2012 St Honoré Kite Festival

When we attended this event (officially titled Festival International de cerfs-volants Saint-Honoré dans l’Vent) with an iQuad 4-pack in 2010, it was a great experience… Flying with our Quebec kite brethren and everything else, despite some issues with black flies – when my teammate Steve de Rooy and I got the return invite for 2012, even being just a few days notice, we were all over it!

Just finishing up at the PacRim Kite Festival on June 9-10, it was an easy matter of staying over with our other teammate David Hathaway in Vancouver BC for a couple extra days until our red-eye flight to Montreal at 11:30pm on Wednesday night…

Arriving at the Montreal International Airport around 7am in the morning, Steve and I picked up our rental car on got on the road for our roughly 5-6 hour drive from Montreal to St Honoré.

Along the way we stopped to have coffee and breakfast with Jean and Michelle Lamoureux at their beautiful home just outside of Montréal… Fed and partially recharged, we headed out in a two car caravan, enjoying some beautiful landscapes on the way – we even saw a moose on the side of the road, proving we were deep into Canada.

Arriving at event site (Chicotimi-Saint-Honore Aerodrome Airport) around 4pm, we met up with organizers Brigitte Brussiére and Lucien Villeneuve as well some of their volunteers at the event headquarters, an empty hangar dedicated to the purpose.

After checking in, we wandered out onto the tarmac to connect with old friends Normand Girard, Dominic Guimond, Jessica Lamarche and others a bit of pre-event flying… Although it’s an active airport, one of the runways is shut down (under the supervision of air traffic controller Marc Ahern and field coordinator Patrice Perron) for exclusive use by the visiting kite fliers and they are all given very clear instructions in case of an airport emergency of any kind should one arise (never been a problem though – as far as I know), and we also got to enjoy an F-18 fighter jet coming in for grounded display throughout the weekend and it’s departure at the end of the event.

A seemingly good omen, winds were already up around 12-15 mph when we arrived – quite different than the frequently light wind we experienced in 2010, our hopes were up!

Thoroughly warmed up, we wandered back to event HQ for dinner with other fliers, organizers and volunteers from the city… After being on the road, flying all day and filling our bellies, we packed dour stuff back into the car and made our way over to the Le Martingale property where we’d be staying for the weekend – a lovely farm with rolling fields, a small barnyard and a large guest house with several bedrooms, a full kitchen and even a large common dining room large enough to accommodate 3-5 indoor gliders at one time.

Making good use of the space, we flew a bit of indoor and shared some laughs over a few beers before retiring for some much needed rest – with only a couple hours of sleep over the preceding 24 hours and a couple drinks in us, we went out like a light.

Awaking each day to the sound of roosters and other barnyard animals, we’d eat breakfast at event HQ then to our flying field… Unlike the light winds we saw nearly every day of this event in 2010, we generally saw at least 10-12 mph breeze, giving everyone plenty of wind to get their kites up regardless of what they were flying.

Out on the sport kite (cerf-volant acrobatique) field, Dominic and Jessica, along with Stefane Dery and Edith Lacombe represented both quad and dual line pairs flying, Jean Lemire wowed the spectators (and fellow fliers) with his multiple kite skills, Jean Lamoureux swooped and soared a huge stack of Dynakites with long tails… Joining forces with other fliers who made the trip on their own, the sport kite field kept a steady flow of demonstrations and free flying going throughout the weekend.

The single line field was in full force with displays from international kite folk like Meg Albers, Pedro and Esteban Gonzalez (Los Hermanos), DidaKite, Christian Laskowski and Alex Ruger (Team Think Big), Water and Stefan Bloem (Team Chaos Kiters), Thom Shanken, Kevin Reynolds, Gary Mark, Robert Trepanier, Claudio Cappelli, Christine McGee, Jacques Letourneau, Daniel Remillard, Michele Berube, Carl Bigras, Normand Girard, Carloes Simoes, Rene Campeau, Andre Bernard, Dave Robinson, Michèle Bérubé and others… A truly amazing display of international artistry and camaraderie.

Closer to event HQ, there was also a large area with inflatable bouncy rooms, castles, slides and a ball pit for the youngest spectators… This made for pretty easy pickings with so many families as Steve and I flew our Revs on short lines, tapping shoulders, knocking off hats, “walking” with folks, landing on vendor tents and just about anything else within our reach.

At one point, Steve was actually able to hook his wingtip into the handle of an empty stroller while the mother was watching her child in the ball pit… Steve kept rolling the stroller further and further away until she finally turned around to find her stroller moved about 30 feet much to the audible amusement of everyone watching.

Hands down, this was one of the best events I’ve seen for short line interaction between Revs and the public – I’m all for “roaming” contact with spectators, giving them a chance to ask questions or get close to the pilot… The layout of the event, tons of friendly (i.e. tolerant) people and Brigitte’s faith in our abilities made it very enjoyable situation for everyone involved.

This brings me to my own favorite experience of the weekend – I was once again on my short line Rev, playing with passerby when a young girl of just 9-10 years old started interacting with the kite… Typical at first with wingtip in the hand, etc, she eventually started dancing with my kite, striking poses as I’d come down and land in her hand, then fluidly tossing my kite one way or the other so that I’d pilot it back to her like a bird just gone on a flight… Words truly can’t do it justice, although she and I didn’t exchange more than 5 words, I had a really good long chat with her father who was filming for most of the hour we were playing together.

On the third “back” field, power and traction kiters such as Claude Gravel, Julien Bouchard, Camil Girard, Réjean Aubry, Daniel Gagnon, Daniel Tremblay, Gilles Baril, Carl Girard, Gilles Turcotte, Germain Lespérance, Michel Tremblay, Marc Fortin, Hugo Garon, Ginette Pearson, Benoît Tremblay and others set up camp with buggies, power foils and the like… Although I didn’t see it myself, there was rumor of a unique homemade buggy that accommodates FOUR riders at once – too cool, the power kiters were clearly having a great time all weekend with buggies constantly running up and down the runway.

Given the option of headed back to event HQ or having it delivered on the field, we generally took lunch at our camp thanks to the skilled coordination of Henri Bouchard – the volunteers here always do a good job of providing good, solid staples to get you through the day.

Several times throughout the weekend Rev fliers gathered for mega flies, coordinating as many as 20 kites (new record for Quebec) through various maneuvers… Rev pilots included myself, Steve de Rooy, Jess and Dom, Sylvain Gagnon, Jean-Pierre St-Denis, Véronique Régimbald and other avid pilots from this part of the world.

Other than the mega flies, Steve and I also joined forces with Jess and Dom for some 4-pack Rev team flying humorously dubbed as “iQuatre”… These two have flown with iQuad members quite a bit, they are voracious in their desire to learn and we expect to see great things from their group(s) in the future.

On Saturday night, we also enjoyed and participated in the night fly… Unlike the typical USA night flies which generally involve attached lights of various weights to our kites, the St Honoré night fly is done European style which involves several banks of floodlights and hand-controlled (but powerful) spotlights which illuminate anything in the sky including kite lines, simply stunning!

After that set, we were joined by Stefane Dery and Edith Lacombe to make it a six-pack of night Rev team flying!

There was also a beautiful wind garden created in a deep sea theme complete with mermaid dancers, colorful banners and lighting, all in concert with the airborne portion of the show… Truly, one of the best overall night flies I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Closing out the event, we all gathered at Le Martingale once again for a group dinner and pose-event celebration… An absolute who’s who of kitefliers from all over the world, there was no shortage of fun or interesting categories.

Throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday we enjoyed good friends, good meals and a whole lot of good kite flying… Tons of variety and interesting personalities to learn from or share with, great spectator turnout (3,000 for the night fly alone) and very solid organization puts this event near the top of our list.

For full event info, visit – http://danslvent.com/

Steve and I are grateful for the amazing hospitality we experience (special nods to Brigitte, Lucien, Henri, Marc, Jess, Dom, Normand, Jean and Michele for their involvement)… I’d also like to thank everyone who was a part of the 2012 dans l’Vent, no doubt I’ve forgotten some names since the event – but please know, I appreciate the whole.

Hope to see you all there next year!

John Barresi