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Wow, what a festival!
June 25 and 26 in mostly 30 - 50 kph winds both days. Saturday was sunny with partial clouds whereas Sunday was mostly cloudy with a couple rain storms moving through and cold winds. As someone said, as everyone huddled in a shelter during one one of the wind/rain storms, "Better more wind than no wind."
Saturday probably saw the greatest number of big kites in the air that I've ever seen at this festival with many new ones to us locals - whales, sea horses and dragons to name a few.
The organizers flew in a record number of celebrity flyers this year - 22 from the US, France and Germany, making for another festival record. Windscape is becoming a truly full international kite festival and I can hardly wait to see where they can take this event in the future. Frankly, it just gets bigger and better every year. Attendance was over 6000 people even with the less than ideal Sunday weather conditions. Had it been a sunny and warm day there would have easily been a lot more folks out to see the kites.
As I am Rev focused I was primarily interested in the who's who in the Rev world that would be here and this year we were fortunate to have many "A" list pilots:
Amy and Connor Doran. Scott Weider, Rich Comras, Stephen Rovida and Lisa Willoughby from the Rev Riders. Spencer "Watty" Watson. Edith Lacombe and Stephane Dery who were primarily here to do dual line routines, but they brought along their Revs too and Jeff Burka who was here with his big kites, but also had his Rev's along. When the numbers were crunched to include those of us who may be considered more "local" flyers, and less celebrity flyers - Paul and Candace Loranger and myself - we had 13 Revs in the air for a second new record for Windscape. Sixteen could have been possible, but three people did not feel comfortable enough to join in. Maybe next year. Two new Rev owners are local to me if I can just convince them to fly more often.
The mega-fly on Saturday went extremely well. No real mishaps, good trains and nice formations. The first time I had tried this in 2009 the balls looked more like potatoes and the follows had a few kites on the ground as us newbies tended to run over each other on the pass. Scott and Rich did an exceptional job of leading the mega-fly and unlike past years a lot of the commands were being publicly addressed so the audience was a lot more involved in what they were seeing. We also set up Don King (the official announcer the last few years) with some history of the mega-fly in relation to the new world record achieved at WSIKF in 2010.
The mega-fly on Sunday was another matter. Overall it went well, but almost everyone on the line had at least one issue that would take his/her kite out for a bit or his/her kite and three others along with it. I'd like to blame the more drastic wind patterns on Sunday for a portion of the problems.
To add to the general flight problems just when everything was back on track, late in the day everyone had to get their kites on the ground when both Scott and Watty felt static discharge on the tops of their handles. We had no lightening, but there was enough static building up in the storms around us to cause concern.
Without a doubt the mega-flys are improving here with each passing year. I even think the organizers have eyes to one day break the mega-fly world record right here. Now wouldn't that be interesting...
Individual/team performances were exceptional and inspiring as usual. Amy brought her Charlie Chaplin routine which was a real crowd please. Connor, as one of the finalists on AGT last year had his share of stardom as well. Rev Riders put on great shows and those were with Scott leading with a broken arm! Watty wowed people with some incredible flying and snappy flic-flacs. My friend Ken couldn't get enough of watching Watty's routine. Everyone did a fantastic job in our weird winds. I'm sure some of them have never experienced anything quite like it at times.
Great Canadian Kite Co. and myself had one of his exclusive "Oh Canada" red and white Rev's in the silent auction. Ken, no doubt still inspired by Spencer, stuck to that auction like glue and came away with the kite. He claims he'll learn to fly it. God knows I've been bugging him for the last couple of years to just try! We let him stand in the "Rev tent" at the end of the day when he had his new kite in hand. After a full weekend of teasing him about flying his foil it seemed like the right thing to do!
On a strictly personal note it is always fun for me to have a local festival. I've been able to meet, and become friends with, many great people and when coupled with my trip to WSIKF last year it was almost like a family reunion.
Despite the crazy, at times, winds I still managed to do my first "blender" on Saturday and again on Sunday during the "lawn chair fly" that Rich, Connor, Watty and myself participated in. That was a challenge for me. I didn't realize how much I move around when I fly until I was firmly planted in a chair and had to rely on a minimal movement set to accomplish the same thing. As Connor said later, "Who cares about how hard the wind was blowing and bad the weather was, that was a blast."
So where will it all go? Even though I do not get involved with the organizing portion, and am grateful others will handle that job, I'd like to see the festival expand to three or maybe even four days to run fully in conjunction with the Long Days Night music festival held each evening. I could foresee a scaled down festival for the Thursday and Friday that could include clinics and/or lessons, minimal demos, but more casual team flying, workshops, general reduction in other on site activities to keep in scale for smaller weekday crowds, kite boarding on the nearby pond and an indoor element (I'm not sure if the organizers were fully aware of the number of award winning indoor flyers they had attend this year and most did not see the hotel lobby demos by Lisa, Watty and Connor before the post festival wrap-up party).
Then, come the weekend, continue to pull out all the stops. To be sure I will offer these suggestions to the organizers and I encourage others in attendance to do the same regarding what they liked and didn't like and where it could be expanded on. It's only with constructive feedback the festival will grow and continue to improve. Windscape is a great festival and one of the largest in Canada so why not go as big as possible?
My friend Mike has an open photo gallery on Facebook of this year's festival. I encourage you to check it out. This year he is selling a disc of the full, high resolution photos, for personal use, for 20 bucks. I'm grabbing one!
I'm already counting the days to next year! Be there June 23 and 24, 2012!
Links referenced in this blog:
Mike Stobb's photos on Facebook