It's been just under three weeks now since WSIKF finished up for 2011 and I've had lots of time to let everything sink in.
Like hearing too much about a blockbuster movie and having all sorts of expectations only to be disappointed by the final film is sort of how I felt things may go this year. I'd been looking forward to this trip for months (it is not just a kite festival, it's also my only get-away vacation of the year so it must be worth it for me) and I am happy to say that it didn't disappoint!
I was better prepared for the weather and thankfully other than one day which was way too ugly for my liking I was able to manage short sleeves and sandals through most of the week. Much better conditions than last year even if the winds did get a tad high at times.
Most days I was able to make the pilgrimage to the main area to walk vendor row and see some activity in field "A". I'm on the fence regarding the position of the Rev field this year. It was nice to be closer to the activity but the hike through the sand was long and it seemed to get longer each day when moving equipment back and forth. In the end I don't think I felt any more part of the festival being closer as I did last year being far off. At least last year the parking lot was near as were the washrooms not to mention having our own demos when it suited teams. I missed the spontaneity of a "private" show that a lot of times seemed to be just as much for fellow pilots as it was for any spectators that happened along. In the end I probably lean to liking the location better in 2010.
I had so much fun! It really did feel like I was part of the Rev family and a number of us just fell back into step as if a year had not passed since last seeing each other. I met even more new people and was happy to coax at least a couple into the fold and get them involved in some group flying and pushing their envelope just a little bit. Based on the smiles I'd say they liked it even though they did protest just a little.
It was also exciting to see at least one flyer, who didn't feel he was prepared to get into a grid last year, in a grid this year and a couple new flyers take a crack at the 6 x 6 grid (largest this year) and succeed. I say again that the basic grid only requires basic skills so if you are doubting your ability please rethink it because you may have the skills to do this. Of course the grid was "old hat" to many of us and many of us (well maybe just me) felt a little cocky going into it but honestly it went up, moved and morphed and came down so easily this year that the talent of all the flyers on the line was immediately apparent.
Almost every day I would go down to the surf each morning to fly. The wind was always different (I thought better most times) than further up the beach and it is something that I don't get to do here – tempt fate and play around the water. It was also a nice break from walking on loose sand all day!
Did I mention I had so much fun yet? I actually lost track of the days at one point which is a good indicator or my relaxed level. I could have easily stayed another week if everyone would have been up for it too!
Many thanks to many people. To my roommates, Wayne, Amy and Connor at various times during the week because this trip needed to stay affordable and I couldn't have done it without you. To Mark and his family for feeding and sheltering our rag-tag crew at the midway points there and back as well as doing some driving for me. To Paul, Candace and Joe for making the trip and splitting travel costs and shuttling me to and from the beach. I'm happy that it all worked out in the end that we could all make the trip from Canada again. To Mike and his family for giving me a bed and keeping my truck safe for the time I was gone. To all the flyers that I did fly with, challenge our abilities, tangle and crash with – you know who you are – a big thanks for the fun! To John, Steve, Rich and Watty who just had to harass my kite in the air. That is one thing I still have trouble with - the feeling on the lines while someone else messes with my kite with their own. I almost always end up losing tension and come down. Hard to practice this sort of thing without someone actually doing it to get the feel of it. All good fun and I can hardly wait to practice the same with any newbies here!
And, of course, to the organizers of WSIKF and the volunteers without which there would be no festival.
Hope to see you all again in 2012.
Better late then never!
More fog and mist this morning, but warmer than one would expect with the overcast. I could start the day with my Xtra-Vent but finished with a STD sail when the wind diminished to near nothing by mid-afternoon.
A number of us went down to the water edge first thing to fly. While there we cornered another flyer who was too timid to try any kind of group flying. He was more than capable just didn't want to take the chance of damaging someone else's kite. So, who better to get in a group with him than my friend Paul! He should be cured now…
I tried to surf my kite along one of the larger tidal pools but found it difficult to not want to lift the kite off the water surface shortly after it touched. I'm still nervous about completely dunking it even if the pool was only knee deep. Paul measured it personally after a mishap between his "grasshopper" kite and Candy's purple flames when he waded in to retrieve his.
A lot of pilots were at the water today. Some flying team and some solo playing in the water. With the mist blowing in an interesting visual was formed. Too bad no recording device could really capture it as well as the human eye.
As was so common this festival time moved quickly while having fun. When I finally got back to the main Rev field I was surprised to see we'd been at the water for almost four hours!
I took a break to walk to the main area for lunch and one last look around. The breeze was dying fast and by the time I got back to the camp a lot of people had already left or were in the process of packing up. There would be no more flying for me this day.
No one really wanted to go and good-byes were stretched out as far as possible until all but a couple flyers were left on the beach to close it out.
Really seemed hard to believe the week went by so quickly.
Wow, what a day! So much seemed to happen today that I am losing track. Honestly I had to ask someone what day of the week we were in and for me to lose track of time like that suggests I'm in full vacation mode and having a good time.
A lot of high wind flying with full vents and xtra-vents in many cases. No where near as cold as yesterday and mostly clear skies with no clouds.
Met two new friends first thing in the morning. Brett and his wife Bri and we hit it off first thing. We had our own group fly down by the water along with a couple other pilots. Took more photos of kites above the water and kites in the water and I christened my Xtra-vent with a wing tip dip in the ocean. It was Brett's idea so we all went along with it. They all need a washing anyway so what the heck, might as well have even more fun tempting fate and playing in the surf.
Time flew past down by the water and soon it was noon. Immediately after lunch I had to get my full vent set up to participate in the grid. We were 36 strong and that included at least two or three people who had never flown in a grid before and had just nicely started group flying this week. What an excellent job by everyone involved! The grid was not only tighter but it went up fast, transitioned very nicely between patterns and came down quick. The columns were straighter, the threads in time and the balls more round. Clearly everyone has improved since last year especially those of us who were terrified last year of the thing. I loved to hear from people who said that last year they could only watch and this year they got to be part of it. That was special.
The rest of the day was spend doing more group flys with friends and exercising some new found skills in those flies. Despite the high wind day this was one of the best for spending a lot of time in the air and just having a blast.
I can honestly say I started feeling depressed just with the knowledge that there would be only one more day before heading home.
Holy cow they obviously get their forecast here from someone living under a rock. Was supposed to be warm and sunny today but instead was overcast and foggy and bitter high wind to boot.
Sorry folks, I didn't even touch a kite today. This festival is a week long and there have already been 4 excellent days to fly so taking a break on one of them (the crappy one) is not a big deal. I used the time to enjoy the Kite Museum (first time I have went there), wander a bit of the "downtown" area and watch other flyers who were braver than I fly around instead.
Not to say at least a couple things didn't happen today that were great. I watched iQuad, Rev Riders and a few other pilots play in the sky today then realized one of them was Paul's eight year old son Joe on the line between John and Steve of iQuad holding the 2nd position. I hadn't even noticed - the flying was THAT GOOD.
Katrina and Mark got C.J. out into an empty field near the end of the day to get some group flying under his belt. He was ironing out the figure 8s just before I left as well as showing noticeable improvement in his inverted hovers. They even got him to do a passable inverted slide. Hopefully tomorrow we can up the number of people on that line and get him into some longer trains and a few other exercises to send him home with.
These stories about pilots like Jim and C.J. really demonstrate, in a good way, how much faster one can learn when there are others around you to help along the learning curve. I know C.J. liked it too. The mile wide grin gives it all away.
The night fly and fireworks went on during the fog. I call them "pastel fireworks" due to the muted colours through the fog bank. iQuad flew in the foreground throughout it all which made for a very cool display.
Hoping for clear skys and warm for the rest of the festival. Still so many things to do and only two days left to do them.
The hump day. The day that I start to wonder, "Is this week too long?", "Do I want to take a break?", "Why am I doing this again?" and "Do I want to do this next year?"
After today, though, I was reminded again of just how much fun this is when the breeze is perfect, the day is warm and good friends are near. Mark and I walked down to the water line and played in some really nice wind for most of the morning before coming back to the Rev field for the rest of the day.
A few more flyers arrived today. The fun level goes up another notch.
A grid of 16 was put up twice today. In both grids flyers who had not participated last year were able to be involved. From what I saw they loved it. One thing that was immediately noticeable this year was how quickly a grid could be set up and how the execution of moves was much smoother and faster. Threads were cleaner, balls were rounder and even some simple line wrap moves (Benefits) were thrown into the mix this time out too.
Boy, it feels so much nicer to have last year under my belt before getting into these again. Makes for a much nicer and stress free experience. I was even able to carry on a conversation while flying between John and Steve and contending with their antics. My kite will never be the same again!
Mark, Katrina and myself flew together again today and worked on our "routine". We have a couple signature moves with various code names to dazzle and amaze! Watch out for us. We just need a team name now!
Tomorrow the plan is to get at least one new flyer involved in some group flying. If you are reading this and have been too scared to try it now is the chance. Find me on Friday. I met another flyer today - Steve - who did very well in the grid and follow for a first time and he was nervous about it all too.
This evening I caught most of the indoor demos which was a first for me. I can say that I appreciate the talent needed to fly indoors but it is not something I will be doing. It will take me the rest of my life to accomplish even 50% of what is possible with the Rev so adding another discipline to the mix is not in the cards.
It's late and the roommates are starting to drift off. See you on the beach Friday morning.
Weather alert! The howling NW wind hit first thing this morning. It was a cold wind and I had to break out the wind jacket for the first time this trip and wear shoes to the beach. I set up the Xtra-Vent down by the sea for some new photos of it and ended up with some kind of locked in wrap which took two of us 30 minutes to sort out. In that time the wind dropped to a mid-vent level and by the time I got back from visiting Theresa at the Kite Shoppe it was a steady standard sail and shirt sleeve weather for the rest of the afternoon. From my perspective, the best weather yet this trip and one of the best days ever between last year and this year.
I started out the day by hiking the, what seemed like, width of the Sahara Desert to the "old" Rev field on the south end. The end we did the mega-grid in. I had to find Jim who had commented on my blog that he was, shall we say, apprehensive about coming to the main Rev field so he was hiding far away. He had all the excuses as to why he "couldn't" be in the field (I know them all 'cause I had those and more last year) and after I rejected all of those he agreed to come over. I think he would have got there on his own either way but maybe I sped up the process a tiny bit.
We managed about four or five others to get involved in a simple group fly to introduce Jim to the concept. Katrina led figure 8s and after a few false starts and some position changes in the line we were doing multiple passes with no problems and Jim was doing just great! You could see it on his face too. I think he liked it! I know how he felt - we had so much fun for a couple hours this afternoon as we tried a few different patterns without the assistance of one of the pros. At the end of the day we did a four pilot, vertical benefits and it looked good. After we had run through it a couple of times we learned that it was the first time Mark had done it so that made it extra special for him!
I had the chance to fly a B2 today on 50 foot lines. While I don't think it would ever replace the 1.5 versions for me there was certainly something to be said about it's speed and handling. Really it is like a half size version of the 1.5 and whatever you can do with the 1.5 you can do with the B2 it just happens faster. It makes for a good kite for those days when you want to just zip around the sky by yourself or feel like more speed is in order. I may need to leave the festival with one despite my vow to buy no more new kites for at least a couple years. Problem is, it just seems wrong to be at a major kite festival and never buy a new kite.
God give me strength to resist temptation…
Daily weather report - more wind earlier in the day than yesterday and high winds again by the afternoon. Most people used full vents and many decided to pack it in early instead of do battle with the elements for extended periods of time.
As I over did it yesterday I had to take things a bit slower today. I did get in on another six person practice doing some simple spacing and speed control exercises. Generally went well and we learned some of the potential problems of standing too close to each other and/or not staggered enough. We had a few line snags due to these problems and flying with our hands at all different levels. Happy to say, though, that no one came out of the sky as a result and everyone involved could recover quickly. One more thing to file away for future flying with others.
My roommate for part of the week is Stroke Victim (Wayne) from the forum and last year he didn't feel confident enough to fly with anyone in the same air space. This year he was planted in the middle of the pack and had a chance to get involved at this festival. Just another success story and demonstration that Rev pilots are always anxious to get everyone involved in the fun. Wayne said he understood now what I experienced last year being thrust into the action and how terrifying, yet fun and exhilarating, it can be.
A few more flyers arrived today and a few more arriving again tomorrow. John thinks we could see 50 by the weekend. There has been no grids of any size yet this year and no talk of any springing up although I would bet that by the weekend at least one big one will go up. Most people in attendance were also here last year for the 8 x 8 so getting one in the air would not be a huge undertaking.
I'm enjoying the no pressure flying I've been doing thus far. I incorporate some of what I want to work on with some messing around with some sitting back and watching others fly.
Started out with very low winds, but by 11 it had changed to mid-vent and by mid-afternoon a lot of flyers were using full-vents. It was warm enough for me to leave the jacket off most of the day and I even managed sandals for the day.
I think I over did it 'cause I am dragging my butt around tonight.
I spent a good portion of the day in the air reacquainting myself with those sweet ocean winds. They were just like I remembered!
My friend Mark and I flew together through most of it. We compared notes on what we had been learning and what we have currently been working on. Later Brad from Island Quad led a few of us through some new patterns (we worked on one called "matrix" a lot) and gave us more valuable tips on smoothing out turns. We tried to do "the fountain" which started out great but ended badly when too many people started to notice the line twist that was building and fell out of the air with some twist anxiety. Maybe next time.
I spent only a short time along the vendor row today. There were a number of arches and trains up all over the place and a few bigger inflatable kites were up. I expect the kite numbers will build daily now in preparation for the busier weekend.
I grabbed a program and was happy to see some photos from last year's mega-grid! Also very cool to see my kite was visible in these photos.
Rev pilots were scattered all over the beach today with the largest concentrations in field B and C. By Wednesday we'll only have field C to use or the public flying areas outside the roped off designated areas. We are considerably closer to the action this year and it feels like we are part of the festival not a group of renegades on the far side of the field. To be fair to the organizers in 2010 we did ask to be out of the way to have the space to work on the mega-grid. There were no grid attempts today.
I'm beat! Tomorrow I'm going to slow it down and remember I have all week to play. I still need to work on the bicycle move and take a B2 for a spin and maybe a SUL but there is plenty of time for all of that.
It's the evening before the festival starts. I'm alone in my motel room thinking about last year vs. this year. What a difference a year makes!
Last year when we rolled in we were faced with rain/mist/fog and cold. It was horrible. I felt sick. This year, absolutely beautiful sunny, warm and clear. I feel good.
Last year I was dreading getting up Monday morning and wondered where the nearest bus depot was and the Greyhound home. This year I can hardly wait to get to the field Monday morning and see old friends and make some new ones.
The pressure is off. I know this festival now. I know what the weather can do. I know how to ignore the sand in everything. I can immediately appreciate the ocean breeze and how it validates my abilities learned with inland winds. I can jump in on a group fly and not hide half a mile down the beach. I can even be cocky (and maybe get away with it?) about any grid attempts now that I'm "old hand" with all that "stuff".
I feel like I belong here.
Last year I was on the verge of an anxiety attack when I got to the field on day one. None of that pressure is there now. There is so much more to absorb. So much more to learn and perfect. So much more fun to be had with these crazy friends of mine on the beach…
Bring it on, it will be one hell of a week!