New Year’s Day with the San Diego Kite Club

Huge trilobits at the 2008 New Year's Kite Festival in San Diego

For the second year in a row, my boy and I went to San Diego for their annual New Year’s Day Kite Festival and it was, once again, fantastic! This year, we went down a bit early and arrived on New Year’s Eve around 11:30 AM in order to enjoy a fighter kite competition. While there were not too many competitors (and I certainly didn’t enter as I haven’t flown for a couple of months), the participants were outstanding! As expected, my boy and I met Dave and Iris (two of the nicest people anywhere!) and Dave filled us in on the backgrounds of some of those were engaged in kite warfare. Unlike fighter kite competitions in other parts of the world where the goal is to cut the line of your opponent’s kite (and often glass coated lines are used), the intent of American competitions is to merely touch the line of your challenger from either above or below – and that selection is based upon the call of the judge. According to Dave there was a least one national/international champion flying and many other well-known fighter experts – including Victor Heredia, the creator of the famous “Vic’s Fighter Kite”(who also owns Kite Country in San Diego.” I was particularly interested in watching Vic fly as he is legendary in the kite world. Naturally, he was specular and so were the other competitors (sorry, but I don’t remember their names). While the wind was almost non-existent, fighters are extremely light and can fly in almost anything. Following the competition and award ceremony (where winners were presented with incredible paper sculpture trophies made by Dave), Vic gave my boy and I a few tips on how to fly the Hoopty fighter I had bought from him a few months ago. My boy then spent some time flying it and, within a short period of time became quite good at it (fighters, while small, require a bit of training to get them up). It was a real joy to watch him. Of course, my job was to pick up the kite and help him launch it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the fighter kite competition or the trophies (I used my cell phone camera and I suspect I hit the shutter button too soon – that erases the picture instead of saving it). Dave was kind enough; however, tell me where to find the pattern for the incredible awards he made; those are located on the Canon Paper Craft web site. The awards that Dave made for the event contained the “Chinese Dragon” mounted on wood and were exceptionally beautiful.

Following the fighter kite competition at Mission Bay Park (Tecolate Shores), my boy and I thought we would see if we could find something to do. Surprisingly, everything we went to was either closed or was about to close. We ended up going to the hotel for the evening in order to wait for the New Year. We spent a couple of hours playing various Nintendo DS Lite games (we got a matched set a year ago – I figured it would be a good way to “bond” with him as his nose is usually buried in an electronic game of some sort). While he nearly always beats me (especially at action type games), I can usually beat him at slower strategy ones. After shooting off cheap (plastic!) cap guns to make some noise at midnight (we couldn’t find anything else), we called it a night. Interestingly, we ended up with the same room (207) as the one we stayed in last year.

Banners and trilobitesAs soon as we woke up in the morning, we grabbed a bite to eat and took off for the kite festival, located at Mariners Point. While the weather was gorgeous, the was almost no wind of any kind – only the very largest kites were able to get aloft and, even then, had problems staying up. Just the same, there were a lot of banners and other goodies that could still flutter in the wind. As the day wore on, the wind picked up a bit so a few kites did get up. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my 30 sq. ft. Sutton Flow Form up – and that’s usually one of the easiest to fly.

Shortly after noon, we dined on goodies provided by the San Diego Kite Club (lunch was catered this year) – carne asade and other yummy goodies. That was almost immediately followed by some of the terrific Rev fliers who launched their kites and practiced synchronized flying. Even with the light breeze (it really was nothing more than that) most of these folks are so experienced that they were still able to get their extremely lightweight Revs up. Looking at the photo on the right, it’s easy to see that not too much was flying – again, only the huge trilobites and a few Revs. Getting back to the synchronized fliers, some of the most experienced (and expert) folks were still able to do some amazing things – watching them is always one of the most fun event’s to watch. I’m always amazed at how much they are able to control their kites. The following video shows some of the incredible things they did.

I was also able to get a shot of the group as they were making their kites dance across the sky (in other words, I was almost underneath the kites and looking back at them as I took this photo). These consisted of the four (expert) members of “Team Too Much Fun” (a rather appropriate name) and four others. While I’m not sure if the video picked it up, I did hear one or two of the fliers comment on how difficult it was to keep the kites up. Even so, they were still great to watch.

Synchronized kite team

Later in the afternoon my boy tried making a sled kite assisted by Dave. The following video, taken with my cell phone (hence the poor quality), shows him hard at work. The one good thing about a kite festival where there isn’t much wind – you can always make more kites (one can never have enough)!

While my boy was working in his kite, I took some time to look at some of the other flying things that I either have already made or hope to make. Of particular interest was another Catherine’s Wheel. Other than the two I’ve made (one of which didn’t spin because of a mistake I made), I had only seen them in photos. Interestingly, it was about the same size as mine but each cell was sewn individually – mine used fewer pieces but accomplished the same thing. Something else I notice – when I first put mine up for the day, the bridles wanted to twist so I had to adjust the swivel.

Catherine’s WheelI noticed that the other Catherine’s wheel also seemed to have the same problem but, interestingly, it didn’t spin in a full circle – instead, it usually looked like an upside-down “U”. While I can’t tell what caused it, my guess is that it either had a problem with the bridles (which I doubt) or could have been caused by the swivel it was attached to. Regardless, it was still fun to watch. The next time I take my boy to the science museum, I’ll have to look at the exhibit that can reproduce the problem but with a bicycle chain instead. Eventually, I plan on making more Catherine’s Wheels, although bigger than the one I currently have.

 Well, it’s getting late and there’s still more to post so I’ll save that for tomorrow.

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