November 16
World Sport Kite Championships
Site Visit
Langkawi, Malaysia

Island Panorama Click on any image for a larger view.

Kites in Malaysia are called "wau". Wow!

I'm writing this on the flight home from Kuala Lumpur. As one of two AKA members of the World Sport Kite Championship Steering Committee, I was asked to join delegates from STACK in Europe and AJSKA in Japan for a site visit and final negotiation session.

I've got one thing to say about the trip. If you can go, do.

Welcome to Malaysia

Malaysia is a country of warm friendly people, stunning scenery, rock bottom prices, and in February, 2000, the greatest gathering of global competitive talent in the history of Sport Kiting. Our hosts are pulling out all stops to welcome fliers, officials, friends and spectators.

I have been at enough international kite events that I'm no longer easily impressed. But I was impressed during my three day site visit here.

The World Sport Kite Championship is the realization of a dream - international competition for al disciplines, using a common rule book, and governed by the three principle flier Associations.

Primary credit goes to Helmut Georgie and Richard Dermer for making it happen.

WSKC Logo

The very first competition is scheduled for February 4-11 on Langkawi Island in Malaysia. The event will be hosted by the Malaysian Kite Association as part of the Langkawi International Kite Festival. Other events will include competition for traditional Malaysian kites, a huge single-line exhibition, and a host of ethnic presentations. The sport kite events will be conducted from the 8th to the 10th with the 11th being the "reserve" date and demo day.

All classes of sport kite competition will be held. Invitations are being issued to an equal number of competitors from each organization.

  • Individual Dual Line: 5 competitors each from AKA, STACK, and AJSKA
  • Dual Line Pairs: 4 competitors
  • Dual Line Teams: 3 competitors
  • Individual Multi Line: 5 competitors
  • Multi Line Pairs: 3 competitors
  • Multi Line Teams: 1 competitor

AKA contestants are now being contacted by Richard Dermer. Their selection was based on the results of Grand National Convention competition in both ballet and precision. Fliers interested in Multi Line pairs or team competition will be invited to submit an application since we do not currently hold these events in the USA.

Invited fliers will receive air tickets on Malaysian Airlines, lodging and meals in Langkawi. They will be asked to reimburse 50% of the lowest available airfare price. For example, my ticket on Malaysian was listed at $700 so I would have paid $350. Malaysian Air flies out of Los Angeles, Newark, and Vancouver B.C.

WSKC Dates

People sharing lodging with competitors (spouses or partners) will receive a specially discounted package and other low-cost programs will be offered interested spectators. Each Association will also name four judges and one field director who will be sponsored 100%.

STACK won the coin toss to name the first Chief Judge. That person will coordinate the competition schedule and selection of compulsory maneuvers.

For every event that has at least four contestants representing at least two of the three Associations, the winner will be named the World Champion. Winners of other events will still receive trophies but the contest will be deemed a "special challenge" rather then a "world championship". Results will be based on both Ballet and Precision competition.

Finally, the Association that compiles the most overall points will be awarded the Langkawi Cup. All trophies will be returned in two years for the second World Sport Kite Championship.

Malaysia Map
First Impressions are Important. My flight from LAX was 18 hours long (including the layover in Taipei). But the plane was comfortable, the food was good, and my economy seat reclined a long, long way. Since I flew out at midnight, it didn't take long to get to sleep.

Kuala Lumpur's brand new airport is a gleaming mass of hi-tech steel and glass. The polished floors shine like mirrors and automated trains, moving sidewalks and plentiful information desks help. I don't normally think of airports as fun, but this one was. And the amazing thing was the how empty it all was. You practically felt like you had the place to yourself.

Kuala Lumpur Airport Kuala Lumpur Airport

The connection to Langkawi was a short hour flight and the hotel was ten minutes from the airport.

The first thing we did in the morning was visit the competition field. A single arena for all sport kite events is planned and it will be a full 130 meters square. The field is right on the edge of the beach.

Looking at these photos, you may notice that there are a few trees and bushes in the area. They are scheduled to all be removed next month. Imagine that! Not cut down, not bulldozed over, but each dug up and replanted elsewhere on the ecologically sensitive island. The field will be level, graded sand by February.

Flying Field Flying Field Flying Field

Typical winds in February are expected to average between 10 and 15 mph. It will be warm, but there will be tents, refreshments, and the water nearby is warm and inviting. You can jet ski, kite board, or catamaran or you can just sun yourself.

Beyond the trees, just a few feet from the field, you can see the Aseania Resort. That's home base for the competition and all fliers will be based there.

 Aseania Resort

The hotel is clean, spacious, and comfortable. Survivors of Guadeloupe will find this a big change. The lobby bar is co-owned by one of the Malaysian fliers, and the pool (with three water slides) is said to be the biggest in Malaysia. For paying guests, the cost with breakfast is 109 ringgit a night -- about $30. Maybe we should plan an AKA convention here.

 Aseania Resort  Aseania Resort  Aseania Resort

What can you get for thirty bucks?? Take a look! I'm telling you -- you need to come to Langkawi!

Hotel Rooms Hotel Rooms Hotel Rooms

Across the street are open air restaurants with wonderful, spicy food. Try the crunchy Thai chicken with fried rice for $2 or the beef curry for $2.50. The scenery at the edge of the flying field is -- interesting. And at night, the Oasis beckons. Watch the sun set over the bay. Tables in the sand are lit by tiki torches while the Indian Ocean laps gently at the shoreline fifty feet away.

 Beach Cruise Use Sunscreen Oasis

So we have a great hotel that costs next to nothing, a flying field right across the street, a stunning beach next to that, plenty of exotic foods, and cheap beer. Oh yes, and the best kite flying in the world. Is there a catch??

Drawbacks

OK -- so Malaysia has some drawbacks. You eat all that great spicy food and then find the only toilet around looks like this. I mean, can you imagine Brian Champe perched here?? But not to worry, big guy. Virtually every place has "western style" toilets too. You just have to check behind another door.

Seven Wells

The island is stunning. Visit Seven Wells where a hundred foot waterfall cascades into pools that you can slide among. Shop at the craft markets and batik fairs. Drop by to marvel at the black sand beach.

Helmut Georgi and I chose to explore the island by motorcycle. OK, they were actually motor *scooters*, but at 100 kph on the straight-away, it was plenty enough for me.

The guy at the rental agency asked what experience I had. I told him I had seen Easy Rider back in 1969. That seemed to satisfy his concerns. The scooter cost us $7 a day and we bought "petrol" from a small stand where it was hand pumped from a 55 gallon drum. Cool!

Helmut in Helmet Born to be Wild Fill 'er Up

I told Susie by phone that I would either spend the day on the topless beach or go shopping by cycle. She thought the beach sounded safer.

Langkawi Beach Road Hazards Fishing Harbor

I spent three days in Langkawi and fell in love with the place. If you can go in February, do.


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