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April 9
Greetings from Berck!

Greetings from Berck Sur Mer on the northern coast of France!

Berck Flying Field

Regular Update readers know I come here every spring for one of the best of the European festivals. (Check any April in the Update Index.) And this year as an added bonus, we are enjoying the first World Sport Kite Championship featuring the best teams from Europe, Asia and North America.

We always begin the week with a parade through town led by the Berck Municipal Band, and a host of local officials. Then all the kiters follow with banners, horns and smiles for the crowd.

It is a huge beach larger than Long Beach Washington, and the festival stretches half a mile along the city promenade. During the two weekends, we expect over 100,000 spectators.

That means trying to carry a 70 pound kite duffel though a crowded street and down the stairs to the sand! Fortunately they have provided us with small beach huts for gear and overnight storage. We call our's "Jabba".

The formal competition begins on Tuesday.

This is the first time in many years that teams have been able to vie for a true world title hosted by AKA, STACK (Europe) and AJSKA (Japan). The American teams are Legend from the east coast and 6th Sense from Washington State. They'll do well, but the word is that Overdrive from France and Speed from Japan are the ones to beat.

City Parade

Sport Kite Fliers

Mega Fly

Meanwhile it is blowing like stink and the wind is coming over the beachfront buildings and tumbling onto the flying fields. Big kites are having a very tough time.

Zimerman Star Zimerman Star Zimerman Star

Remember the Great Trilobite Disaster and later, the Great MegaRay Disaster?? Well this year I have the Great MegaBall Disaster.

It was impossible to fly large kites in the heavy swirling winds but the crowd needed to see something and we were here to provide a show. So I pulled out two of our fifteen foot Spikey Bouncers and connected them together with a twelve foot strap. I then tethered the strap to one of the large cement anchors provided for us.

So can you see where this is headed??

Occasionally the wind pulled the anchor downwind but the Balls were holding up well.

Boy did they bounce!

The afternoon is nearly over and I'm sorting gear when I hear my name being called adamantly. The anchor strap has caught the edge of the anchor and torn though. And the Balls, still connected by a ten foot strap, are sailing downwind about ten feet above the sand.

At the edge of the field is a row of aluminum flagpoles. The balls bend two in half and tumble into the crowd. They then wrap around one of the huts, pinning some poor fellow to the wall with the strap. He gets rescued, the Balls get rescued, and I blame Pete Dolphin for everything.

Fortunately no one was hurt. Even the fellow we pinned to the wall laughed it off and remarkably, the Balls were undamaged.

Lucky -- very lucky.

Balls Disaster

Balls Disaster

Balls Disaster

The winds are better today and competition starts in the morning. Check back for news from the World Sport Kite Championships in Berck!

Yes Al .... I remembered to renew you...

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