April 19
Blasting Winds and Big Inflatables in Berck

I'm back in Berck France for what I think is the 13th time. This is the largest of the European Spring Festivals and now home of the World Sport Kite Championships. The event runs ten days - through two full weekends - and draws a hundred thousand spectators. But this year we are off to a blustery start.

Our group arrived from Paris on Friday and found the beach warm and sunny. On Saturday, cloud cover moved in to envelope the big inflatables. And then Sunday when sport kite demos were set to start, rain began to spit across the sand and winds shifted into ballistic mode.

Wind Meter

I'm starting to get nervous now. Smithsonian - rain. SBBB - rain. Berck - rain. If there is a country out there suffering from a serious drought, give me a call and I'll come and fly kites for you....

Show Kites Show Kites Show Kite Show Kite

Actually the show on Saturday was anything the crowd might have hoped for. Three large demonstration fields erupted with bright fabric. Larger showkite fliers included Peter Lynn of New Zealand, No Limit of Germany, Marco Cassado of Italy, Roff Zimmerman and Jurgen Eppinghaus of Germany, Jos Valke of Belgium, and Pete Dolphin and myself of the USA.

Show Kites Show Kites Show Kite Show Kite

Berck normally boasts the largest inflatable show in Europe with an incredible variety of new designs and applications. You never know what is going to come out of a bag and whether it is actually going to fly.

Saturday afternoon, I was interviewed by French National Radio. Pete Dolphin's daughter Jessy, who is teaching in France, was the translator.

"Are there any famous kitefliers in America that are treated like rock stars or athletes?" the host asked. "Oh yes" I replied. "A fellow named Pete Dolphin is often surrounded by young girls asking for autographs...."

Poor Jessy nearly lost it and Pete, a few feet away, fell off his chair laughing.

Interview

Sport kite competition is scheduled to start Tuesday. And it promises to be quite an event. We have 17 teams here including three from Japan, three from the USA, two from South America, one from Malaysia and eight from across Europe.

The program will run three days with each team flying precision in the morning and ballet in the afternoon. The two best scores from the three flights will be combined for a final ranking.

Airzone Airzone

Winds in the 20-40 mph range are testing the fliers. Each team is taking to the field for demo flies and to prepare for possibly similar conditions during competition. Routines are being adjusted and fliers are being dragged across the beach.

With the best performers in the world gathered, it will be interesting to watch the results evolve. The French have always been very strong here, but two-time champion Overdrive has retired from competition. That leaves Tame Bird and Element Air as the favorites with Cutting Edge in a good position to also take wood.

The unknown factors are the Japanese. Kamikaze competed two years ago and dazzled the judges with a wonderful performance, unfortunately marred by crashes and tics in the high winds. They've had two more years to practice and the other two Asian teams, reportedly even better, have just arrived.

Winds are settling down and the sun has broken through Monday morning. The Pilot's Meeting ran smoothly and everyone is upbeat. That's because at this point, the trophy could go to any of them.

GKPI Jellys

Competition scores will be announced on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I'll try and get them posted along with any highlights and news.

Check back for the latest from the World Championships in sunny/rainy/cloudy/blustery Berck!

Bon Jour!!

Space Sock

Giant Space Sock: We thought a 130 foot tube tails was pretty big. But we've been asked to make one even bigger. No problem!

Our Space Sock, normally with six 20 foot sections, has been expanded to ten sections. That's 230 feet! The opening is larger to let more wind in. And the price is a mere $200. How many would you like??

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