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A colorful spectacle
Sport Kite Championship comes to Treasure Island
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Various styles of kites will fly during the 17th annual Treasure Island Sport Kite Championship Jan. 18-19 behind the Thunderbird Beach Resort.
TREASURE ISLAND – Many of the nation’s top sport kite flyers will be on hand Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19, for the 17th annual Treasure Island Sport Kite Championship on the beach behind the Thunderbird Beach Resort, 10700 Gulf Blvd.

The colorful event, which is sanctioned by the American Kitefliers Association and the Eastern League Sport Kite Association, is free to view both days. The primary sponsor is Windworks at John’s Pass Village.

Competition begins both days at 9 a.m. and will continue into the afternoon. There also will be night kite flying to view, weather permitting.

Competition will be in precision, ballet and freestyle flying in novice, experienced and master’s classes. Both days of competition will feature plenty of large show kites, single-line kites and the quad-line revolution kites.

“At this point, we’ve had 20 competitors preregister for the event, and we usually have a few more walk-on registrations the day of the competition,” said event organizer Jared Haworth, who is commissioner of the Eastern League association. “We always like to encourage first-time competitors to join us, so they’re invited to register at the event and have their registration fees waived,” said Haworth. “Many of our competitors compete in multiple disciplines and classes, so one individual may fly in dual line ballet (flying a kite controlled by two strings) as well as in a pairs or team event (multiple kites controlled by multiple flyers) or in a multiline discipline (flying a kite controlled by four strings).”

Among the top competitors to keep an eye out for are Dennis Smith of Jew Jersey, who has a string of national titles as a multiple ballet flyer. Another is Paul LaMasters of Maryland, a top-notch flyer who has participated in a number of events in the Washington, D.C. area, including indoor kite flying demonstrations at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Richard Mervine, another Maryland resident, is one of the top dual-line precision flyers in the nation. Haworth is another, who has finished the last two seasons as the top dual line ballet flyer on the East Coast.

Haworth said there are three main disciplines in competition, precision, ballet and freestyle. In precision kite flying, the competitor is required to fly a pre-determined geometric figure in the sky, for example, an octagon. That flyer will be judged on criteria such as:

• Were all the straight segments the same length?

• Did the kite fly at a constant speed?

• Did the figure take up all of the available space in the sky, called the “wind window” in kite flying?

• Was the figure completed in the allotted time?

Haworth said precision competition is perhaps the most demanding for the competitors as the figures are rigidly defined and there’s little to no room for interpretation.

Ballet flying, on the other hand, is a much more artistic form of competition, he said. A flyer chooses a piece of music, generally between 2 and 4 minutes in length, and choreographs a routine in which the movement of the kite echoes the movement or emotion of the music.

Haworth said it’s a form of competition similar to sports such as figure skating, where the judges are taking into account both the technical ability of the routine, similar to the precision discipline above as well as the overall presentation. Judges are looking to see if the flyer accurately portrays the music or is simply “flying around” while the music is playing.

Haworth said the freestyle discipline, officially called Open Individual Outdoor Unlimited, is a performance category in which a flyer is judged not only on his or her flying, but also choice of music, use of props, and audience engagement.

“One of our competitors has a routine that tells the story of the musical ‘Cabaret’ through kites, costumes, and dance,” Haworth said. “In the past, we’ve also had kite flyers perform scenes from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’ ‘Top Gun,’ and ‘Mission Impossible,’ all shown through the movement of the kite and the actions of the kite flyer. It’s always an audience favorite.”

Haworth said the largest class is expected to be Masters Individual Dual Line Ballet, which is considered to be one of the three “showcase” divisions. Competition in this class will take place Saturday at 2 p.m.

The other two are Masters Individual Multiline Ballet (Sunday, noon) and the Open Individual Outdoor Unlimited (Saturday, 3 p.m.)

The full schedule goes like this:

Saturday, Jan. 18

• 9 a.m. – Masters Individual Precision.
• 10 a.m. – Experienced Individual Precision.
• 11 a.m. – Novice Individual Precision.
• 11:30 a.m. – Novice Multi-line Precision.
• Noon – Combined Pairs Team Precision.
• 1 p.m. – Experienced/Novice Multi-line Ballet.
• 1:30 p.m. – Open Pairs/Team Multiline Precision.
• 2 p.m. – Masters Multiline Ballet.
• 2:30 p.m. – Experienced Individual Ballet.
• 3 p.m. – Open Individual Outdoor Unlimited.

Sunday, Jan. 19

• 9 a.m. – Experienced Multiline Precision.
• 9:30 a.m. – Masters Multiline Precision.
• 10 a.m. – Open Pairs/Team Multiline Precision.
• 11 a.m. – Novice Individual Ballet.
• Noon – Masters Individual Ballet.
• 1 p.m. – Experienced and Masters Pairs Ballet, Open Team Ballet, and Open Team Train Ballet.

The city of Treasure Island is offering parking for $5 all day at the Treasure Island Community Center at 104th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard.
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