Ray's World Adventures 1995
Aussie Titles & World Cup VI
Lakes Entrance, Victoria. Australia
Man, am I lucky or what? Representing Canada twice in one year, what a great honour, and to top it all off, sponsor ship that most International kite flyers can only dream about getting. One that puts you first and not vice - versa. Everything I was asked to do was always my choice; it was a Super Sponsorship.
I arrived at Melbourne Airport after 26 plus hours of travel (2-1/2 hours behind schedule) wondering if my prearranged pick up would still be waiting. I need not have worried, for out of the crowd, towering above every one else his hand held out with a big grin on his face a very good friend of mine, Cory Jensen along with Margaret Selleck and her son Chris. They were driving us both to Lakes Entrance, which was a 4-1/2-hour drive from Melbourne; it was a very scenic and enjoyable drive. At Lakes Entrance I was drop off at Lakes Club Hotel who were going to be my hosts for the next two weeks. I was welcomed like a long lost brother. They shoved a beer in my hand and said, "Good on ya Ray, make yourself at home the place is yours". And it certainly was, Their hospitality was out of this world!
It was great seeing some of the worlds best flyers in the same place at the same time, like the notable single line flyers Scott Skinner, USA; Pierre Fabra, France; Ann Harris, UK; Teams Sky Dance, Air Kraft plus all the Aussies, Michael Alvares, Helen Bushell, Neil Taylor, Anne Marie Pardy, and John Daniel, plus many more, They all did a great job keeping the sky a live with beauty and color, Michael Alvares's diamond arch made up of 50 kites, Incredible! Ann Harris's 26ft Kangaroo, John Daniell's paraform and his gigantic beach Balls, Neil Taylor's 300 ft King Tut, Pierre Fabra with his famous # 9 Kite, Scott Skinner with his beautiful log cabin quilted and appliqué kites, it was with sad hearts later on in the festival Pierre's famous #9 kite took a nose dive in to the fast flowing current.
There were efforts to stop it from sinking but to no avail. After a while Pierre and friends did managed to pull it ashore, Pierre was heart broken, all the spars were broken -- most of them custom made very expensive to replace, but one thing the sails were not torn. But this definitely was not going to be Pierre's day, for as he began to pack up the sails the wind catches them and the broken spars pierce the sails tearing them in many places, On the last day of the festival Neil Taylor's 100m Egyptian Serpent Kite broke a line and went to a watery grave never to be seen again :(
I competed in the Free Style event in the Australian Titles, I was up against eager beaver young Aussies, and a flyer from Germany. They were all good flyers, with great routines, there was a lot of two kite work. No Mickey Mouse stuff, each flyer had earned the right to fly at the Australian Titles coming from every state in Australia. I set up for a four kite routine, but changed my mind when the wind turned light and variable, so I stayed with my 3 kite routine to the music 'Wind Beneath My Wings' I asked to be tapped on my shoulder at the first note of my music. I flew my heart out as I knew I was up against Aussies best, I was right on the money landing my third kite just as the music faded away, "so I was told later". I received a standing ovation from the hundreds of spectators. I looked behind me at the judges they were kneeling down, bowing. At the award banquet I was awarded first place with a 29 point lead over the second place winner. Dan Buxton made a special announcement that I was the first competitor ever to receive a full score of 10s! My sponsors were over the moon, so was I.
I was given the honor of opening the VI World Cup with a 7 sport kite demonstration, Custom Allegro Sport Kites created by Shanti Kite Company USA, designed by Dan Buxton head judge for both competitions.
All were red white and blue, Three had Australian emblems, two American and two Canadian. I flew to the music of Waltzing Matilda. The spectators loved every minute. This is the first time any one in Australia had seen multiple sport kite flying, and when I refuelled all seven kites, which was my way of showing the harmony between our three counties, the spectators went wild with excitement.
It was indeed a huge success and a super way to start of the World Cup VI competitions which turned out to be three days of awesome kite flying by some of the best flyers on this planet.
I was very proud of Air Kraft on winning the World Cup. I have backed them every year since I first saw them fly in '93 at the International kite festival in Weymouth, UK. They work well together, all for one and one for all. They are excellent ambassadors for kiting. Winning the World Cup was not a piece of cake, they earned it the hard way, they practiced, practiced and practiced for years, knowing that some day they would win, and win they surely did.
I will not say anything about the World Cup competitions as it will be well covered by all the kite magazines and they will do a great job by puting you right in the front row, but my hat really comes off to "Team In 4 Mation". I have never seen a Team work so hard in trying to win the wild card, they were on the flying field at 6am and practiced until dark, with only very brief stops in between. Both Oliver and Tony's wives came along giving them their full support.
At the awards banquet it was a real treat to watch all the faces waiting for the results of who had won the wild card. Well they put it off until the very last moment and then Daniel Prentice, the World Cup chairman and editor of the American Kite magazine said, "the moment you all have been waiting for. I am proud to announce the winner of the wild card". There was dead silence, you could have heard a pin drop, Team "Ray Bethell" there was a long pause and then a great round of applause and laughter, then Daniel announced "Team In 4 Mation". Well I had never seen such excitement, Andy Phelps did a double back summersault, Oliver Thompson did a double twist back flip, Sara Kent did the spits "with her arms" and Tony Ferrano just sat there repeating over and over again "I don't believe it, I don't believe it." They were over the moon, every one was very proud of them, They really earned the wild card.
I would like to say a few words about the citizens of East Gippsland Shire and all the other people that came from all over Australia to watch for the first time World class sport kite flying, by some of the World best flyers.
The best way to describe the World Cup is that, it is the Olympics of kiting.
Lakes Entrance was very proud indeed to host both of these spectacular events, The Australian Championships and the VI World Cup.
I found the Australian people, especially the community of Lakes Entrance very hospitable, warm, friendly and very appreciative, Bob Dawson, Steve McCormack, and other Aussie flyers told me that I had touched a lot of Aussie hearts. I thanked them for saying that because they have certainly touched mine. I was overwhelmed with theie hospitality, generosity, and friendship. I received many wonderful gifts from spectators. I have lost my hearing but I can communicate with my kite flying to touch some ones heart.
Some of you will laugh, which I understand, as it is hard to believe, it has taken me a long time to come to terms with myself, with my problem, but it has proven many times over to me from people from around the world. Like the beautiful young girl that came up to me and said please wait a moment, she then sat on the sand and wrote a poem especially for me, and said this is the way you make me feel every time I watch you fly. The artist who painted a beautiful water colour painting of his impression of the kite festival to take back to Canada, the 240 lb Aussie bushman, who said "you made me cry" -- I have never felt this good inside before, then he just about shook my hand off. The lovely eighty plus year old lady that trudged through the deep sand just to say "Thank you". The young 10-year-old lad who wanted my autograph and when I signed his program and gave him a Maple Leaf Pin, he offered me his last sticky candy without a wrapper on it. When I popped it in my mouth fuzz and all, his face was as bright as a star, and the restaurant owners that invited me to eat at their restaurant every day, at no charge, they said they took turns to come and watch me fly, "Thank you for the joy you have given us".
These are but a few of the wonderful people that I met at Lakes Entrance, so who "needs" ears when people can touch your heart like they have touched mine.
This trip is by far the most invigorating and immensely self-satisfying kiting experience that I have ever had.
Thank you for listening.
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