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Ray's World Adventures 2002

The 6th International Kite Festival of the Air
 Frejus 2002 Poster At Base Nature Frejus France - November 1-3, 2002

Wow!! This was my 4th time to this great International Kite Festival in the South of France, this years festival was bigger than ever with over 300 kite flyers in attendance from all over Europe and as far away as Lebanon I was the only sponsored kite flyer from North America.

The festival is held in Base Nature a huge 120 hectares wide open space on the coast, it is ideal for every ones choice of sport, giving you the feeling of total freedom to do what ever turns you on, you can literary fly to your hearts content, which for sure most of us took advantage of.

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The first day of the festival was awesome super 10 mph wind beautiful blue sky and bathed in sun shine, the sky over the roped off festival area was one mass of kites of every description a rainbow of colors from some of the most brilliant designed kites that I have ever seen. It was a joy to watch every one flew with so much pride with there individual creations, another thing that is very remarkable is that the kite designers and builders willingness to share there designing talents and Ideas with any one this is at all interested.

The second day the wind was very light in the morning but flyable, by noon the wind changed direction and came of the ocean at18 mph which was to much for some but just right for me I am in 7th heaven doing multiple kite flying in this kind of wind, as it is a real challenge and it kind of sorts the men from the boys :) The spectators were there by the thousands -- this festival is so very well supported by the local population, and again as other years the demonstration arena was so well organized that it was never empty for one minute, no sooner than one demonstration was finished and another was all set up to entertain the masses that had come to watch, and entertain they sure did. With demonstrations from some of the best kite flyers in Europe, individual flyers, Pairs, Teams, Single liners, Rokkaku battles, and sport competitions. In addition, at the end of each day there was a huge mega fly that left the spectators spell bound and eager to return again the next day being more friends and relations with them. Word of mouth advertising is the best way to go, plus the festival had great TV coverage.

The last day of the festival was a kind of a very mixed up wind day, from strong wind one minute then very light wind, to no wind at all, then around 2-30 pm the wind started to really blow and by 4 pm it was blowing 20-23 mph which made it pretty tough for the demonstrators to do there thing, but yes we did it, making this years festival another huge success.

What a lovely surprise to see Susan Thonstad and her boy friend George Larras who had heard through the kite grapevine that I would be performing at this festival, Susan moved to France last year. A lot of people who have competed in the USA previous to the year 2000 will remember this beautiful Blond competitor who qualified many times to compete at the AKA Grand Nationals. A very talented sport kite competitor, she will also be remembered as one of the team flyers of Mike Sterling's Team Cyborg. After they retired in 1996, Susan became a member of Team Indeskyz, Susan brought her kite with her to the festival and told me she had not flown for a long time, but she still had it, and was a delight to watch fly, she also was one of the judges in the Sport Kite Competitions. Sue and I go back a long way it was great to spend some prime time with her again.

The Banquet on Saturday evening was super -- great food, wonderful wine, great company, no speeches, no raffles, no auction, no kites to distract any one, just a huge family of kite flyers gathered together, enjoying each others company to the up most, I have shared the kite arenas around the world with many of the kite flyers, but to me this is a part and parcel of a kite festival, not just sharing the flying field, Jose Vicent the organizer was strutting around like a proud Peacock knowing that each and every one of these flyers are doing there part to make the festival a success.

I was very lucky again for the 3rd year in a row to be staying at the Hotel L'Oasis. I call it my second home when I am in the South of France, and I highly recommend this establishment to anyone that visits Frejus. You will not find better hosts than Isabelle and Gabriel Specht that will literary just about do the impossible to make sure you stay is at its very best. The Hotel is situated in a very calm and quiet area just a couple of blocks from the beach where you can enjoy at your own pace the beautiful walk along the seas front to Saint Raphael.

I have spent many happy hours flying on the beach near the hotel with Thijo Van Beek (The Red Baron Kite Team) and his wife Ada from Holland, and my French kite friend Michel Martin, who I might add has for the last 3 years after the festival taken me on a grand tour of the French Riviera, this time it included a drive into the L'Esterel mountain range high above Frejus, Saint Raphael and the view of the Blue Mediterranean is breath taking, its volcanic history dates back 250 million and 4 years, how do I know this exact date well it was 250 million years old when I first came and I have been coming here for 4 years now :). The lay of the land with its wide open spaces and natural rock formation reminded me very much of the out back in Australia especially the shrubs and the trees all twisted and bent in the struggle to survive and the ever changing colors on the face of the rocks from brilliant orange to many different shades of reds.

As in other years, after a great days touring I was invited to Michael's home where his very charming wife Edith had prepared a great dinner. This was a great way to end another perfect day, on my last day in Frejus. I spent the morning with my hosts Isabella and Gabriel, and at noon I had an interview with a reporter for the local newspaper, and after they gave me a tour of the local sights, then it was back to the hotel to pack all my gear and get ready for my early morning flight back home. This was another truly amazing adventure and a super way to finish off this years kite festival season. Now I can relax a little before it all starts again at the end of January 2003. I am very pleased to say I have been invited back again next year also to three other international kite festivals in France.

As always I could go on for hours reminiscing about this trip but it is time for me to thank the sponsors -- the Office du Tourism de la Culture et de I' Animation of Frejus, Jose Vicent the organizer and his super team of Volunteers who once again did a fantastic job of putting this world class festival together, all the European kite flyers who always are there with a helping hand if I need it, plus making me feel so very welcome, and thank you Michel and Edith Martin, and my hosts the owners of the L'Oasis hotel Isabelle and Gabriel Specht for your Hospitality and friendship. See you all again in 2003.

Thanks for listening,

Ray




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