Article and photographs by Scott Skinner

From Discourse 5

Article and photographs by Scott Skinner

Some of kite flying’s most enduring characters were invited to San Vito, Sicily for a first-time festival this May. Headlined by Peter Lynn, Ray Bethell, George Peters, Martin Lester, Robert Trepanier, Claudio Capelli, and Ramlal Tien, the invited kite fliers brought large and striking festival kites sure to attract large crowds. Additionally a

Martin Lester’s spirit kite flies over Sicily at the first Festival Internazionale degli Aquiloni San Vito Lo Capo.

group of first-rate kite artists attended and flew their newest creations. In a small flying arena, highlighted by Capelli’s informed commentary, the kites were spotlighted in a show that lasted 9 days.

At this beautifully organized first festival, fliers were taken in small groups throughout the island to fly their kites in startlingly beautiful environments. Stark hillsides, ocean-fronts, salt-flats: all were backdrops to the kites of Michael Alvarez, Pierre Fabre, Jose Sainz, and members of the Drachen Syndikat. The festival poster is a wonderful

Ramlal Tien’s sentinel kites fly against the backdrop of a stark hillside.

image by noted photographer Hans Silverster and features the kites of Ruth Whiting and Tim Elverson. Here were the best kites and kite fliers doing what they do best; showing their kites to a new audience

ABOVE: George Peters’ ribbon arch kite. BELOW: Michael

Alvarez’s trapezoid box kite.

ABOVE: Robert Trepanier’s rokkaku kite. BELOW: Robert Trepanier’s dog kite flies with Tim Elverson’s camera kite.

in a picture-perfect setting.

The fact that struck me the most during the course of this fantastic week is that great kites really do have a lasting, positive impact. For example, Martin Lester’s scuba- diver has been around for the better part of ten years, as has Peter Lynn’s ray and Pierre Fabre’s “Michelin man.” But these are still fantastic show kites that have instant and lasting appeal. Michael Alvarez’s box kites, Jose Sainz’s Aztec calendar, and George Peters’ flying men are still show-stoppers that kite crowds love to see.

Certainly there were wonderful new creations: Anna Rubin’s flying sculpture, Alessia Morroccu’s delicate and whimsical kites, and Tim Elverson and Ruth Whiting’s camera, cursor, and deltas. But the stars of the week were kites that we’ve all seen many times. It’s taken ten years for us to really appreciate the genius of Ramlal’s sentinals, Robert’s quad-line faces and animals, and Kisa Sauer’s planets. Wonderful traditional kites flown by Mikio Toki and Makoto Ohye from Japan and Indian fighters flown by Stafford Wallace were some of the kites that showed the wide scope of kiting, and Peter Lynn, Stefan Cook, and Paul Reynolds practiced the show techniques of the Ultimate Kite Show by towing large kites in the sheltered bay by the kite beach.

As an aside, the concept of the Ultimate Kite Show is for a number of boats to tow giant kit e s in wat e r s of f popular destinations. This allows promoters to guarantee a show, no matter the winds. Too light? Tow the kites faster. Too heavy? Tow the kites with the wind. It also frees valuable beach real estate and is a completely safe way to manage these giants near large crowds. Several of the veteran kite fliers were treated to a morning or afternoon on the boat to see, first-hand,how the operation works. Stefan Cook as exceptionally patient with this “small kite flier” as we dumped the pilot kite into the water and he had to dive in and swim with the giant shark back to the boat. (Oh well, it’s my job to expose flaws in the best of plans.) A highlight of their ability came late in the week when they drove the boat right to the flying area and walked the kites from boat to beach anchor without a hiccup. Exceptional!

All in all, this event, beautifully organized by Trapani Eventi and Maria Gabriella de Maria, was a huge success and has set the groundwork for future events on Sicily.

Scott Skinner’s geo-pointer kite.