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2014 AKA Grand National Champion Dennis Smith

At the 2014 AKAGN, Dennis Smith set his own personal best record in Sport Kite Competition, and joined a very elite group of flyers. Dennis won BOTH the Master Multiline Ballet AND the Master Individual (Dual) Ballet. And as we kiters know, this requires the utmost in skills and sensitivity to many things at the same time: Kite performance, line response, wind effect, skill sets, thousands of hours of fly time to hone all of these different aspects into a maturity to fly your routine, but be spontaneous to constantly shifting circumstances. And using different skills for each type of Sport Kite, Lam Hoac, Shawn Tinkham, Josh Gordon and Dennis Smith have been Master of both in the same year!

Now, it’s hard to explain to a non-flyer about Sport Kites in general, much less the different kinds. So bear with me a moment or two while I try to clear up the confusion. In all cases the lines are a set length. (A single line kite flies downwind on as much line as you want to rewind.) Whether 2 or 4, all lines must be the same length, otherwise there’s inconsistent pull, so off balance will happen a lot.

Unlike single line kites, sport kites move only when we are ‘piloting them’. They ‘tack’ the wind window, much as a sail boat, and even more like a water skier. In fact, the flier/pilot is equal to the boat, and the kite is like the skier. As long as there is enough wind, you can fly for hours (and many do!)

For the differences, think of the dual line as a fixed wing airplane performing spinning, loops, stalls and precision tracking. Later came the slack line tricks that are intense acrobatic effects with your ripstop and rods at the end of 65’ to 120’ depending upon your line length.

The quads are comparable (for this illustration) to a helicopter. Again, matched lengths of line, generally 80’ to 120’, again performing spinning, loops, stalls and precision tracking. But now you add hovering to stalls, reverse flight and “quad effect”. What’s that? Quad effect is the ability to full stop, change speeds and/or direction, at will. Ultimately, there is a huge difference in both the flyer’s mindset (the discipline of competition vs. looser ‘pleasure’ flying) and the two styles of flying (duals are at the mercy of the wind vs. quads can be easily adjusted – even just moving your hands on the handle).

Dennis is pleased with his development of flying styles. “All the things you wish you could do while flying your dualie, you can do on a quad.”

With this understanding of the differences of the dual and quad kites further shows the remarkable accomplishment Dennis achieved. Congratulations, Dennis, on your success as well as a thank you for your inspiring performances.

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