The next time someone tells you to ‘go fly a kite’ you might want to take them up on it.
With the Victoria International Kite Festival just around the corner, May 29 to 31, I decided to put thoughts of work, household chores and weeding my garden aside and head to Clover Point to meet up with Terry Wiggill of Team Island Quad.
If you’ve been to Clover Point and marvelled at some of the large, colourful kites that fill the sky almost year round, chances are you’ve seen Wiggill. He’s there most days, flying a variety of kites, depending on the wind.
Wiggill, who began flying nearly 10 years ago, says the only trick to flying a kite is to keep the wind at your back, be patient and persistent.
Of course, having the right type of kite for the wind speed and a few tips from a pro like Wiggill can’t hurt either.
I meet Wiggill around 2pm, the wind is very light and the skies are clear. Kites don’t like the rain.
We begin with a single line skate, it’s so light, it will fly indoors, says Wiggill. My experience with kites is limited and usually ends with a tangle of string and a string of strong language.
This kite, Wiggill holds about 10 feet away from me and it floats in the air. With almost no effort, the small, light, grey sail gently lifts into the sky.
I’m instantly lulled into the effortless action.
We chat as the kite lifts above us. But there are bigger kites to fly in Wiggill’s arsenal. Today he’s also brought along a dual line delta, a quad line revolution and a single line rokkaku, with artwork he designed.
“It’s a huge culture,” says Wiggill, but not in Canada. “Compared to Malaysia and India and other parts of the world where it’s huge. It’s a different vibe here.”
Kite festivals in other parts of the world can attract 100,000 visitors. While the still fledgling Victoria International Kite Festival drew around 10,000 last year, Wiggill says it’s a good start.
At last year’s festival 500 kites were built for kids to fly, this year, they hope to make some 800.
“The majority of people are more mature, but they bring the young component with them,” he says.
After a few false starts and a lot of help from Wiggill, I manage to get the delta in the air. Two dramatic crashes into the ground later (no vehicles were injured in the outing), my body is slowly getting used to the push and pull needed to guide the delta that Wiggill calls “a big, old slow thing.”
With ease, Wiggill pulls the revolution into the air, although the wind is a bit light, he shows me how to manoeuvre the sail that’s anchored by a graphite frame. This one he can flip, spin and fly upside down.
“It takes focus,” he says. “You have to keep it in the air, do different things with it, it’s meditative. Everything else falls away.”
It’s also a lot of fun and social, he adds. “You get a wide range of social, political, religious persuasions out here, but most people leave that at home. Here everybody is just getting together to fly kites.”
See Wiggill and Team Island Quad along with other expert fliers at this year’s Victoria International Kite Festival, May 29 to 31 at Clover Point. Go to victoriakitefestival.com for more information.