World Cup Preview

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by Hans Jansen op de Haar
World Cup Chief Judge

Event Preview

World Cup 1998 promises to be a special one. It will be part of one of the world's biggest and, more important, part of one of the world's greatest kite festivals.

Contrary to its reputation as a festival devoted primarily to single line flyers, this year Dieppe will be expanded and enhanced by two line and four line sport kite competition. About 12 quad-line flyers and 14 teams (more than 65 people) will compete. It will be the first time quad flyers will have their own World Cup.

It will also mark one of the very few times two six-person teams will compete, and never have there been so many three person teams.

The organisation of the Dieppe festival needs little introduction. The sport kite competition is run by Le Federation Fran�aise de Vol Libre (FFVL), a federation which has taken under its wing delta flying, para-gliding and kite flying.  The FFVL also ran the competition in Guadeloupe. In any case it will be a well organised festival, which for me, as world cup chief judge, is quite reassuring.

Although the last two or three weeks preceding the World Cup are not very busy, tension builds up. And despite the judges' meetings beforehand, for me this will only ease up after the start of the first pilots' meeting.

The comments of the pilots will suggest to me whether my choice of compulsories was right (if they say it is too difficult) and if they trust the judges (if they applaud hesitantly).

Only a part of what I say will actually be heard, until the first serious question from a pilot is raised. After that, everyone will concentrate on every detail. (In a Euro cup in Germany, all judges entered with dark glasses and a blind man's stick. They got quite a few laughs, but it would have been better to do it at the end. Competitors just want to focus on the information about what to do, and save the laughter for later.)

I know, both from my experience as a pilot as well as a judge, that entering the field for the first time after the pilots' meeting is something special. In Dieppe it will be more than that!

All the kites, cliffs, old fortresses, new buildings, an almost perfect lawn and a lot of spectators will give the World Cup a unique atmosphere. The field director will begin by inviting the first competitor into the field. Judges will be a bit more at ease after their first notes, but for each pilot or team (and likewise each time for the field director) it will be the tensed start of that essential 5 minutes (11 to 15 but who counts?)

Scores are tabulated quickly, but everybody has to calculate. Teams will start with precision, and knowing it will count for only' 30%, reckon ballet will get them in front. Four lines individual will start with ballet, and they know those small differences can be reversed with one or two good flown compulsories!

Tradition has it, that in World Cup, precision (standard 3 compulsories and a technical routine) counts for -only- 30% of the overall score. This year the f.l.i. will make their first appearance at WC, and the same split will be applied. Next year will be different though, having both precision and ballet count for 50%. Also the difference in team size between precision and ballet will be altered.

If all goes well (weather!!) Saturday evening will be something special. There may be an auction, but there will definitely be the opportunity -- better than at any pilots' meeting or debriefing -- to exchange ideas, discuss the future, criticize judging, complain about the level of flying, bla, bla.. and have serious fun of course.

Personally I will try to get at least a 40 person mega-team flying. Since my -failed- try in Bristol 1991, I have developed some theories that partly worked, probably because most flyers reacted politely to my requests.

We will see. As I have said and wrote many times before, enjoying it is far more important than winning it, and making friends more essential than being competitors.

A Word About Rules

Traditionally it is the chief judge who decides on the rules and compulsories for World Cup!

But that is a very simplified summary.

In the early years, rules had to be invented, since the sport was hardly on its feet (sorry, "had hardly taken off") Led by Robbi Sugarman, the first judges' panels tried to develop a sport, more than working out the final rule details. Most of it ended up, straightforward or after some debate, in the rulebooks.

Some details, such as combining two disciplines like precision and ballet, have never been incorporated into a rulebook, except in the "World Cup Unwritten" one.

There, it is 30% precision/ 70% ballet; and teams can change their shape any way they choose. (1998 will be the last year...)

For a few years it was simple enough to just use the existing AKA book. Then the designing of new compulsories for World Cup triggered a few developments. In Europe(for example, at Euro Cup), having new compulsories  was standard procedure. (As the abilities of the competitors developed, so should the means by which to test them.) In using the same procedure and attitude (!) at World Cup, it became clear the "rules" should develop with the sport, not tie it down.

The chief judge would select from rulebooks and amendments whatever seemed to be appropriate, and would design a few other compulsories, to adjust one of the tests.

Now more is at stake. Because rules in different continents have grown separately (both in form and content) it is necessary to compromise, to not deviate too much from either side, because that could mean an unfair advantage to some competitors. The USA stayed behind in using "precision" as a competition format, especially for quad and pairs. In Europe most things on and around the field were standardised, simplifying pilots' meetings.

Newly designed compulsories for teams have sometimes led to controversies, partly because USA fliers are not accustomed  to being confronted with something new every (Euro) competition, whereas the Europeans are.

For me, all this was sufficient reason to write a new rulebook. It should combine the best ideas and attitudes of all continents/competitors/judges, and, after one or two years, give theWorld Cup chief judge an opportunity to initiate new developments based on common rules.

It has been explained to me that choosing a completely new rulebook for World Cup was, to say the least, a bit risky. Nothing had been tried out, and lots of time isbneeded to study those rules (time better used to fly).

So, departing from to tradition, the World Cup Committee voted.  The outcome:   continue to use old rulebook, and wait for new one(s) to prove themselves.

This year's judges' meetings will be interesting. And fliers will learn about it. One of the STACK amendments to Rulebook III makes a debriefing mandatory. It has proven its value over the last years, to get together afterwards and exchange ideas between fliers, judges, organiser(s).

For more information about World Cup rules, compulsories, and judges, go to Hans' site at

Information From the Event Organizers

Competing Teams

Aftershock (Japan)

Speed (Japan)

Chicago Fire (USA)

Shanti Air (USA)

Positive Lift (Australia)

Fun Unlimited (Germany)

Garuda (Germany)

Punchline (UK)

Lung Ta (France)

Keops (France)

Highlife (Belgium)

Harlequin (UK)

Flipaut (Italy)

Air de Rien (France)

Sky Line (Sweden)


Dieppe 10th International Kite Festival

September 5 to 13, 1998

An event featuring kites

It seems that what was, only twenty years ago, a practice either confined to children or done somewhat discreetly by adults, has gained acceptance to the point that it can be taken seriously ; without loosing any of the positive apriority it naturally meets.

For most people, seeing a kite conjures up holiday time or a part of childhood.

Less than two hours away from Paris, Dieppe provides a most beautiful demonstration venue between Dieppe's town centre and the seashore, for Europe's major Kite Festival. Eight hectares ( 20 acres) of lawns unfold for the benefit of public and kitefliers, on which kites from thirty countries take up residence.  The public is offered a chance to see the whole range of disciplines put on show by top kite-fliers : stunt, traction, traditional, fighter, historic kites.

Over two week-ends, the show is non-stop.

In France specialised kite shops number over 70, not to mention the ordinary shops and supermarkets.

Two clubs are formed every month, and a federation has been organizing the French championship for the past three years.

Festivals attract growing crowds. The media grant periodic coverage of kite practices and two specialised magazines are available from news agents. Over 300,000 kites are being purchased every year.

In Dieppe a kite village is set up on the seafront lawns : each delegation enjoys a space where it can display its creations and treat the public to kite-making demonstrations. The village also includes shops carrying a wide range of kites, and catering facilities.

Permanent kitemaking workshops make it possible for the young and the old to get to know, make and love kites.

Three demonstration areas (two of which are equipped with a public address system): one is devoted to kites flown by foreign special guests, another devoted to sport kites, the third is available to registered kitefliers for free flight.

Troughout the festival, public access to the kite village, all three demonstration areas and tiers is free of charge.

A Brief History of the Dieppe Festival

1980 September
Dieppe's first kite meet was a feature scheduled by the Jean Renoir Centre for Cultural Action, and attracted kitefliers from half a dozen European countries. This meet was to take place every other year.

1986 September
The 4th meet greeted delegations from afar for the first time: Thailand and China.

1988 September
Dieppe 5th international kite meet became Europe's major event of its kind, with 17 foreign delegations attending, and was granted the media's blessing.

1990 September
The 21 countries attending included Germany, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, USA, France, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands and Taiwan. 120,000 spectators came to meet 400 kitefliers on the lawns of Dieppe.

1992 September
The association " Dieppe Capital of Kites " presented its 7th International Kite Festival, featuring 22 countries. Austria, Brazil and Israel attended for the first time. 500 kitefliers flocked to beach lawns. Over 150,000 visitors confirmed the   attractiveness of the event.

1994 September
The 8th International Festival continued to rank as Europe's major kite event. This year's newcomers were Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, along with 25 other countries. Despite bad weather conditions, the Festival welcomed over 120,000 visitors.

1996 September
300,000 visitors
140 guest kitefliers
1,000 kitefliers welcomed from 30 countries.

1998 Events

The organisers' expertise in terms of logistics and  performing arts has allowed the Festival to outgrow the level of a kitefliers' meet, albeit international, and reach for the intensity and attractiveness of an event with the potential to arouse worldwide public and media interest.

Traditional field. Extra international flavour.

.The big O-dako.

.Fighter kite world cup.

Sports field. Final of French Championship.

World stunt kite cup.

Team flight world record.

Arts field . Creative competition.

.The corridors of wind.

Historic field. The first Wings


Extra International Flavour.

Kite making and flying is a widespread practice throughout the world. Each culture develops a particular connection to its kites.

Indeed in 1996, the twenty nine countries attending Dieppe arrived, bearing witness to this unique relationship, that of their kites to the culture from which they originated, and the relationship of human being to the skies above. Among the 30 delegations invited to Dieppe this year are kitefliers from Afghanistan, who will join in their first appearance in Europe. In that country, Taliban law forbids kiteflying, amongst other things.

Dieppe will prove to be, once again, the only place for meeting and contemplating the various traditional and cultural expressions of kites around the world.

September 12
The Big O-dako.

Every year in May, traditionally, a kite festival is held in Yoka�chi, Japan, featuring  the take-off of an O-dako, a kite of impressive size : 13m x 12m. On the back of the O-dako's sail, hundreds of negaifuda, or "wish tags" are attached by the children of the town . They write down their wishes so that the kite should carry them through the skies for the gods' attention.


September 5 & 6
World Fighter Kite Cup.

Never will a kite fight have brought so many countries together: from Japan, Brazil, the Caribbean, and also from Korea, Thailand, India, Europe and elsewhere, the top specialists of this discipline, still little known, will confront each other for a World Cup.

Kite fights periodically set ablaze the skies of Asia and Latin America. The objective is more or less the same everywhere : to maneuver one's kite in order to to force the opponents' kites out of the sky by tipping their kites into a spin , or by cutting their line. They will fight by the dozen, tangling and untangling their thread until only one remains : the master of the sky.


September 5-6
French Championship Final

With over 50 teams attending, Dieppe brings to a close France's third stunt kite championship and will therefore rank as one of the major kite sports events.

Nowadays stunt kite fliers show increasing interest for this structured and federal competition. Although the competition and its rewards are far from the economic stakes implied by a victory in a sport such as motor racing, a victory remains a yardstick for physical and coordination capacities of a team, as well as kite performances. Being the French champion has turned out to be a stake.

September 11 to 13
World Stunt Kite Cup

Unquestionably the most sought after sports event in the kite world, the World Cup is now a classic must where top pilots endeavour to meet the title and consecration.

This international Competition, which was able to arouse the interest of public and media when it last took place in France in 1994 in Le Touquet, has since gained further aura and recognition through its subsequent editions.

Only top pilots will be able to enrol and struggle for the World Champion title.

September 12-13
World Team Flight Record

The bet might seem risky. Consult one of your stunt kite crazy friends, and he'll tell you that flying over 50 stunt kites together in a ballet (what aficionados call a mega-team) is difficult and requires perfect coordination between the team members and perfect command of one's kite.. When Pierre Marzin (Europe's stunt kite champion several times) shared his idea with us, he could convince us at the same time: the best pilots in the world, the best stunt kites, the best lines and particular technical preparation can pave the way for a most unique* show in the world. This record will be granted official ratification in the book of records.

*Current mega-team record included 38 kite fliers in Dieppe in 1996.

September 5 to 13
The Corridor of Wind

When standing on a pier, facing the sea, one can imagine oneself walking in an endless corridor; the sky turns into impalpable walls and doors, the sea into liquid ground. We shall set up musical aeolian structures so as to include the wind into the scenery.

Nowadays more and more kite fliers develop interest in the wind as sound producer. We extend the harbour pier for a musical and visual exhibition.


September 1
Creative Kite Competition.

It draws its importance from both the prizes awarded and the legitimicy of the competition. Being awarded a prize brings a kite flier recognition that can involve other invitations, other trips.

Presided over by the Miro Foundation, the 1996 creative kite competition was unprecedented in terms of the number of entrants, over 200. This creative kite competition is now the most sought after in Europe: participants come from France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, UK or Italy.

Septembre 5 to 9
The First Wings.

Before engines made the conquest of sky possible, before aeroplanes and aircrafts entered history, there were kites. Although the epic of Saconney, Cody, Hargrave, Pocock is not as well known as that of the first aviators, it is however not devoid of human and technical feats which set these men amongst the pioneers of aeronautics. By highlighting these kites over the Festival, our aim is to make the public sensitive to a part of our technical and scientific heritage.

 More Dieppe Festival information available at