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Ray's World Adventures 1998

The 15th Hawaii Challenge
Honolulu, Hawaii - March, 1998

 With El Ninio trying to push us into hibernation, what a great relief to once again be sponsored to beautiful Hawaii. This will be my tenth or is it the eleventh trip to Hawaii, and it is time again for the 15th Hawaii Challenge Sports Kite Championship and the Oahu and Honolulu festivals.

And once again I am the guest of Robert and Barbara Loera at their 4,500 square foot home on top of Maunalani Mountain with an incredible picturesque view of Diamond Head, Ocean and Cityscape of Waikiki; not forgetting the luxury of relaxing in their hot tub sipping a cold beer after a great days flying in super 10mph winds, I mean, man, what a way to unwind.

It was on one of the days just before the Challenge, while relaxing in the hot tub Robert told me with deep emotion and a heavy heart that this would be the last Hawaii Challenge Competition due to the lack of sponsors and participants. This was indeed sad news as I have participated at this event for many years, while relaxing my mind went back to a few years ago when there were 69 Sponsors Advertisers & Contributors, with a dozen or more world class teams names like Top of the Line, High Performance, Tsunami, Swiss Precision, Air Affair, Tori Tako, just to name a few, plus over 70 individual flyers striving to win the gold. Names like Ron Reich, Scott Augenbaugh, Alan Nagao, Burt Sumida, John Oliver, Paul Kappel, Malcom More, Torsten Schmitt, Michael Sehorz, again just to name a few and I might add the Challenge was Carl Robertshaw's of the renowned Air Kraft Team first competition. Numerous world records were made over the years, and the Challenge was the first to create the individual creativity event, now called Innovative, or Freestyle. Paul Kappel, Sports Kite Editor of Drachen Magazine and his wife won the trip to Hawaii in '93 to compete in Pairs and Individual, both taking medals back home with them and always the thought of returning one day.

Robert Loera was the creator of the Hawaii Challenge in 1982 his dream was to make this annual International Kite Competition the most creative and rewarding participant and spectators experience ever, and to make it the most pre-eminent kiting event in the world. The Challenge is the longest running Sport Kite Competition in the World and kicks-off the sports kite circuit in the USA, Robert & Barbara Loera and his event has been great kite ambassadors sharing this sport with tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world that has visited beautiful Kapiolani Park at the base of the famous Diamond Head at the end of Waikiki since 1982.

This years last Challenge was dedicated in memorial to Robert's brother Raymond who was also involved and deeply dedicated to kite flying and worked very hard to show our sport at its very best, Raymond passed away at the age of 37 in December 1997. He was loved by every one that knew him and will never be forgotten. It was a great honor for me to open and close the Challenge with a multiple kite Ballet to the music he loved to listen and fly to.

The challenge was more laid back than other years but more fun was had by all that participated. There were 7 events, Individual Ballet Open Class, Individual Ballet Experienced Class, Individual Quadline, Team Precision Open Class, Team Ballet Open Class, Pairs Ballet Open Class and Freestyle. It was again well organized and well attended by hundreds of spectators. The wind was very light on the Saturday so the competitions were put back 'till Sunday when the weather was great and the competitions ran with out a hitch. The winds 4-7mph gave a chance to show of the competitors skills to the delight of the spectators who were relaxing under the palm trees enjoying the Challenge.

The Awards Banquet was held at Roberts spacious home with great food plenty to drink very warm and friendly. No one wanted to go home until Robert and Barbara came down the stairs wearing their pajamas and night caps, it was time to say good night - or was it good morning - and good bye to old and new friends that we had made that were flying home the next morning.

The following weekend it was the Honolulu Kite Festival, again the winds were very light 1-2mph but they did manage to get the largest Carp kite 360 foot long in the world into the air with the help of a huge crane which held it at 300 feet for 30 minutes or so. The Japanese were deeply involved with a lot more kiting activities and I made friends with many of them as I have been sponsored to Japan for two weeks giving multiple demonstrations at Fujisaki and Uchinada kite festivals in April and part of May.

So what does Ray Bethell do for an encore a couple of days before leaving Hawaii?? Why, he tries Sky Diving and Free Falling.

I only mentioned that I would like to try it and before I could say "Good Stuff" Robert and Barbara Leora sponsored me and my good friend Joe Wolf and paid to have a video done of the whole thing. Man, does the world look small from 16,000 feet, while looking down at the thin coast line of Honolulu's North Shore. I said to the jump master I think I want to go to the bathroom!! He said it is too late, do it on the way down. I said maybe I won't want to do it then, he said with a big ear to ear grin, "You Will, my friend, You Will"! It was awesome, what a super rush, all I could think about while falling at 120mph was how could I fly multiple kites while free falling . Move over Andy Preston!

I want to thank Robert and Barbara Loera for their sponsorship, hospitality, and friendship and I wish your 1999 Hawaii Challenge Kite Fun Festival a huge success. With your world wide experience and knowledge in kiting I am sure it will be.

Thank you for listening.


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