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Ray's World Adventures 2000

Australian Adventure 2000
Ray flies at the Olympic Stadium, by Dominic Jasper

 Ray and Dom in Oz Hi. My name is Dominic Jasper. Ray Bethell and I have been very close friends for the last 12 years. About 3 years ago, Ray introduced me to sport kiting in Vanier Park, Vancouver BC. Then 2 years ago we started flying pairs. After awhile we branched out into flying double pairs, using two kites each. We really got into this kind of flying, and practiced at every opportunity.

We demonstrated for the first time in the US at the 1998 Berkeley International Kite Festival. It was a huge success. We were "on our way" as Ray put it. We tried to put in as much practice as possible, refining our style and technique in 1998 and in the first few months of 1999, which was difficult as Ray was being sponsored all over the world. We worked hard at every given opportunity, but alas, in October 1999 I was offered a great job in Sydney, Australia. I moved there with my wife my two sons. Australia had everything I was looking for: sun, windsurfing, and board surfing (another love of mine), great beaches, etc. The one thing I really missed was team flying with my mate, Ray. Oh, I did a little kiting but somehow it was not the same.

 Eeeejan Logo Then last March Ray had a fully sponsored 6 weeks in 4 states in Australia. This was great news and through e-mails we set up a date when he would be in Sydney. We had a great week together and, yes, we did manage to fly double pairs several times. It was just like old times. On some of the beaches in Sydney you cannot fly kites. We did not know this and were told to leave a couple of times by the lifeguards, but not before we showed the Aussie spectators what sport kite flying was all about.

I showed Ray the sights of Sydney but he had been there a few times before; in fact, he showed me a few places! One day I took him to the Olympic Village to show him Stadium Australia. This is the largest outdoor venue in modern Olympic history; this stadium will seat 110,000 people during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. This is where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held, plus all track and field events and the gold medal soccer game.

 Olympic Stadium At its highest point the stadium is 14 stories tall. It has 8 levels. Four Boeing 747s would fit side-by-side under the main arch. Ray was really impressed. He said it is bigger than a lot of towns in Europe. Ray said, "I bet it cost a few bob" (dollars). It sure did, in fact, $690 million.

As we were walking around the village, Ray said, "Hey Dom, this would be a great place to fly kites. I said, "Let's ask. So I went to the security office and asked about flying a kite in the Olympic Village. "If there are no gates and no one is patrolling the grounds you will not be trespassing, so go ahead and fly your kite," they told us with big ear-to-ear grins. They did not know Ray Bethell and his multiple kite flying.

 Olympic Stadium We found a great spot toward the bottom of the village. It was a kind of grass pyramid shaped hill. We quickly set up Ray's three Kestrels and attached the tails. We were both very excited, thinking we could be thrown out or even arrested at any time. I mean this was no brown paper bag on a piece deal. Ray climbed to the top of the grass pyramid, launched the first kite and put the kite in a 130 foot dive down between the two other kites on the ground; then in one movement all three kites left the ground like bats out of hell. What a beautiful sight! The wind was very strong and gusty. I grabbed Ray's camera and shot a whole roll of film. I know I missed a lot of good shots, but I was so excited and the kites were moving so fast. He did refuels, maple leaf splits, passes and the new move he has been working on, the Crucifix. It was not long before a large crowd had gathered and watched in disbelief as Ray flew three kites simultaneously in the skies over the Olympic Village.

Ray landed the kestrels in a one-two-three mode. Spectators were waving and shouting, "Great display! Terrific! Good on ya!"

Ray then handed the two handles to me and said, "Go for it Dom." Up went the two kites. The wind was pulling me down the hill. I could hardly hold them. I flew for a couple of minutes and that was enough for me. I really don't know how Ray does it. He is 40 plus years older than I am. While we were packing up the kites some people came over to ask if we were practicing for the Opening Ceremonies in September. We just looked at each other and smiled. This was another notch under Ray's belt. Sorry Australia, it has already been done by Canada.

This was a great way to end our week together. I was very sorry when his time in Sydney was up and he had to move on to Queensland. When I take the family to the Olympic Games in September I will look over and see Ray flying his Kestrels on top of the grass pyramid.

"Good on Ya Ray".

Dominic Jasper

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