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Ray's World Adventures 2000

California Adventure 2000
Seal Beach - August 11 - 13, 2000

 Seal Beach I had just returned home from an awesome trip to the Berkeley International Kite Festival and Competitions, when I received an invitation to LA and Seal Beach from Neil Tuthill, president of ANCAL Productions. They were hosting an event the weekend of August12th & 13th at Seal Beach. I would arrive on the 11th and return home on the 14th, just in time for our own BCKA Pacific Rim 24th Annual Kite Festival (which by the way, was again a huge success). I was kind of looking forward to relaxing a little before the Washington State International Kite Festival, but then I thought ... I have flown at Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Belmont Shore, and many other great beaches up and down the California coast, but not Seal Beach. So I accepted the invitation. After all, LA is only a two and a half hour flight from Vancouver BC, and after all the 10 -18 hour flights I have taken so far this kite season, this would be a piece of cake, right?

Wrong. We boarded the plane right on schedule and sat on the runway for the next two and a half hours. Passengers were informed the maintenance crew was waiting for a small part to be delivered (someone mentioned a spark plug lead), before they could take off. Anyway, most of us who were seated a few rows back from 1st class had fun watching the flight attendants continuously serving those passengers drinks and all kinds of goodies.

Neil was waiting for me when we finally arrived, and luckily he had phoned the airlines and knew I was going to arrive late. I have stayed with Neil many times over the last 7 years. We have become great friends, and I might add, he is a great host, good cook, and makes a great cup of coffee.

The next morning we were on the road to Seal Beach at 7 a.m., a 45 minute drive from LA. When we arrived the beach was already busy. Only in Australia have I ever seen so many surfers, literally hundreds. We quickly set up the flying arena on the widest and best part of the beach. Monty Weston, owner of the Up, Up & Away Kite Store, did all the work in obtaining the permits and this part of the beach, etc.

It did not take me long to set up my kites and get them airborne in spite of the light wind and fog. Soon the local kite club flyers and the San Diego kite flyers were also in the arena doing their thing. It was a big surprise to me later when I was told by Janis Sabic, the president of Seal Beach Kite Club, that this event was put on especially for me and was called The Ray Bethell Kite Fly (for the god of kiting, as Janis put it). I was very honored to say the least. This is one of the times I am very glad I don't hear; even if I do kind of understand what is being said, I can pretend I don't; it gives me time to handle such a wonderful compliment and honor.

The fog lifted later that day, leaving a clear blue sky and 12 mph wind. We all had a lot of "thumbs up" gestures from surfers who had a great view of the kites in action from their surfboards, and also from the many spectators who had gathered throughout the day. Many questions were asked about kiting in general. It seemed like we stirred quite an interest in the local people, and that is really what it is all about.

Alas, it was soon time to pack up the kites and take down the arena, tents etc., as Monty Weston offered to take Neil, myself and a few others out for a meal. (By the way, the name Monty sounds masculine, but this Monty is every inch a lovely lady.)

We were back again early Sunday morning...no fog, bright and sunny, and good wind (10 - 12 mph by noon). The surfers were there in force again and the beach was filling up quickly. Big Daddy was flying his heart out and loving every minute. So were the crowds that had gathered to watch. A short break to grab lunch also gave me an opportunity to watch some of the flying talents of the Seal Beach and the San Diego kite flyers, including Bob Fermin and his 11 year old daughter, Danielle, in pairs flying. Very impressive! If they keep this up, they are really going places; I can't believe they only started flying two years ago. Just for the record, Danielle made 1st place in both individual Novice Ballet and Novice Precision at Berkeley a week before. They also achieved 1st place in Experienced Team Pairs.

The day ended too soon. It was time to pack up, say our good-byes and head back to LA. I had an early flight back to Canada the next day, and getting to the airport while the convention was on was another story. I made it to the departure gate with just 5 minutes to spare. I mean "Phew"!

I would like to thank Neil Tuthill for inviting and sponsoring me to perform at Seal Beach. Thanks also for your hospitality and friendship. The new Bethell pins* look great. You also earn 10 out of 10 for keeping the name of the event, the Ray Bethell Kite Fly, a secret until way after I got there. Many thanks to Monty Weston, Janis and especially to all the kite flyers who made me feel so welcome. I had an awesome weekend and enjoyed sharing the arena with so much talent. I hope to fly with you all again very soon.

Thank you for listening,


Neil Tuthill comments:

We were very lucky to have caught Ray between trips, as he is, without a doubt, one of the most individually sponsored and sought-after sport kite flyers in the world. This remarkable kite flyer traveled 167,000 miles in 1999 and it is estimated that over 3 million people around the world watched him perform. This year he will surpass that figure. He has already 17 fully sponsored bookings for the year 2001. Next week he will be performing at the famous Long Beach International Kite Festival, and there is a rumor going around that he will be attempting something special. (Remember that Long Beach WA is where he made most of his world records.)

After Long Beach he will be off to the UK, Germany and Marseilles, France, then home again only to fly off to compete at the AKA Grand Nationals in Treasure Island Florida, then home for a few days then back to perform in the Frjus Kite Festival in France. This, of course, was very small even considering what Ray is accustomed to, but you would never know it; he performs with the same dedication and skill every time, whether there is one person watching or a hundred thousand. To sum it up in his own words, "I Love what I do and do what I love."

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