I have always wanted to make a trip to Berck-sur-Mer ever since 5 years ago. It is sort of a “kite mecca” for a kite flier as RICV Berck-sur-Mer (12th-22nd Apr) is one of the largest kite festival in Europe. As a team, this trip has been one year in the making.
By Jan, we had final confirmation of the dates and air tickets booked. Logistics were well on their way. The buildup to departure from Singapore on 11 Apr has been nothing short of full-blown excitement. The flight from Singapore to Paris via Dubai has been uneventful. Upon arrival at Paris CDG airport, we met up with our guide from the Tourism office Jean-Charles, Singapore’s own kite couple John and Irene Tan, as well as Pedro of Los Hermanos Show kites and Anna Puig. The 3hrs bus trip to Berck was laced with both tiredness from air-travel, as well as a sense of excitement and anticipation.
We were put up at Hotel Terrasse, right next to the Casino. A handy landmark in case we get lost in the neighourhood. Upon heading out for dinner, we were caught by the exact person that would be part of Team AirNergy for the 1st half of of the festival. Credit to Stephen Hoath of The Flying Squad, who saw us walking past in front of his hotel bar. We exchanged hellos and updates and were quickly off to dinner and a quick tour of the beach.
We were at the beach around 9.30am on Sat morning. Caught festival organizer Gerard Clement at the demo area and got a nice cabin of our own, next to team Cerf Volante Folie. The first weekends of the festival brought hundred thousands of crowd. We spent sometime with Stephen to practise the “Ip-Man” and “New World” routine. Being an accomplished flier himself, it took him pretty much 30mins to get “most” parts of the routine in. He really helped to save our skins! The remaining parts of the days were spent with mega team practices with The Flying Squad and FLIC. Most of the other rev teams will not arrive till the following Thur so it was a relatively smaller 12-man mega-team, coached expertly by the man himself, who else but Stephen Hoath? You are the man!
The days that followed are pretty much mapped out by individual team practices in the earlier part of the morning, followed by mega-team practices. After lunch, demos started hard and fast. Two mega-team demos at the start and the end of the demo period, followed by two individual team demos. By Day 2, Stephen had pretty much nailed the “Ip-Man” routine and we had a good demo by our standards. On Day 3, winds were light and we had to revert to our low-wind comfort routine. We put Stephen through 5mins of stick practice on the “Faithfully” routine and well, it turned out just fabulous!
By Days 4 and 5, Christophe and Marjo, Team Loustiks had joined the mega-team and we were rolling out the famed Rev-car during the demos, with completed with wheels spinning forward and in reverse! Man, that was some mind-boggling stuff, cool! During the reverse, the team mimic the reversing “beep…beep…” of the sand diggers that were in operation every morning. That put a smile on everyone’s faces. In the single line show kites arena, the Al-Farsi kite team from Kuwait were able to put up the 1000 square meters Kuwaiti flag kite, once the largest kite in the world. The title has now been taken over by the giant Manta ray.
At the end of the mega-team on Day 5, all the dual and quad line fliers laid our kites in the sand to read “MERCI”, with the fliers all lying on the sand. Garder, the KAP expert, took a superb aerial shot of our super-mega formation. The image was later printed and signed by all the fliers involved and presented as a gift to Gerard. That’s damn bloody sweet! On top of that, Zul made his appearance at Berck while we were laying our the kites. He made it! So glad to see him!
Day 6 brought gale-force winds (by our standards) in the mornings. The Decorators arrived with the Rev X-tra vents, The Flying Squad with there super vented teabags Rev (Full vent with holes all over), FLIC with there Flower Revs. We were wrestling with our full vents, 4-wrap spars and pantyhose air-brakes as recommended by Marc of Team Air-4-ce. I was sure after the morning sessions, our arms would have lengthened by an inch or so. What a way to introduce Zul to Berck! :P. Thankfully, the winds calmed down after lunch and everyone was grateful for the respite.
The conditions from Day 7 to Day 8 were turning chilly and winds were getting lighter from the forecasts. All the fliers had a jolly good time during the gala dinner at the end of Day 7. The night fly and fireworks at the end of Day 8 was another spectacle altogether. Our good neighbours, Team CVF were on show with their LED lighted white kites, putting up a spectacular flying show. White ghost deltas were out in full force. The highlight of the night fly has to be the 15mins fireworks. Wow! (Photos from Zul below)
Day 9, the finale of the festival. Forecast was almost zero wind :(! The early morning hours were pretty much that way, with very little flying. Most dual line teams were out with their SUL or light-wind kites. We spent the day throwing in some practice as we could and flying with short lines for some fun. As the hours passed, it seems like the wind decided to have one last hurray. Winds strengthened and were creamy smooth at about noon. Demos and routines went without much hitches. We put in 2 team demos as the Decs, Air-4-ce and Loustiks had to leave by mid-afternoon. Team AirNergy had the self-declared honor to perform the last team routine of the festival. We put in our best show of our latest “Sway” routine for the audience. This routine has been sort of a “bogey” routine for us but we are all glad with what we were able to put up. Many goodbyes were exchanged on the field and off it. We had a final dinner with The Flying Squad, FLIC, Pedro and Anna at the Agora. Gonna miss you folks!
What a decadent 2 weeks this has been! Wow, can’t believe that we’ve really made it to Berck! The festival and the people there has been fantastic! The team would definitely love to be back again in the company of these great people. Love ya!
We’d like to extend our thanks to everyone who made our trip so enjoyable and will be forever in our memories! Festival organizer Gerard Clement, Gadis, Michel Maugen and Frederick for the logistics, our friends from The Flying Squad (Stephen, Steven, Hezz and Gary), FLIC (Seb, Philippe, Julien, Sabine and Carole), TFS “Excellent” field director Laeti, Yasu-san of Redbull Kiteforce, John and Irene Tan, Wendy Thomas and Peter “Pan”, Team Loustiks, Team Air-4-ce, Christophe, Marjo and everyone that we’ve come to be with! We couldn’t mention all but you know you brought many smiles to our faces! Hope to see you somewhere, sometime again! Maybe Berck again?