I usually write this post-convention report to celebrate the winners of the Kitemaking Competition.   I determine whom to congratulate from the comprehensive scores of ten judges that are averaged, summed, and ranked.  The computer prints a report of the highest totals for each category and I award a trophy to first, second, and third place. 

In previous years, the average total score is between 6.0 and 6.5. This year we had record 112 kites entered into competition and the average score increased to a whopping 7.51.  This year, I must congratulate ALL the kitebuilders in AKA’s 25th Annual Kitemaking Competition. 

Volunteers had a wonderful two days registering, photographing, and judging above average visual appeal, flight, craftsmanship, and structural design.  More than thirty people helped this event take place and I need to applaud their enthusiastic legs, hands, and minds.  Each day was long.  As the sun set, our thirst rose, and everyone had to scramble to meet their next scheduled demand without a break.  Thank you all for helping from beginning to end. 

We ran every category and distributed every first, second, and third place award.  As you review the scores in this issue of Kiting, or on AKA’s website, it will be obvious that the competition was tough – many scores differed by a mere tenth of a point.  You should realize the difficult job of being a judge.  We also recognized several Special Awards.  Jiehua Sun’s wonderful use of paint, paper, fabric and feathers on his Dragon earned him the Mixed Media Award.  The design of Lam Hoac’s “Bowed Angel” was passed down to him from his Grandfather and won Best Use of Traditional Materials.  Mike Mossman, a novice kitebuilder, entered a very unusual cellular piece that was simplistic in design but highly innovative.  I am sure we will be seeing more “Kitchi Tako’s” all over the country.  Mike won Most Innovative with his new, very portable, cellular kite.

 The Top Novice Kitebuilder Awards are given to kitemakers that have not won an award in any category in any national competiton.  This year the top three scoring Novices were: Mike Mossman (29.29), Elizabeth Agar (30.37), and David Ashworth (30.85).  Congratulations to each of you. 

 The Special Recognition Award is given at the discretion of the judges.  We award a competitor that shows spirit and dedication to the art of kite making and recognize someone who doesn’t necessarily win an award by the numbers.  The judges have seen this kitebuilder in many competitions and have witnessed vast improvements in his construction over the years.  The patience in his craftsmanship is obvious and his attention to detail commendable.  They say birds of a feather flock together, and the judges wanted this kitebuilder to go home with an award, along with the rest of the Ocean City flock.  This year, we awarded Special Recognition to the kitemaking birdman - Jim Ribar. It was an honor to shake your hand.

 We also reward the highest scores in each of the four criteria.  In theory, the best flying kite, the best looking kite, the best crafted kite, and the best designed kite of the competition.  This year, Lam Hoac and his stunt kite, “Master Control,” took home the trophy for Highest Score in Flight (8.80) and Highest Score in Structural Design (9.23).  Jose Sainz took home Highest Score in Visual Appeal (9.40) and Highest Score in Craftsmanship (9.58). 

Grand National Champion is the highest honor of the Kitemaking Competition.  The judges look at the winners of every category and decide which kite is most worthy of the comprehensive award.  The 2002 trophy went to the visually stunning, “New Zealand Star” by Jose Sainz.  The spars of his kite added as much to the visual appeal as did the sail.  Top-notch craftsmanship, and a keen eye to detail, Jose indeed, is a Master Kitebuilder.  His total score was an outstanding 35.82. 

As I said in the beginning, the competition this year was far above average and I need to congratulate everyone who entered.  There were a lot of quality kites that unfortunately did not receive and award.  But I also need to remind you, if your kite did not win a category, you can enter it again next year.  We go to Dayton, Ohio in 2003 and I look forward to the two long days in the sun, staring high, and agonizing over the decision of who to score highest.  I hope to see all of you (and more) next year.

Steve Ferrel, Head Judge 2002