Location: Seattle, Washington
From: September 28, 2006
To: September 30, 2006

The first Kite Sailing Symposium was a fast and furious weekend of events highlighted by lectures, discussions, and more than a little fun. Kicked off by a look at early kite traction from 1830’s vintage “March of Intellect” prints by Scott Skinner, the symposium returned to a serious tone with Joe Hadzicki’s examination of creativity and invention. Joe used group participation, question-and-answer, and lecture to give the group a foundation for thought. This was a great way for us all to become comfortable with one another, step back from the seriousness of academia, and open our minds to what would come in the next few days.

Peter Lynn, Sr. followed with a sometimes lighthearted look at his 20+ years of kite sailing experimentation. He provided a serious historical context and gave credit to the modern pioneers, Bruno Legaignoux, Corey and Billy Roeseler, and others. He also discussed his own approach, in making a single-person, kite sailing watercraft. This led to the land-based kite-buggy and has culminated in the KiteCat, a twin-hulled, four-ruddered boat that can be transported, assembled, and sailed by one person. It is an economical approach that will appeal to the sportsman with water close by and wind in abundance.

Pete Lynn, Jr. gave a technical explanation of the problems inherent to kite sailing. His technical expertise, as well as his hands-on experiences were interesting, amusing, and stimulating. Pete is developing remote control systems and highly efficient kites to push the envelope. Dr. Richard Ruiterkamp also provided theoretical basis to the arguments for kite sailing. Involved in the Delft University LadderMill project, he showed the progress of remote-controlled kites in a LadderMill-based sailing craft.

Dave Culp and Dean Jordan of KiteShip showed the potential for commercial motor sailing with kites. They demonstrated that because of the enormous expense of international shipping, savings gained by kite sail usage could provide a competitive advantage in commercial shipping. Barriers to kite sail usage are great, but potential economic savings may be the argument that trumps all preconceived bias. Retrofitting off-the-shelf sailboats with KiteShip spinnakers may be the “foot in the door” that demonstrates the viability of kite sailing to the public.

Finally, the adventure genre was more than represented with Don Montague’s spectacular footage from Hawaii . The self-effacing Montague made it clear that much of what he has done in the past should not be a model for the future, but his experience with the various technologies basic to kite sailing make him a serious voice in future discussions. Not the least of his contributions to the possible success of mainstream kite sailing is his media savvy and marketing expertise.

Audience participation was a key feature to the success of the symposium and thanks go to Olav Aleksander Bu, Billy Roeseler, George Dyson and others who gave their insight to the discussions.

Thanks to all the presenters, attendees, and Drachen Foundation staff who made the Kite Sailing Symposium such a rousing success. The weekend turned out to be a fascinating interchange of ideas and will go a long way to inspiring us all to push forward in our advocacy of kite sailing. My personal thanks go to Dave Culp and Dean Jordan of Kiteship, and Peter Lynn of Peter Lynn Kites, who stepped up and sponsored the event and did their very best to demonstrate state-of-the-art kite sailing systems. We could have asked for better wind conditions, but that might have been pushing our luck.

Presentations showed the variety of approaches to kite sailing and highlighted the problems to be overcome before acceptance of kite-based systems becomes an everyday occurrence. I was impressed with the professionalism of the approaches and the frankness of our discussions – thank you all for that. I know that many personal connections were made between presentations and “after hours,” and this may have been the most important aspect of the symposium. There is just no substitute for personal contact. Thank you all for taking time out of your schedules to attend.

Finally, thanks to the Drachen Foundation staff, especially Renea Neilsen, Dave Lang, and Joe Hadzicki for enabling us all to have such an experience. Thanks to Ali Fujino and Drachen Board members who were available for transportation, food service, and cleanup – the symposium was a perfect prelude to our annual board meeting and a great way for us to meet all of you.

Call us when you have good wind.
–Scott Skinner
President of the Board
Drachen Foundation


Check back soon for a link to the Kite Sailing Symposium Audio Podcasts.

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