The Rok Battle In 2008

At The Adelaide Int. Kite Festival

The Rok Battle at the Adelaide Kite Festival produced plenty of action both on and above the sand! It was billed as the Rokkaku Challenge 2008. Spectators lined the Semaphore jetty as the small hexagonal white kites floated, bobbed and swirled in the heat of battle. The black Japanese number character on each kite lent an air of the Orient to the contest.

A summary of the video action...

One by one they fell, drifting to the sand some distance down-wind. Ruthlessly cut adrift. Except for two kites which looped all the way down to mutual defeat, in a deadly entanglement. There were one-on-one engagements, and general dogfights. A lone Rokkaku kite loitered at the edge of the battle, hoping to survive by flying out of harm's way. It was caught out by the commentator, and re-entered the fray under threat of court-martial. Another Rok had the audacity to take on nearly half the field at once, it's pilot sprinting a quick 360 around the other kite lines. It was an international conflict, Germans against Australians against Italians.

For the record, Number 5 won, with an Aussie pilot from Victoria. My wife approved, since 5 is her favorite number! Here's the video...

Experience levels varied greatly. One young lad who had probably never used a shaver was pressed into combat with the rest (mournful violin music swells...). At least a couple of very experienced and well-known kite designers were also present. For a change, these guys were having fun with a kite worth a couple of dollars rather than a few thousand.

With your eye on the sky it can be hard to watch where you're going, so several kite fliers ended up sprawled in the sand. These mishaps got plenty of laughs from the jetty! All in all, thoroughly entertaining stuff. We'll try to catch next year's event too. Who knows, we might have 2 cameras by then, one for the competitors and one for the Rokkaku kites! Or maybe one zoomed out and one zoomed in to catch the highlights. And a traditional Japanese war music sound-track and and and...

If You've Never Seen This Video...

Firstly, the large inflatable kite in the foreground on the left. This kite functioned at times as an aerial shade for the Festival MC who gave the commentary! A radio mic was used, which was then amplified and fed to PA speakers on the jetty. I thought our camera did a fair job of capturing the voice from those speakers during the Rok battle.

Secondly, the battling kites themselves are the smallish white ones with black markings, in the foreground. With the sky full of kites, it's not immediately obvious which kites belong to the Rok battle. They are the ones moving around a lot more than the other festival kites in view. Partly because they are in the foreground, and partly because of the pilots running around in the sand!

I attempted to keep as many Roks in view at once as possible. Except when something interesting happened! At those times I tried to keep the action in the center of the screen.

Hope you enjoyed seeing this video of the Rok battle in 2008!

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