Sports

Haigh competes as member of stunt kite team

Tell Daniel Haigh to go fly a kite and he won’t take offense.

In fact, he’ll gladly do it.

Haigh, a 39-year-old life-long Oak Harbor resident, is not only one of the top sport kite flyers in the state, but he and his three teammates have earned a reputation as one of the best stunt teams in the world.

“I just like flying kites,” Haigh said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to compete, but I went to a couple of competitions and watched them fly and I thought, ‘I can do that.’”

Amazingly Haigh, who competed with his team, 6th Sense, at the World Sport Kite Championships two months ago, only started flying sport kites in 2000.

He picked up the hobby after watching displays at the Whidbey Island Kite Festival and knew right away it was something he wanted to pursue.

“I went to see it a few years ago, got excited and bought a kite,” he said.

Since purchasing his first sport kite it’s all been downhill.

Haigh practiced with his two-stringed devices over the next few years, quickly progressing his skills in individual competitions. After working as a field crew member for the 6th Sense stunt kite team for about a year he was asked by the elite group to become a fourth member of the team in 2003.

“I basically became friends with all the guys and we all had the same flying style,” Haigh said. “We get along great which is a big thing.”

Other members of 6th Sense include Scott Davis of Puyallup, Bill Rogers of Poulsbo and Wayne Turner of Tacoma.

In June the four men earned the right to take part in the World Sport Kite Championships in Lincoln City, Ore.

Facing off against top teams from Germany, France, Japan, England, Columbia and Malaysia, the Washington-based team finished eighth out of 15 groups.

“It’s amazing to see those other teams, they’re all good — everybody’s the best in their country,” Haigh said.

There was essentially two aspects of the competition– precision flying and ballet.

In precision, participants were required to work together and follow a previously drawn route that involved several straight lines, circles and other precise maneuvers. Those teams that stuck to the plan most accurately were awarded top points.

“Most people who don’t know anything about kite flying, they don’t like to watch precision,” Haigh said.

Ballet on the other hand, provided a more fan-friendly aspect as the kites must move to music.

“You’re interpreting what the music’s doing with your kite,” Haigh said.

While Haigh and the rest of 6th Sense use two-stringed stunt kites, there was also another classification which featured four-string kites.

“I’m not into that,” Haigh said. “That’s too many strings for me.”

In order to keep timing and skill level up 6th Sense meets at least three times a month to sharpen up on their skills. The group, who finished second overall in the nation to earn its spot in the world championships, competes in about nine events in the Northwest annually.

Haigh hones his own skills by trying to practice four or five hours a week.

He said his next goal is to have 6th Sense advance to next year’s World Championships, which will take place in France.

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