Ray resides in Vancouver, BC Canada, and is without a doubt the world’s premier multiple kite flyer.
Ray started sport kite flying in 1980 and for many years he flew in team competitions with his team “The Vancouver High Flyers”, often placing first, second or third in North American competitions. Individually Ray always was an innovator and began flying two kites around 1984. It was a long road to success since there was no one to copy or learn manoeuvres from let alone find the required accessories. Slowly but surely Ray developed and refined a kite flying technique that is now copied by many multiple kite flyers in the world. Being a craftsmen by profession it also didn’t take him long to develop and manufacture special handles, kites suitable for his style of flying and find the proper lines required to achieve the perfection he is so well known for.
Ray first taught himself to fly two sport kites simultaneously, one kite from the hip and the other steered with his hands. Adding special handles to his kites allowed him to add a third kite to his routine: one kite attached to his waist, one kite in the left hand and the last kite in his right hand. While competing with his team, organizers started to ask him to give demonstrations during the festivals. It wasn’t long before Ray began competing with his three kites in events like Freestyle, ballet, and mystery ballet at kiting competitions. With his team, Ray was a competitor in the first Sport Kite World Cup held in the U.S.A. during 1990. They also qualified to represent Canada again at the 2nd World Cup at Bristol UK in 1991.
Ray has continued to compete in the Freestyle event during national and international events. As the list of first places proves he was and is the World’s Number 1 Multiple Kite Flyer. He even received a perfect “10” score during international competitions in Australia in 1995. This has never before been achieved and many believe it will never be repeated. But at the South Padre Sport Kite Competitions in February 2004, Ray scored another perfect 100.
But what makes watching Ray fly so incredible is the fact that you can see himself in his kites. They are no longer pieces of nylon and graphite, but have come alive. He moves like his kites graceful and in harmony, and his strength is reflected in the slow and precise movements of his kites no matter how strong the winds are. He has the technical sophistication of an aerodynamics engineer, he has the poise and precision of a ballet dancer, and he has the endurance of a professional athlete as proven again and again by his world records.
To draw even more attention to his sport, Ray began in 1991 to set world record marks for multiple kite flying. His first attempt at an endurance record in Long Beach Washington saw him fly his two kites simultaneously for 4 hours 19 min. In 1992, at the same event in Long Beach, WA, he established a new world record, flying three kites simultaneously for 5 hours 42 minutes. Not content with that he continued to break his own records in 1993 flying three kites simultaneously for 8 hours and 42 minutes and again in 1994 setting the current official world record of flying three kites simultaneously for 12 hours and 12 minutes. In August 2003 Ray flew 3 stacks of 13 Dina kites 13 from each hand and 13 from his waist a total of 39 kites.
On Oct the 8th 2006 Ray had another great honour bestowed on him he was given his own Park Bench placed in Ray’s home flying field is Vainer Park in Vancouver, B.C. Vanier Park is a beautiful ‘flying’ park, in close proximity to both the ocean and the mountains. “Ray’s spot”, as local kiters call it, lies on the edge of an ocean walkway. Thousands of people have stopped along this walkway, mesmerized by Ray’s beautiful sky ballets. Ray Bethell. Ray is undoubtedly the greatest kite flier in Canada, and the only living Canadian inducted into the World Kite Museum Hall of Fame. We are proud of his accomplishments and grateful for his efforts as an international kite ambassador. This bench was made possible by donations from kite flyers from around the world to honour Ray’s contributions and accomplishments.
2009 was another great year for Ray he was fully sponsored to perform at International Kite Festivals in Berck France, Cervia Italy , San Vito Sicily, Ocean Shores WA and Long Beach WA. Ray was also invited to many other international kite festivals around the World but just could not fit them all in.
When Ray is not away in far off places, he can be found practicing in Vanier Park in Vancouver where he delights hundreds of locals as well as visitors from around the world with his multiple kite demonstrations. Ray has become one of the most photographed and videotaped attractions in Vancouver.
Ray is a picture of health; He considers his sport to be age less. If anyone is addicted to kite flying, Ray is. But what is the underlying factor that has him firmly planted in kite arenas around the world on a near-daily basis? Is it the technical challenge, the athletic demands, the creative potential, the showmanship, the competitions? Certainly they all play a part, but according to Ray, the primary drive to fly is to see the delight and happiness in the spectator’s faces, as he shares with them his love for kiting. He loves what he does and does what he loves.