The Flow of an Event
Events typically start at about 10 am on a Saturday morning, however a few minutes prior to that time there will be a "Pilot's Meeting". It is a very good idea to be there for this meeting, not always an absolute must, but it's good idea to be there, it could save you a lot of grief. At this meeting anything that deviates from the norm will be discussed. An example might be some special boundary requirement due to an obstruction, expected heavy crowds or even "don't fly over there because there is a federally protected beach grass in that area", which happened at Nationals in 2000. You will be reminded of some of the rules that can disqualify you such as the locations of the boundaries, where the pit (staging) areas are (more on this later), time limits, etc. This meeting is the first place that you will usually get the schedule of events and sometimes, flight order (which competitor in class X flies first, second, ...).
The competition fields in our area are usually 360' X 360' in size. For an individual flyer, this is a very large amount of space to do your thing in. One side of the field will be designated as the pit area (I told you to make it to the Pilot's Meeting :-) ) for the upcoming competitors to set up their kites and lines. Some times, but not always, the pit is marked with flags. Try to find out as soon as you can, when your class is scheduled to compete and listen for announcements about your class needing to report to the pit area. At that time, you need to get you and your equipment into the pit area. DO NOT FLY YOUR KITE(S) IN THE PIT AREA, CARRY IT IN! This is for safety reasons since this area can get pretty busy. In the vicinity of the pit area is a person known as the "Pit Boss", they usually have a radio, clipboard and sometimes they have a bright vest on. The Pit Boss needs to know that you have arrived at the pits and are ready to compete. It is YOUR responsibility to check in with the Pit Boss. If you do not check in on time, you may be disqualified. One more thing about the pit area, there is usually one end of the pit area designated for entering the competition field, while the other end is designated for exiting the competition field. This helps keep competitors moving smoothly onto and off the field.
For the same reason that you can't fly your kite into the pit area (safety), you are not allowed to fly your kite onto or off of the competition field. You need to carry your kite and lines onto the field, to do this you will need someone to help you. That works out very well though because when you compete, you will want to have another person (know as a spotter) on the field in the vicinity of the kite, to help you in case you have any problems on the field, such as a crash. Don't have a spotter? Just ask another competitor if they would spot for you, or ask the Pit Boss for a suggestion of who might be able to spot for you. When you and your kite have crossed the boundary, you can fly your kite from that point to where you want to be located to start your routine. Be careful though, not to fly back over the boundary line, because this will disqualify you. When you are done competing, you'll be pumped, so please don't forget to not fly the kite over the boundary line. I have seen more than one good flight spoiled by a brief brain cramp at the end.
Once on the field you will find a small group of people out there. One of them is know as the "Field Director". This person is the interface between you, the judges and the sound/announcement folks. The Field Director is a competitor's best friend out there so treat them well. If you are flying in Precision, they will remind you of the figures that you need to fly, complete with diagrams. They will let you know about time issues, like you are taking too much time and need to be ready to fly quickly, the judges are not ready yet or the sound crew doesn't know which track you need because you didn't mark it clearly :-). When you are set to go, tell the Field Director and he will tell the judges and the sound crew. The Field Director has stop watches to time your routine to make sure that you don't violate time requirements, which they will remind you of, just ask them. Also on the field, but farther back from you will be 3 to 5 judges. If you want to start out in a different part of the field than they are (see next paragraph), they will come to you.
Where should you go on the field to fly is usually somewhere around the middle. However, you may need to locate you and your kite near the downwind end of the field if the wind is light so that you can move back to speed your kite up, or just keep it flying. On the other hand, if the wind is strong, you may need to move downwind (sometimes run) to slow the kite down. In this case, you would want to be near the upwind end of the field to have plenty of room.
The best single piece of advice for figuring out how things work out on the field is to carefully watch other competitors going through the process. Try to watch as many as you can, it will really help you know what to do and not do on the field. Last of all, the officials and competitors want this to be an fun and easy process so don't be afraid to ask when you are not sure about something, just about anyone will do their best to help you out.