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About this blog

My personal observations

Entries in this blog

Felix

15/10/2017 Blackheath

The day had started with clear blue sky but a dense layer of low cloud formed before we set off from Hackney.  This cloud layer gradually broke up in the SW breeze and later in the day there was plenty of sunshine.

Full vented kites with race rods were only occasionally slightly underpowered.  We were talking again today about the merits of a mid vented sail and the cost of getting a team set for the rare occasions when they would be needed.

Doubling up the the music playing device worked very well today once the technical issues were resolved finally.  Martin has the reserved ‘seat’, of course…

When it is working the web cam at Berck streamed via You Tube is very good.  I hope that it will be in place for the kite event in April next year!  A two hour window should work very well…

Felix

Felix

The light west to north westerly breeze today was a bit elusive but there was some warm sunshine to make it feel less autumnal than might be expected for the OSOW weekend in the UK.

Full sails with diamond LE and race uprights but we had one casualty with an awkward ground contact.  Two clean breaks in one diamond spar!  I’m wondering if they are still available?

Some called moves today with a different soundtrack…

Chris from Ireland (Ohio/New York) paid us a visit today having recently moved back to London.  We will expect to see him on the kite circuit again!

Felix

Felix

The weather had not looked promising but we were lucky with our usual timing.  It was showery during the drive from Hackney but there was no rain on Blackheath.

SSW with low clouds and the occasional brightness.  The breeze was probably 12 mph with occasional higher spells so we were flying mid-vents with Race Rods.

Nothing called today but we had musical accompaniment and the occasional passing murmuration of starlings.

It seems very early but we are getting asked about plans for 2018.  It is 30 years for the team so we might have to do something special <grins>

Felix

Felix

A mild sunny day with a gentle SE breeze today.  Mostly blue sky with high cloud approaching very slowly from the west.

Full sails with Diamond LE and Race uprights were just occasionally a little overpowered in the variable breeze.  There were quite a few direction shifts suggesting thermals were passing by…

After last weeks introduction to music on site, this week with the brighter weather brought out interested ‘passers by’ in greater numbers than we have seen in a long time.  

It was almost all called flying today interspersed with conversations with our audience.  Quite a change…

Felix

Felix

Back at the usual time and place today.  NNW breeze was supposed to be 6mph but it was not consistent.

Full sails with Diamond LE and Race uprights seemed fine when there was some air movement.

Quite a bit of called flying today not least because we finally (after how many years?) acquired a viable rechargeable music playing ‘device’.  Somehow, even for intermittent flying, having something to counter the A2 traffic noise was very welcome.

Having been dazzled in the sunny intervals a rather dark cloud did produce a short shower that sent us on our way.  The last few spots falling as we got back to Hackney…

Felix  

Felix

A music event on Blackheath meant that we had to find an alternative venue today.  There was a pop-up running event on the Olympic park so we flew in the east end of Victoria Park.

There was a running event in Victoria Park as well as a cricket match but there was still some space in the NE ‘corner’.

The westerly breeze was somewhat erratic and gradually strengthening.  Mid vents with race rods were OK most of the time.

Nothing called but there was a sax, bass and drums combo that set up close by soon after we arrived so we had a live accompanyment. It was a pity that the breeze was not more consistent but in a tree lined area that is what would be expected.

We should be back on Blackheath next weekend.

Felix

Felix



SSE breeze today, probably 10mph and upwards, not that I measured it, so full vents with race rods of various flavours.

The approaching weather front which affected the rest of the country N,S and W looked threatening with slate grey clouds but the forecast held good and there was no rain on Blackheath while we were there!

No calls again today, end of season discussions about recent events and thoughts about priorities for next year took precedence.

We will not plan a formal team trip to Fanø next year as Cervia and Dieppe should be our main focus…

Felix

Felix

A very light 3mph northerly breeze was not entirely consistent so we did not get much flying today.  Full sails with diamond LE and race or diamond uprights worked when the breeze was present.  Rowan clocked some 360’s but I was certainly not going to make that effort!

In these circumstances the great thing about Blackheath is that there is plenty of space and we are not going to impinge on anyone else’s kite flying space.

Jade flew his Portsmouth auction purchase, one of Martin Lester’s white kites…

I put up the 3m JMH rokakku for a short time.  It is OK in 3mph but hard work if there really isn’t any air movement.

Great to see that blue skies did arrive in Long Beach eventually.

Felix

Felix

Westerly breeze today, often dropping away as thermals passed by in the sunny spells.  Full sails with diamond LE and race uprights were just fine.

No calls today as after the last two weekends Ashley was taking a break.  I was almost doing the same (break wise) as taking delivery of a not ‘new’ car has been slightly delayed.

We may venture further afield next weekend subject to transport arrangements and weather conditions.

In the meantime I will be looking out for reports from Long Beach <grins>

Felix

Felix

Everyone arrived in a timely manner for this event with some kites being delivered on site first thing on Saturday morning after transatlantic routing via Hackney and Bexleyheath!

It was a good breeze on Saturday from the west.  Our dilemma was that we did not have the mid vented option which would have been ideal… The full sails with diamond leading edges and race uprights were OK for the regular fliers but others showed their inexperience.

In the lighter breezes on Sunday this theme continued.  Happily there was a breeze which had been in question in the forecasts as late as Saturday evening.

An excellent weekend with some particularly good Mega Team routines thanks to Ashley’s calling…

Felix

Felix

We did eventually arrive in Exmouth on Friday 4th August just before midnight after considerable assistance from the roadside rescue company and in the replacement vehicle that was eventually provided…

All the travel aggravation quickly faded as it was a bright and breezy day on Saturday with just an occasional light shower.  The breeze was actually at the higher end of our comfort window with the JMH vented kites.  We did not have to resort to four wrap spars though; green race were sufficient.

Sunday was equally bright with the wind a bit lighter and more form the west than the north westerly of the previous day.  Full sails with diamond leading edges and race uprights worked well all day.

There were also opportunities to fly the JMH rokakku kites as well as assisting in the festival agenda with other kites.

An excellent weekend… I just need to have a careful conversation about my ‘car’ as we need to resolve transport arrangements for the Portsmouth event next weekend!

Felix

Felix

The Cycle events of the weekend meant that our arrival at Blackheath was a bit delayed this morning.  I must not complain as a spin round the City and Westminster yesterday was, as ever, a bit of a treat!

Slightly blustery SW breeze today so we were on full vents with race rods.

Some called moves today produced some very enthusiastic responses from passers by!  Eventually it becomes a bit difficult to know exactly how to respond to “I’ve never seen anything like it before”.

There was a brief full sunny interlude but the cumulus consolidated into a dark grey mass of clouds that threatened ‘some’ rain.  I had expected a light shower but as we headed towards the Blackwall Tunnel there was a brief deluge!

Exmouth and Portsmouth are all set.  We’ll see what the late summer weather will deliver…

Felix 

Felix

Damon Meheux was already on site when we arrived today.  The wind dropped as the sun broke through so it was a case of us switching from full vented as Damon had been flying to full sail with a short time with the mid vents in between.

Rowan decided to stick with the mid vent as a ‘training’ strategy ahead of Exmouth.

Some discussion today about stacking in the air and how there should not be any ‘pressure’ or need to resist unless a flier is really ‘not capable’ or not paying attention!

Some ‘face to face’ 180’s illustrated how this works rather effectively as the transition requires a complete switch ‘on the controls’ and there is no way of hiding if a flier is not ‘engaging’ correctly…

Felix

Felix

Another gentle day with thick low cloud and increasing humidity.  The breeze was relatively steady so we were on mid vent/full vented 1.5 sails with race rods.

Nothing called but discussion was about the Canada events and ancillary plans for the 2017 Exmouth and Portsmouth events.

Some thoughts about 2018 plans as well…

Felix

Felix

Bright but with gradually increasing cloud today.  The breeze was nominally from the SW but once again we had considerable variations in direction and wind speed, far from constant.

Mostly diamond LE and race/UL uprights.

Another quiet fly.  We did decant the flight box, probably for the last time as we’ll need to replace it!

Hoping to finalise arrangements for the remaining UK events soon…

Felix

Felix

Clear blue skies today with only an occasional small cloud…  Wind supposedly from the NW but we were seeing 90 degree plus shifts in a typical Blackheath summer breeze.

Full sails with ultra light, race and diamond spars.  Nothing called, just winding down from the last two weekends!

The annual race/stroll event was taking place today so we did not bring the broken kite box to re-distribute team kites.  That will have to happen another day.  Plenty of opportunity ahead of Exmouth, the next calendar event!

Felix

Felix

We arrived back in the UK today after a fairly intense 10 days travelling and kiting in Canada.

The first weekend was at Saint-Honore in Quebec.  The site for this event is a live airport.  Flying kites on or close to the third runway was a novel experience.  The other two runways were in use all the time, mostly light aircraft but also military and firefighting craft. 

There was some rain on the first day.  The second day was mostly sunny and ended with one of the best Rev Night Flies that I have experienced.  As the performance was ending the rain started and as the lights shut down with the kites landed there was an intense shower…

The final morning was mostly wet and towards the end of the drier afternoon a thunder storm approached.  We packed kites and then witnessed the formation of a supercell storm with the characteristic cloud formations and final deluge.

We then had three days wandering around Montreal enjoying some of the ‘cultural’ facilities <grins>

The second weekend was at Swift Current in Saskatchewan.  This event has a reputation for challenging wind conditions but we had two days of sunny conditions and fairly benign but changeable breezes.  The gopher holes and their occupants were very much in evidence on the flying field.

We had hoped to be six fliers for both events and we succeeded in finding a volunteer at each one to make the number…

Felix

Felix

A residual cold front passed over Blackheath around midday with some unusual cloud formations.  There was some hope, once we realized what was happening, that the blustery SW air stream would calm down.  It did not happen!

We were on full vented mostly with race rods which were definitely overstressed in the gusts.  At lighter moments we were able to keep the kites in the air without trouble.

All set, such as one can be, for the visits to Saint Honore and Swift Current… Watching the weather forecasts for both sites is a bit interesting at this stage!

Felix

Felix

Not so hot today but there was a mostly steady SW breeze so vented sails with race rods to cope with the lulls.  Typical summer Blackheath wind shifts were in evidence and the swifts were occasionally out in force again.

Nothing called today but we were set to prepare the kites for the Canada trip.  30 kites were duly checked and boxed along with spare spars and the ‘tent’.  Excess sand was discarded as well...

I am now 2 clear months in to my new regime.  It seems that the world at large is intent on upsetting my calm resolve but the absence of occupational stress has been significant!

Just need to get on that flight on the 15th June <grins>

Felix

Felix

The forecast was for 2mph switching from north to south or maybe the other way around at midday.  Not a great prospect…

The net result was predictable, no wind!

The thick high cloud kept the temperature a reasonable c23c and the swifts were putting on a fine display with the very occasional (once today) head height pass.

The thundery depression moving up from the Bay of Biscay lost its bite soon after passing the Channel Islands and did not appear to be very intense when it reached the Portsmouth area c2:00pm.

We will hope for good flying the next two weekends ahead of the Canada trip <grins>

Felix 

Felix

Another pre-11:00am start today.  The wind was from the south but variable in the summer Blackheath way with thermal effect moving through, from very light to ‘quite strong’ and 90 degree direction shifts within a short, c2 minute, interval.

Mostly full sails with diamond LE and race uprights.  One flier left diamond uprights in and lost one in a gust at the usual fail point…

Rowan opted for the mid vent and was able to use his rapidly expanding light wind skills and the extended handles to keep up with the rest of us…

A mostly called session today with Ashley refining the six flier thread to arcs and rotation with the ‘long’ get in.

Canada preparations are almost complete now!

Felix

Felix

Arrived just after 10:30am today as we had arranged to receive the team kites back from Cervia, courtesy Tom.

Bright and breezy from the west, 12 – 20 mph at a guess so we were on full vented sails with mostly race rods.  Six up for a while as Damon had joined us again.

A mostly called session once we got going and even when we were down to four Ashley kept up the pace.  We actually ran through one of the old prepared routines as well which seemed very short and un-demanding compared to some of the more recent efforts.

Four weeks now before the Canada trip.  Just need to agree who is going to do the driving!

Felix

Felix

We were late arriving today, c11:30am and found Maggie already flying with Damon and his brother Justin. 

I had to switch back to a 120ft line-set so as the beach events for the year are done I rolled out a new set of lines.

We flew six for a while with Damon and Justin but as they had been on the Heath since 8:30am they did not stay for long!

Some lazy free flying followed but as the northerly breeze was on the cool side we wrapped at about 1:00pm.

Felix

Felix

And then it was all over.  Monday started with a light onshore breeze.  All very encouraging.  We went to lunch hoping for a classic Cervia afternoon. 

What we got was a quickly increasing breeze which was probably a consistent 30 mph which simply closed the event…

We managed to get the kites and kit safely stowed without loss or accident but it was a close call…

We will hope to be back next year!

Felix

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