Martin was on the field early and had done three changes of spars in the 1.5 full vented by the time I arrived. So it was full vented and green race for the second weekend running. Today was lighter than last weekend with no threat of thundery showers. The breeze dropped off completely on occasions.
For most of the time we flew 'free form' hitting the interaction points to a silent accompaniment. The swifts do it well as I mentioned a while back. I was drilling a 'counted turn' pattern which very much relied on a full pull back for upward LE horizontal moves. Handles horizontal, full forward pulled from outstretched arms forwards back past the thighs <grins>
Eventually we fell in to some team moves called by Ashley with some crisp execution by all until the breeze dropped once again.
We're still hoping to go to Knokke-Heist in Belgium 20-21st August but will only know coming Wednesday 27th July if the event is actually going ahead.
It was Johnny Claffey's 50th birthday party celebration last night and while I had not expected him to be out flying kites today I had not anticipated that I would be the only one from the team to turn up at Dunstable c10:00am for a casual attendance at the two day event.
At Long Beach last year it was apparent that most of the fliers were in possession of all the JB Sails and they quickly took the 'mid vent' option in intermediate conditions. At Dunstable today almost all of the fliers made the same choice. I do not know if they were all using race rods but TFS certainly were during the morning session.
I opted for the full vented kite with green race rods which felt comfortable in drilling long arm turns and traverses. I was particularly conscious of the long pull back needed for a vertical flight with the LE horizontal. No deck chair option here!
Leaving the event soon after 2:45pm I saw lightning over London in one of the passing showers.
It was another light wind day on Blackheath. There was enough to keep the full sail 1.5s with Race frames moving most of the time for individual flight.
In team we slipped into parallel passes in a block form expanding and contracting the square of four fliers following last weekends grid fly. We did not try rolling the ball today. That is an exercise that needs a steady breeze. Some freestyle cogged rotations led to some interesting tangles that were unwrapped successfully in flight.
A run through of 'Plan A' rounded things off with the observation that one flier was getting into trouble with hands high in the air. Symptom or cause? Moving on the ground sometimes has to be quite radical in team flying in order to keep things neat in the sky especially in marginal conditions.
Well it really was sunny Sunderland, especially Sunday. Light and variable breezes through the weekend with occasional lulls to very little indeed. (Somewhat different to conditions last year!)
However, some of Fusion and some of The Decs put together a couple of 'small grid' performances to round off the event on both days. Given the light breezes the 9 person 'moving grid' proved to be the way to keep things together with the 'expanding and contracting grid' in horizontal transit a notable success. Both teams performed their arena presentations as well.
The Decs first attended the Washington (Tyne and Wear/Sunderland) event in 1989 and have returned a dozen or so times since then. (I was there in 1987, I think, before the team was formed)
The forecast came good and shortly after 10:00am I arrived on Blackheath to find a 'full on' UK Summer's Day.
Not much wind, that is, and the slight breezes shifting quickly through 180 degrees and more.
It was great to get the Zens out and lock in to the 'treacle interval' some of the time. 'Flailing' in slow motion to accommodate the size of the kite is just so 'cool'.
I was conscious of the 'three finger tips' on the handles 'no grip' with the thumb nail and small finger nail occasionally in opposition to the fingers. Every opportunity to drop the handles. <grins>
No doubt it will be back to earth next weekend in Sunderland but we will be prepared...
Second short weekend (working 9:30-1:30 Saturday) so looking forward to a proper weekend next week prior to the Sunderland event.
The 'westerly' c15mph breeze on Blackheath was relatively clean today but still shifting c30 degrees in direction and proportionally in strength. Full vented and 4 wrap was the order of the day.
After the rain and bluster of the last few weeks we did not fly 'in team' as such today but I did notice some fairly wicked passing moves where the individual kites are finding the spaces and recognising the trajectories of others in close proximity. The ability of the fliers to 'stop' precisely in any orientation 'if needs be' is a key issue here.
My 'piano scales' today focused on the 'holding stress/release' of arms straight down and engaging this stance with basic kite turns. <grins>
The forecast seen last Sunday was correct. It was wet on Blackheath today meaning that since returning from Cervia it has been blustery or wet every Sunday. Seems like we had Summer back before Easter...
At least it was not too windy at c10:30am to put up full 1.5 sails with Race Rods but not much more than an hour later the decision was not to get another sail wet in the increasing breeze but to call it a day.
We (four fliers) rolled the 'ball' without calling LE edge out and LE edge in and it appeared that the reflexes are becoming more automatic with everyone watching the shape and responding accordingly. The fact that the pathways for individual kites are not 'linear' makes for a fascinating manoeuvre. <grins>
A slight respite today, 1.5 Standard Vented 4 wrap was good for a late 11:00am start but thickening high cloud turned to rain early in the afternoon.
The current forecast is for rain next Sunday as well, maybe making up for the drought, this Spring, in SE England. I will take the wet weather gear, just to be sure...
Just before leaving Blackheath today we discussed some aspects of 'long arm' flying, using arms, shoulders and torso as well as moving on the ground to 'throw' the kite around the sky and achieve absolutely 'rigid' stops 'at any angle in the sky'. Light wind techniques translate directly into middle and high wind conditions providing that 'brake' settings are appropriate.
Blustery... the needle is stuck! I remember Bart complaining about local conditions in Canada but thankfully a more seasonal anticyclonic system will be back in place over the UK by next weekend. No doubt the Exmouth contingent will have a good time with my iQuad kite sets in the lighter conditions.
Today on Blackheath we saw an 'uncalled' LE edge 'up' stack which was very cool along with some very good improvised space occupation, again obviously, not called. On the called side 'counter rotations' and asymmetric 180's featured along with some stepped spokes.
Full vented with '4 wrap' in the main but I switched from Mega Vent '4 wrap' to 'green race' which was interesting. The relationship between weight and flex seems to be a bit crucial especially in marginal conditions at either end of the wind speed spectrum <grins>
Another blustery day but no question about framing. Four wrap super vented was OK but flying alongside 4 wrap standard vented it was clear that conditions were marginal. Last year at Washington/Sunderland and Margate we experienced summertime conditions where the only viable kites were the ones that we were flying. The SLKs could not cope with English summer weather...
I do not feel comfortable when equipment and fliers are being tested to their limits and so was glad today that we did not prolong the exercise and wrapped shortly after midday. The carefully measured and pre-stretched line sets that David recently prepared should be reserved for more ideal conditions.
It was Lee Sedgwick who suggested that we tighten the bungees back in c1990. 'More brakes' was a consensus which arrived very early on. Hovering horizontally with the leading edge up should never be easy... <grins>
Today on Blackheath the breeze was variable in that confounding inland summer way. Vented 4 wrap one minute, full sail race the next. (Not as bad, though, as Sunderland/Washington last summer where the extremes were unbelievable)
I had a lucky break today just when it really didn't matter. The top pigtail broke at the kite side of the 'clipless' handle. The other handle's pigtail did not show any obvious sign of stress but I replaced it as well anyway. I think that I will tie some sleeved kevlar with shorter steps soon...
After the relative calm of Berck and Cervia it was a blustery day on Blackheath to the extent that the Revolution Mega Vent had an airing with the 4 wrap frame.
Earlier the standard JB vented 1.5 4 wrap frame had proved to be a bit of an arm aching handful in 'arm straight down' mode.
Steve from Chicago found his way to Blackheath from his Hotel on Hackney Road. We looked at the configuration of his JB Vented 1.5 with 3 wrap frame and suggested some adjustments. The 4 wrap frame would probably have assisted in making the kite more manageable but obviously when travelling it may not always be possible to cover all the bases.
I hope to have an update on Portsmouth in the next few days...
A great week in Cervia following on from Berck. Two weeks of intensive kite flying has been a great start to the year.
Mostly light breezes in Cervia, apart from the first evening we were there, the vented kites were not used. The Zens helped us keep kites in the air, particularly on the final day!
The team first visited Cervia in 1997 following up in 1999, 2000 and 2010. It is a great event with a specific focus on the 'creative' side of kiting.
A great week in Berck with mostly light breezes except for the final day, Monday 25th April, when the vented kites came out of the bag for the first time at c9:00am and we stayed with them until leaving the field finally at about 3:30pm. (OK there was a short break for lunch <grins>)
I just checked, in so far as I can, and it looks like the team have attended the festival 16 times since 1990. I do not know why we missed the other years!
Off to Cervia in the morning so will probably be off-line for most of the week...
The London Marathon takes over our usual pitch at Blackheath so a few of us met at the cricket field area at the eastern end of Victoria Park just the other side of the Motorway from the 2012 Olympic Stadium.
At the start there was hardly any perceptible breeze so it was Zens with Race and a Rev1 with Zen spars. Most of the time any wind movement was shifting continuously so the simple objective was to keep the kite in the air in order to avoid being at the wrong end of a 180 degree shift. The higher the kite is the easier it is to adapt to direction changes but at the top of the window, vertical, occasionally today, there is always the danger of falling off. Catch and throw does not, however, work in very light breezes on 120ft lines...
Walking forwards in minimal air movement can be interesting in that the Zen seems to be good at gliding and with full reverse on the handles it is possible to move a very long way 'downwind' in a very low wind.
In the last three weeks spring has really arrived as in the attached image from Victoria Park today.
A quiet day on Blackheath in terms of the number of fliers and an easterly breeze that was a little above that was forecast earlier in the week. There was an opportunity for me to check lines and casually compare kites and spars. Today the full sail 1.5 JB Pro with green race rod against the mid vented version with standard race rods. Too many variables, I know, especially when longer handles were in the equation as well, but sometimes it is best not to be too serious.
Some journeys take on an iconic status and Calais to Berck is one such especially since the opening of the Peage A16/E402 with its sweeping viaducts over the chalk valleys just beyond Boulogne-sur-Mer. Too bad that the outward journey will be after nightfall this year.
It will be great to visit L'Albatros in Berck again and this year some of the team, at least, will be staying in the centre of town... just over a week away!
Arrangements for the trip to Cervia the following week are almost complete and we should expect a proper taste of summer weather on the Adriatic Sea as opposed to the teasing conditions in the UK over the last few days.
After a late start last weekend due to the start of summertime we did better today and were rewarded with mild and sunny conditions with plenty of evidence of the greening of the trees in Greenwich Park.
Standard 1.5 Sails with race rods, to start with (four fliers), and, for us (The Decs that is), the almost complete novelty of flying to music when not 'at a formal festival'. OK, it was only from a mobile phone in my pocket but it seemed fairly radical at the time.
As conditions were on the light side, breeze wise, we checked out the Team Rev1 (red and green sails, Italian set) Kites and found that one notch on the brakes basically gave us a viable setting as compared to the 1.5 sails. The turning interval is an issue as well as flier familiarity but we were happy with the run-through of one of the team's 'choreographed' routines.
Some ladder up/down sequences helped re-establish familiarity with the turning interval issues.
Only 'so-many' 'get-ups' before the Berck/Cervia events...
Summertime started today so it was an 11:00am start on Blackheath with the first green tinge evident on some of the trees beyond the wall of Greenwich Park.
High hazy cloud gave a 'summery' look to the scene but the easterly wind was not exactly warm. It was race rods and full 1.5 sails again. Some consideration in flying planning was given to the line-up of the team for the first three days of Berck which will not be one we have flown before. All being well we will have four fliers for Tuesday to Thursday and eight for Friday to Monday. Some of us will be going on to Cervia so it will be a continuous two weeks of 'flying'. What a treat? <grins>
10:00am start and the first Spring weather fly with a light south westerly breeze and some warming high cloud broken sunshine.
1.5 full sails with race rods were only occasionally stressed or left without direction. The fliers were taking the lazy option as no one could be bothered to call so mostly random flying followed by some silent following. Some interesting close proximity moves may inspire 'designed' moves eventually but on the day it was great to simply share the sky.
Four weeks now until the Berck/Cervia marathon so 'relaxed' flying is completely appropriate for the time being!
Murky grey start c10:30am gradually resolved into a short spell of rain followed by a lifting cloud base and a moment of spring sunshine.
A smooth light breeze so full sails with race rods, plenty of random flying before we fell in to a couple of runs through 'Plan A' the first of which was attempted without familiar team order. That is always a challenge.
Home to replace failing rear derailleur cable on the bicycle; a simple procedure in the light of things. (Noticing that it was failing is the key thing! <grins>)
Only an occasional glimmer of sunshine through chilly North Sea blown anticyclonic cloud cover today. The sunlit patches scudded across the heath without so much as a warming pause. The current forecast for next weekend is heavy snow...
Anyway, another chance today to explore the sparing options for the 1.5 vented Pro. The Green Race Rods seemed to 'spring back' more quickly after being subject to stress/gusts. I am reminded of the bamboo fighter kite once again where recovery before the next attacking/forward move is key to the success in flying control, if not actual combat. Cutting lines is, of course an expression of mismatched capability <grins>
A low turnout today despite the promise of early morning sunshine. The sunshine proved to be unreliable with a band of high level cloud drifting to the east but regenerating on the upwind edge. Just when you expect the clear blue sky to arrive another band of cloud appears limiting the effective warmth of the sun.
Standard vented with race rods fitted the variable wind speeds today. Light wind inputs appear to work very well with this configuration and the long arm moves help in keeping warm.
In contrast to the last two windy weekends today was a light wind day with intermittent fine drizzle. Saturated lines tend to magically bind together, locking tight, even without wraps so there were some interesting fire drills today on the muddy field.
The seven fliers alternated between flying six and seven and re-visited some of the themes developed over the last couple of years as a very informal 'rehearsal' for the 2011 events. Berck and Cervia are 'set up' and we hope to get further news of the UK events before long.
The forecast was for rain all day but happily it held off between 10am and 1pm. The wind was stronger than expected so once again we had the opportunity to fly the Xtra Vent 1.5s today.
I have speculated that given the right balance, low wind techniques could be applied to higher wind conditions and that 'long arm' methods could be beneficial in all situations. Today, flying on the 120ft lines but with the extended handles I found a sweet point where, as with light wind flying, I was not 'gripping' the handles, so avoiding that form of fatigue, and was using the full pull to initiate turns and faster forward flight from a relatively 'slow-mo forward travel' base point. I'm thinking that it would be good to set the leader knot spacing at 1/4in or 1cm in order to fine tune the forward travel base point.
The Xtra Vent 1.5s are excellent. <grins>
So the parcel arrived on Friday 4th February and the forecast for today was for 'up to' 25mph.
The Rev 1.5 Xtra Vent certainly felt rugged and very well constructed (what do I know? <grins>) straight out of the bag. Having the chance to try it out 'for real' today was a very timely treat. The usual 90lb 120ft lines with 4 wrap spars felt comfortable in the gusts that were probably more like 30mph. The standard 1.5 vented kites flying alongside were definitely over stressed. In the blustery conditions the Xtra Vent was rarely at a disadvantage in the lulls and flier input could make up the difference most of the time.
A great piece of kit, in my view, based on immediate impressions today! Thanks...