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...
Another cold day with a variable NE breeze that just about justified the use of the mid vent 1.5s. Sometimes too light, at other times too strong. I was on 'long handles' so the light was easier to cope with than the strong.
The 'not called' free flying is becoming more 'elegant' as the capabilities of the fliers increases. This will be a source of increasingly complex team moves but for now we looked at the possibility of rolling kites 1 and 3 back over 2 and 4 while continuing the overall line of flight. We also tried some of the options starting from the zig-zag line. I hope that we will be able to achieve a threaded infinity soon...
I hope to figure out how to take the 100 (or 108?) kite possibility forwards in the next few days given that Berck 2011 'Project 100' is now cancelled.
A grey day on the Heath but the low anticyclonic cloud did not deliver actual precipitation, just a damp chill in the Northerly breeze.
4 standard JB 1.5s and 1 ex iQuad UL SLE, all with Race Rods flew spoked ladders and rotations and 'all kites benefit' (The Bigot) in the horizontal plane. We also worked on the leading ladder up/down vertically and then horizontally and noted the immediate transition to threads. This was following on from the sequential launch for the Super Sixteen as established at Dunstable. (Video from Dunstable has not surfaced yet)
I'm hoping that it will be possible to put together some 'routine' proposals for the Super Sixteen ahead of the Berck event and would welcome suggestions.
Driving to Blackheath today was uncomfortable due to the onset of a 'mild migrane'.
On the heath the symptoms subsided and four fliers ended up flying silent following ladders up/down and spoked rotations.
We also looked at the possibility of 'reversing' or 'inverting' a sequence of moves to very good effect.
The wind got progressively blustery and rather that persisting with heavier spars we retired gracefully.
A cloudless day on Blackheath today.
Jacob led six fliers through parallel Leader's Benefits/Felix and threaded 180 linear moves. We looked at some developments to the 'Ladder Up' start move which leads directly into the threaded column moves. Starting from the centre seemed to be quite effective. I must remember to follow through to the equivalent landing sequence.
A westerly breeze was good for full 1.5 sails with 4 wrap spars. It has been a few weeks since conditions had been so bright and breezy.
Event planning for 2011 is now 'in hand'.
Arriving slightly ahead of schedule we had to wait a few minutes before the Cafe opened at 10:00am for 'breakfast' for some and a quick 'expresso' for others.
Out on the field there was one thing missing, as in, the 6-8mph breeze that had been forecast. However, in the circumstances a valiant effort was made by everyone and we did get to fly 16 in some of the moves that had been suggested, most notably the square to diamond rotation and the following diamond threads. We also established the laddered launch and landing sequence. At launch this led directly into the regular 16 grid threads providing a smooth introduction to a potential routine.
Thanks very much to everyone who took part.
I wonder if it would be possible to schedule a follow-up meeting sometime before Berck. I'm intent on doing the full week at Berck so would be interested to know if we could put together 16 fliers for the first part of the week?
On the Blackwall Tunnel approach the flags were static, as if frozen.
There was a slight air movement on the heath, even at 'c1 degrees Celcius below' hard to discern but at least it was mostly consistent. Although the bright sun did have a warming effect prior to high cloud filtering the effect there was little or no rising thermal circulation.
I guessed that the air movement was between 1 and 2 miles per hour... Who knows? Anyway the Zens with Race frames and 3 wrap centre worked fine and a Rev 1 with Zen spars seemed to cope as well.
We flew some silent leading, as in 'no calls' just fly and pick up the intention to slow into 'Mercedes turns' or simultaneous 'ladder ups'. (There was a bit of treacle flying as well.)
The transition into the 'block' equivalent is potentially very interesting.
Arrived soon after 10:00am to find Martin already beginning to feel the chill. It may only have been 1 degree below freezing but it was a lazy wind.
Full sail 1.5s with Race rods were just about at their limit but we flew some neat 'wrong order' following moves after extensive 'free for all' flying.
For the uninitiated 'wrong order' is when the fliers and the kites are not in the same order. 'Free for all' is when the kites are flown independently with the intention to interact spontaneously. Peripheral vision is helpful here!
Seasonal greetings from Blackheath, as in the attached image.
Managed a 'soon after 10:00am arrival' to find Martin flying his Zen. Set up in line but as the sun came out there was a distinct change in the wind speed so we switched to full 1.5 with Race Rods for some!
We flew four and looked at the ways that a four block could be formed and the possibilities that follow from a 'different' order of fliers that we might have arrived at habitually. My suspicion is that a fundamental switching of focus to 'mirrored pairs' rather than 'a following line' will make all the difference. It may be a case of 'think grid'. <grins>
In the somewhat variable light wind we did fly some quite demanding slow speed rolls and ladders. There was definitely a touch of 'slo-mo' on occasions. Always great to see in my book.
Flying directly into the sun was a bit of a chore today but the sun shining on the spectra made it shine like spiders web. Quite an astonishing sight!