So it is now three weeks to WSIKF.
I flew Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Winds were light enough on Sunday to get the Zen out. I tried the 'very long' handles initially but the kite felt 'too heavy'. Switched to the 13 inch clip-less and found the sweet spot without delay. Flying with 3 wrap centre and Race rods the kite was 'spring bound' but incredibly buoyant in the sub 4mph breeze.
The step up in sail area from the Rev 1 to the Zen is still surprisingly significant to me.
A quiet fly on Blackheath today.
With just four weeks to until the WSIKF event I was contemplating the static drift we used to enjoy when flying the Paul Morgan Mega Deltas. I recall seeing six or more kites at the top of their wind window drifting in unison if not spiralling on thermals.
At Portsmouth 2008 I remember watching the ripple of gusts moving across the wall of Revolution kites. I look forward to seeing the kites at Long Beach respond and hope that the fliers can 'go with the flow' and re-position accordingly.
The idea that the fliers could respond 'in unison' is one of the special aspects of the Revolution Mega Team.
Jørgen Møeller Hansen joined us on Blackheath today and we were able to fly the vented 1.5 sails that he had designed for us last year. It was the first time he had seen these sails in action and having been anxious about the graphic he was very pleased with the results.
We were four fliers today and flew 3 wrap frames in a relaxed slo-mo pace (verging on treacle at times). The sails, sewn by Bazzer are a slight variation on the JB design and have a silky feel in the c7-10 mph winds we had today. It was a great contrast today, to last Sunday's blustery conditions, where the same sails with the 4 wrap frame were tested, we found out today, to near destruction. One of the sails was damaged, a 3 inch rip and 3 smaller rips and abrasion in close proximity.
Must remember to ensure that the team check the sails as well as the ferrules every time the kite is set up and broken down. Unfortunately, team kit is treated with less 'respect' than personal possessions.
The Northern Area Playing Fields at Washington proved to be a testing venue this weekend. Light breezes on Saturday prevented a grid demo going ahead on Saturday despite sterling efforts from the potential participants earlier in the day.
Sunday provided some really difficult conditions with wind speed variations occurring very quickly. We ended up flying the vented 1.5s to their practical limits high wind wise yet within seconds, literally, the wind speed dropped to the point that they were not viable.
Thanks to all the fliers who participated in a 5 x 3 grid (edit 5 columns, 3 rows) called by Jacob (not flying) at the end of the afternoon.
Since last weekend the weather in London has been transformed into 'full on' summer mode. Today on Blackheath there was an intermittent light breeze up to c5mph providing the opportunity to fly the Zen again.
With switches in direction I am sure that I did fly from all 360 degrees between 10:30 and 12:30. The strongest air was moving vertically so it was important to be prepared to catch a lift when it was available.
I did set up a 1.5 with Race Frame alongside the Zen with long clipped handles. Watching the 120ft lines take on a spiral line to the kite indicated the need for a very light touch. In these circumstances crossing lines with other fliers would likely cause confusion as there is so little feedback 'down the lines'. I'm thinking that the only way forward for team flying is to insist that, in light winds, the Rev fliers do go ahead and try to fly together just in order to gain experience of how to deal with the issues. It will often 'not work' but 'so what'?<grins>
As expected it was quiet on Blackheath today after the excitement of the Kite and Bike festival last weekend. A cool northerly breeze and thick grey clouds did little to lift the atmosphere.
Thoughts turned to forthcoming events at Washington Tyne and Wear and Washington State International Kite Festival. Mount Rainier (or Mount Tahoma) may not have the cultural significance of Fuji in Japan but I am looking forward to catching a glimpse of the mountain on the approach to SEATAC.
I was very lucky, back in the 90's, to attend the Autumn Japan Kite Association event at Fuji City and fly all day in clear view of the volcano. More recently, a fleeting glimpse from the Shinkansen (bullet train) was not quite the same.
Washington UK promises a c16 person mega team which I hope will develop the theme set by the Ainsdale and Penshaw events held during the winter months.
I arrived on Saturday mid-afternoon, after work, to find the team comfortably established on the heath in the north easterly breeze. I watched the six person team going through their paces with confidence led by Mark and David.
On Sunday we were eight and again Mark and David took advantage of the favourable, though occasionally blustery breeze, first on the Rev 1s, later the 1.5s to work through the recently developed repertoire.
Towards the end of the afternoon a sixteen person mega team with The Decs, The Flying Squad, Maggie and Chris led by David Ellison showed off some dynamic flying to the appreciative Blackheath audience.
As Blackheath is The Decs 'home ground' we were invited to take the final arena spot.
It will feel very empty on Blackheath next weekend...
A late entry as I have been mesmerised by Alex's video of the Decs at Berck. (The routines tend to be unique, we will never fly it again...)
A light rising breeze today allowed some experimentation with spars in the Zen sail.
Later, race rods in the JMH vented sail proved the range for that kite.
Some time ago we asked Jørgen Møeller Hansen to produce a graphic for a 1.5 vented kite based on the B Pro sail panel layout. He duly came up with a design which we eventually, (when we were able to afford funding), forwarded to Revolution asking Bazzer to sew the sails. What we had not expected was that Bazzer would follow Jørgen's drawing exactly and so produce a variant of the vented sail with astonishing attention to the detail of Jørgen's design.
We have now used these kites in earnest at Berck and Cervia festivals and they have proved to be an excellent investment from a practical point of view as well as being visually stunning.
I would never claim to be able to identify incremental differences in sail configuration as the adaptive tendency is so strong but today I did try to compare the JMH sail to a Bazzer B Pro (not LE version). It was probably blowing c15 mph on Blackheath. The JMH sail seemed to absorb wind speed variations even more than than the B Pro did. The downside to this may be that more effort would be needed to articulate speed changes but in bumpy conditions the apparent further flattening of response is helpful. There did not appear to be any loss of wind window.
As noted else where I am specifically interested in the collective capability (100 grid) rather than individual performance especially when the increments are so subjective. I will not dwell on the comparison <grins>
It was strictly light wind flying today. A Zen day indeed. In Cervia we had seen the 'clear advantage' that the Zen had over the Rev1 in light conditions. Today we found an apparent discrepancy in the angle of attack when putting a Zen and a Rev1 face to face. I'm thinking that the difference in the bridle may be the cause of this. The kites did not 'lock' together in the usual way <grins>
At Portsmouth in 2009 we flew a 16 person grid using the JMH 1.5 and 1 kites together. I do not think that face to face pairings of the different kites featured but it would be interesting to try this at the next opportunity, maybe at the Blackheath event in June. I am sure that we have stacked the different sized kites before...
Approaching Bury-St-Edmunds from the west close to 9:00am today, Sunday, we could see a 'Kite Shaped Object' in the air over Rougham airfield. We had been instructed to head for the main car park and to set up alongside the main runway in a 'Rev Designated Area'. This we duly did and soon a group of 10-12 fliers were flying in a relaxed and good humoured way. There was some talk about leader lines and stacking kites in the air. Compatible line lengths are helpful in team flying <grins>
At one point I was put on the end of the line of fliers and asked to call. This is not something that I usually do and having had a bad cough/cold during the week it was a struggle to make myself heard. We did, however, manage to set up a grid of nine kites flying upward/downward wing tip turns which looked very neat. This was somthing I had wanted to see 'in team' and also 'in the grid'.
I hope that plans for a Rev Gathering at Rougham later in the year do go ahead and I will certainly make every effort to attend.
It was very strange flying on grass today after 15 days of flying on sand. It was an unseasonably cold and grey day on Blackheath.
On reflection, the idea of flying kites for 15 days and still finding interest and creative possibilities on the final day, in this case, in Cervia, is fascinating in its own right.
The 3 or 4 kite days in Italy were magical. No wind at 10 am so set up the Zens, almost imperceptible increase to the point that the Rev1 is viable by about 10:30 am. By 12:00 it is time to switch to the Rev1.5 or go to lunch... The early afternoon is plain sailing but by about 3:30 pm it is time for the vented Rev1.5 kites.
Today, the 'plan A' from Berck was dusted down in anticipation of Rougham! It will be a low key event after the last 3 weeks.
A great week in Cervia, Italy. We coped with the c125 ft wide arena and light winds earlier in the week and enjoyed 3 kite days towards the end of the event. Rev 1 to start, moving to Rev 1.5 in the middle of the day and ending on the 1.5 vented as the onshore breezes built...
It was amazing to meet with people who remembered our visits to Cervia of 10 years ago and more.
I hope that we will be able to attend the 2011 event.
A great week in Berck, France. Heavy winds earlier in the week finally gave way to the chance to fly the Zen in near zero mph this morning. The 'turning interval' is different and I will be interested to do some more flying on a 'more comfortable' surface than soft sand.
The Team was led by David Ellison for the first days of the event and he put together a new routine which was well received.
Jacob led the arena work for the 8 person team for the last 3 days in The Decs traditional mode.
The JMH vented kites performed very well indeed...
This was the last Blackheath fly for a while. The next two weekends will be in Berck and the two after in Cervia. Getting to Blackheath from home is very easy in the car. A quick drive past the Olympic Park, through the Blackwell tunnel, turn right at the top of the hill and that is it! (15 mins max) A bit more travelling for Berck and Cervia <grins>
A parallel side slide 360 around the last kite was today's special moment. We actually set the pendulum going as well and as this was almost entirely spontaneous it says a lot about the practical capabilities of the fliers. Well done... you know who you are!
We arrived mid afternoon on Saturday to kick off our pre-season warm-up for the 'complete' team. Rev1s were the order of the day until the breeze dropped off almost completely ahead of a squally downpour. There was time to fly David's Zen before the storm broke. We then retired to 'The Tolly' on Royal Hill.
Most of us coped with the clock change overnight reasonably well and we were on site Sunday at c10:00am for a 5 hour session blowing out the cobwebs and getting the winter absentees up to speed. Today, with standard 1.5s, forward and reverse parallel wing tip 180 turns were a focus as was the gradually developing 'burst [compound leaders benefit] Felix'. The contrast between very simple moves and compound routines is instructive.
Confidence in flying in very close proximity to other kites/fliers is crucial. It is important to get fliers to realise that if things go wrong it is no big deal. Getting out of trouble in the most elegant and friendly fashion is of the essence here. Sometimes, in trying out new moves, any of the fliers must have the confidence to call the stop, especially if they find that they are wrapping lines at right angles. There are some places one just does not want to go <grins>
'Fire drills' should be part of our repertoire!
Arrived just before 10:00 am to see Jade and Martin with Rev1s set up but zero wind speed.
Just for fun, I set up the Rev2s Race Rods on 80ft x 100lb and 15 inch handles. (On reflection now I can see that additional flex in the spars may be advantageous. I had got used to compensating for the lack of flex in the speed series kites. The tracking advantage may be significant as with the fragile bamboo components of a fighter kite.)
The Rev2s will work in almost zero wind speed but light weight snag free handles would help translate the minimal feel/feedback. I will have to check if we have some SUL Rev 2 frames.
Switched to the Rev1s on the 80ft lines but this felt very confined in contrast to the Rev2s. The Ex iQuad SUL framed 1.5s proved to be a happy compromise and Martin, Ashley and I carved some slo-mo following and parallel ladders up and down in the slight breeze that developed towards 1:00 pm (circa 1-3mph).
Decs Team meet on Blackheath next weekend. I hope that the current weather forecast hold good.
There was sunshine on Blackheath today. The temperature may have reached double digits (Celcius) for the first time this year!
The custom Rev2 Race Framed on the 80ft lines and long handles (15in) was once again set up alongside the vented Rev1.5 JB Pro custom 4 wrap on 120ft lines (13in handles) in a brisk NW airflow (which meant we were flying directly into the sun).
The delicacy of touch required for the Rev2 is in considerable contrast to the expansive moves that are required for the Rev1.5. I had not realised quite how 'long' the arm moves need to be for the larger sail especially if the breeze drops towards the lower end of the wind range of the kite. Stepping up to the Rev1 may demand an even longer span which may be beyond normal reach...
We noticed that when flying an inverted hover 'arms straight down, handles horizontal' may be the most comfortable and effective position. I suspect that mobility of the hands while flying is crucial in many ways and I am sure that a rigid grip is completely counter productive as it quickly leads to muscle fatigue. Finding how to keep a light grip in higher wind speed seems to be the key. <grins>
A complete contrast weather wise today after last Sunday with clear skies, bright sun, but a steady, (most of the time) cold easterly breeze.
Put out the pair of Rev2s Race Framed on the 80ft lines and long handles, not least to dry them out. (?) It was interesting to fly out to the edge of the wind window and 'throw' the kite through 'precise' turns. Long arms and plenty of movement on the ground were 'all' that was required. Slo-mo turns worked 'in the mind' rather than by virtue of physical input. 'Zen' or what?
The transition back to the Vented JB 1.5 Pro was curious as noted last week. Suddenly every movement needed to be amplified by a significant factor. Maybe, therein, lies the advantage of switching between kites...
A very wet morning but lower wind speed than forecast provided an opportunity to set up lines and handles for the 2 new Rev2 kites that arrived last Monday morning.
For reasons I will not go into here we are using the 15 inch handles. The top leader extensions I had to make measured 11 inches to the used knot.
The kites felt fantastically light and extremely responsive and worked very well with long arm slo-mo input.
Switching back to the vented 1.5s afterwards was quite curious.
The rain finally eased as we left the Heath having tested the wet weather gear to the point of failure...
(EDIT Thanks to Maggie for the photos)
David Ellison was up from Devon this morning so we planned a 10:00am start. At 9:45am driving towards the Blackwall Tunnel the rain was getting heavier and the skies lowering.
Happily the forecast for early rain with brighter conditions following was completely correct. By 10:05am the downpour had eased and the sky was brightening from the south.
Six fliers convened to run through some basics as well as the 'Burst Felix and Brenda' combo. The there was also an 'e*** axis' thing. My head is still spinning.
Conversation turned to the question of how many experienced 'grid capable' fliers there may now be in the UK? <grins>
It was strange to fly in close proximity this weekend to the monument which dominates the area close to the Washington Kite Festival event which I first attended individually in about 1987.
The local road system presents the monument from many directions and so it can be confusing as an outsider to know one's actual position within the local geography.
Two days of gentle weather is sufficient to develop the BDGs mentioned elsewhere.
I hope that more fliers will take on the mantle of light wind flying.
A low grey cloud backdrop lifted soon after I left the field today.
Team fliers were not out in numbers today so I was able to concentrate on the turning interval etc. of the 1.5B/Bazzer sail with Race Frame on extended handles. I have alluded previously to the throw, spin and catch aspect of flying this kite and the similarity in this to a diamond fighter kite. I am still working on the 'long arm' moves, occasionally finding 'body blocked' moments where the full sweep of the arms needs some concentration. The breeze was light today and so the challenge of 'slow' (treacle) flying was very much in evidence. The pro-active stance on the ground seems essential... <grins>
All set for the trip North next weekend. I am looking forward to 'the gathering'.
A bright sunny day with a westerly breeze, frosty underfoot.
Today we flew Rev1s with 3.4.3/3.3 UL spars sometimes at the top end of the comfort window. I wanted to push the extended handle issue and found that in the slightly stronger breeze than last weekend 'too much forward' is very difficult to cope with. If the breeze gets up the kite becomes 'very difficult to control' and feels like it will go off at a tangent if the pilot slips slightly. This is exactly what we see in practice, time after time, so suggests that we should aim for the 'sweet point'.
Flying 1/8th turns with wing tips on the ground requires a specific amount of 'forward' in the line settings. It is not possible to compensate by moving on the ground...
Looking forward to the NE event.
Following on from last weekend but in lighter conditions (2-4 mph) we flew parallel moves, 5 fliers on Rev1 3/4/3-3/3 90lb 120ft and just for fun had Jacob calling from the middle of the team for a while. He was not entirely happy about this which is understandable as callers do like to have an exit strategy rather than being 'locked in'.
Parallel 'nailed' wing tip 90s, 180s and 360s looked sublime once everyone had 'clocked' the turning interval.
I had set up on long throw handles and as the calling receded behind me it became apparent how much easier it is to hold ground in light breezes with these handles.
The Canada geese had been on the field but fortunately not in great numbers.
Looking forward to the NE Event.