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About this blog

My personal observations

Entries in this blog

Felix

19/07/2015 Blackheath

The overnight front that had shown thickening high cloud on Saturday evening was still just evident retreating to the SE as we arrived on Blackheath. We had a period of mostly clear sky before the cumulus set in but there were some curious lenticular clouds to the NE in the meantime.

The westerly breeze was variable, mostly towards 20mph but often dropping to 10mph or less so we were flying Xtra vents with race rods mostly.

Not really conditions suitable for team flying so we made no effort in that direction. We’ll be at Portsmouth and then Bristol during August so plenty of team flying coming up soon.

Felix

Felix

12/07/2015 Blackheath

Morning rain interrupted our routine last week and threatened the same today. It did, apart from a few spots, hold off and so it was 1.5 vented sails with green race which were just occasionally a little over powered under a grey sky.

The heath was looking very brown apart from the plaintain plants but we avoided any significant snags during an informal flying session.

In the scheme of things the breeze which was around 15-17mph was just a bit too strong for the sail/spar configuration, we might have gone to four wrap but somehow that did not happen. I note that a few weeks ago we had opted for the Xtra vents in a very slightly higher wind speed. The incremental steps are the interesting ones…

Felix

Felix

28/06/2015 Blackheath

Driving towards Blackheath from Hackney it was apparent that the early morning sunshine was being overtaken by dense high cloud approaching from the north west.

The WSW breeze was fairly consistent under the scenic grey sky with only the occasional slow developing lulls. Standard vented 1.5 sails with race rods were just right with very slow ‘pulls’ taking the kite to its maximum forward speed. This may actually be my personal definition of ideal ‘kite/wind speed’ match.

Eventually the forecast rain did arrive, chilly drops from the high altitude source, so we wrapped early. Next week Blackheath has a ‘Pink Ribbon’ running event so we may just take a break and go to http://www.sydenhamarts.co.uk/event/festival-in-the-forest/ instead.

Felix

Felix

21/06/2015 Blackheath

A late start for me today, I arrived on the heath at about 11:30 am.

The breeze was basically from the west and some of the time it was about 17mph. Xtra Vents were the kite of choice and by default 4 wrap spars. It soon became evident that these were too heavy during the persistent lulls so we switched to Race Rods. Temperatures were sometimes summerlike but the thick broken cloud kept everything variable, including the wind direction in a typical summer Blackheath manner.

The swifts were performing low down today sometimes circling our position with dizzying speed, other times high aloft in their more familiar location.

Felix

Felix

14/06/2015 Blackheath

While other sites might have been in the low clouds today the drizzle mostly held off on Blackheath but the temperature was not summer like. The mown grass reflected a normal season, as in somewhat brown, but the low grey clouds suggested an entirely different time of year!

The northerly breeze mostly held up the 1.5 vented sails with green race and was good for ‘low wind’ flying in that respect.

Last year we travelled north in mid August and the conditions were Xtra vent windy. We may plan another such trip this year but maybe a couple of weekends earlier as the Portsmouth and Bristol events have shifted to earlier dates. Watch this space!

Felix

Felix

Etienne and Veronique Veyres put a small bamboo and paper kite into the Cervia auction which I bought. Pauline and Frances very kindly agreed to transport it back to the UK and Basingstoke was the earliest venue where we could meet so today we didn’t fly on Blackheath but arrived at the Basingstoke event just before midday.

There was a light variable breeze and as there was no designated space apart from the demonstration arena we limited our flying efforts to a short session with CR sails with race spars. I immediately recognized the need for longer handles, if not longer lines, there was not ‘enough’ reverse for ‘gliding downwind’. We were flying our standard 120ft lines with the usual handles for 1.5 sails.

The next two weekends are short ones for me, Saturday working, but I am sure that we will get to Blackheath as usual…

Felix

Felix

Driving west out of London on a sunny late May evening can be a bit dazzling. Turning left at Bristol was a relief!

The slightly re-modelled Exmouth site was the venue for a complete presentation of the team kit, from 1.5 diamond framed to xtra vents with 4 wrap spars.

Along the way we did fly the JMH vented kites with diamond frames which were really OK at about 17mph but we lost a vertical at about 24mph. <grins>

We were mostly six fliers. The northern contingent had to catch a train soon after 3:00pm on Sunday so the final presentation was four fliers with the xtra vents. It was a neat conclusion to an instructive weekend’s flying…

Felix

Felix

A lighter westerly breeze today and given a level of variability it was difficult to choose the most appropriate sail. Mid vent was about right and race rods made sense but full sail and full vented were also in the mix.

Rowan was back on the line today after the conclusion of the university examination season. We did a couple of runs through Plan B – A as a five person team.

Next weekend is Exmouth so logistics were part of the discussion today as well as shuffled line sets.

Felix

Felix

Another somewhat blustery WSW airstream today and although it was mostly sunny there was a chill to the air which felt a bit unusual for the middle of May.

Vented 1.5s with green race today. The closest that I got to re-visiting the longer lines was to locate them in the kite bags. We were still shuffling old line sets after the Cervia event and it was good to find another set of ‘close knotted’ leaders that I had forgotten about. Although it is fairly trivial to prepare a set I have not got a ‘tying jig’ set up so every pair is ‘unique’.

We had some discussion today about the ‘fast forward’ set-up of the kites as configured by Revolution. I am always bemused by the need to add brake for high wind and also for low wind conditions ;-) I must get some more time with the longer handles on the Rev 1 just to square the circle…

Felix

Felix

The Hackney ½ Marathon meant that there was only one route out this morning which happens to coincide with the way to Blackheath, more or less.

A bright morning with a southerly breeze that was mostly just enough for 1.5 vented kites with race rods. A brief team demo for an ‘interested’ passer by was all the formal flying that we did today.

Re-organising line sets, handles and de-sanding kites was a priority as we get set for the UK based events during the summer. Exmouth is next followed by Portsmouth and Bristol.

Having put some time in on the 100ft lines at Cervia it may be interesting to re-visit the 150ft lines with the Zens in the next couple of weekends, paired of course, with the ‘even longer handles’. <grins>

Felix

Felix

I travelled to Cervia on Wednesday 29th April arriving in time for some late afternoon flying. Four full days followed with varying conditions, the highlight day being Saturday 2nd May when the onshore breeze started early and firmed up sufficiently for a very well received arena performance towards the end of the afternoon.

Along the way we entertained the local audience and ourselves at the north end of the festival site.

The invited fliers from ‘up north’ contributed to this event as well as an Italian ‘ringer’ and there were plenty of other fliers who were keen to join the line. Team 4 Fun were also in attendance and so a 16 flier grid was flown on Thursday 30th April.

A great event all in all and we hope to be back next year with a full team line-up, the same for Berck…

Felix

Felix

Blackheath was unavailable today because of the London Marathon so we met at the north end of the park just to the west end of the cycle circuit. There is a small area of ‘lawn grass’ rather than the plantain infested area that we had used previously and as line preparation was on the agenda this was the better site.

It just happened that the NE breeze meant that the limited space between the rows of saplings was just viable.

I ran out a new set of lines and topped them with a new set of leaders with ¼ inch steps.

I am looking forward to joining the rest of the team in Cervia on Wednesday afternoon. We will be eight fliers for the final weekend of the event which we have not managed for a number of years now. After last weekend in Berck this will be a very good start to the year!

Felix

Felix

We had a slightly scrambled departure from London on Friday 17th but convened at ‘Mister Bed’ in Rang de Fliers for a late evening ‘picnic’.

We were on the beach well ahead of ‘opening time’ at the tent on Saturday 18th but did take a break to register and pick up the ‘tickets’…

The first two days we were concentrating on the eight person team with two ‘ringers’ from up north. They fitted in really well and we had some great flying in the slightly tricky ‘off the town’ breezes.

We had a reduced line-up for the last two days but were focused on re-configuring a four person routine into a five person variation which eventually resolved really well even if we did not manage to fly it in a final arena presentation due to a dramatic wind shift.

We also took time in the last two days to work with the ‘Berck Mega Team process’ and although conditions did not allow any spectacular arena presentations it is evident that the fliers are capable, in the main, of adapting to fairly extreme demands in terms of position and orientation provided there is a clear structural objective!

Four days of sunny Berck <grins>

Felix

Felix

12/04/2015 Blackheath

By contrast to last weekend it was a strong south westerly airstream today, mostly 18-20 mph with occasional lulls. Xtra vents with four wrap just occasionally felt a bit heavy but a little bit of ground work and some long arm transitions kept the kite in place for me. Once again, the avoidance of obstruction to free movement was apparent…

Mostly free flying today with a few ‘not so neat’ encounters. All down to the temperament of the flier on the day!

We are off to Berck next weekend and then the lucky ‘forward group’ get to travel to Italy on Thursday 23rd for the Cervia event. We will eventually be an eight person team for the final Cervia weekend, all being well.

Felix

Felix

05/04/2015 Blackheath

Light easterly breeze, occasionally fading to nothing, so 1.5 sails and diamond rods were appropriate today.

As checking kites was on the agenda today we used the downtime productively. Most of the 2008 JMH sails need a bit of sewing attention at the leading edge fold line but nothing too dramatic. We reshuffled spars as well and find that we have just what we need in the diamond and green race options for the team kites!

As the Easter Circus had occupied the northern part of our usual flying area we had set up on the opposite side of the road to the east which is lower than the road and changes the sound of the traffic which is never far away on Blackheath.

The light wind meant that for me it was finger tips on the handles, no grip, and very long arms with a mental note about avoiding any obstruction to free movement. <grins>

Felix

Felix

29/03/2015

Heavy rain this morning with 24/48 mph was not conducive to flying so we’ll have to make up next weekend with a possible extra day for checking kites ahead of the Berck, Cervia and Exmouth events.

The last two days when Sunday flying was not sensible were in November so it has been a ‘good’ winter by all accounts!

Felix

Felix

03/2015 Blackheath

It was a sunny start to the day but the cloud had very few breaks from c11:00am on the heath.

The NE breeze was consistently variable settling for minutes on end at anything from 7 to 15 mph. Given that the temperature was only about 8C moving around to cope with the lighter wind moments seemed the best option so it was 1.5 Vented sails with green race today.

Flying slow demands even more flier input, some of it very energetic, compared to the slow movement of the kite. Long arms with handles horizontal certainly worked for me today especially with horizontal passes and ‘thrown’ stops which are a bit similar to the two line practice and certainly familiar to the single line flier.

Felix

Felix

15/03/2015 Blackheath

Anticyclonic murk again today with Blackheath having it’s own cap of low cloud that threatened rain.

The east/north easterly breeze was lighter than forecast, about 7mph gusting up to about 12mph occasionally. Standard 1.5 sails with mostly green race rods were only occasionally overpowered.

Some neat free flying today, plenty of varied pace and related large and small moves which make the standard ‘team’ flying moves look a bit bland by comparison. The challenge is going to be finding a way to formalize the moves that are happening spontaneously…

The good thing about ‘team’ flying as opposed to ‘free’ flying is that it is a bit more demanding on the ground so good for keeping warm. Today we ended in the inevitable shower with the prospects looking a bit grim to the north east, very grey.

Felix

Felix

08/03/2015 Blackheath

It was a clear blue sky except for a bank of cloud out to the west just after 10:00am on Blackheath today. The temperature was well into double figures Centigrade and the wind c10mph from the SW.

Initially I set up a full sail 1.5 with the white race rods but eventually decided that it was a bit too much like hard work and so switched to a full vented with green race. Along the way I noticed that for holding the full sail left or right facing the difference in ‘hand position’ pulling the top of the sail ‘closer’ was about six inches. By comparison the much more comfortable configuration in the same wind speed with the full vented the displacement was about twelve inches.

In both instances I was holding the handles horizontally at thigh level (arms straight down) in order to maximize flexibility on the ground and provide positive or negative input to the effective wind speed as required. The transition here does not need to be abrupt, just moving forwards as the opportunity arises as if flying in very low wind conditions.

Felix

Felix

01/03/2015 Blackheath

Mostly sunny but with broken clouds driven by a close to westerly breeze that was mostly fluctuating in the mid 20s but with occasional long gusts at or above 30mph so did not exactly make for comfortable flying today.

Xtra Vents with 4 wrap were the only option. We decided against setting up the new lines to ‘stretch them in’! Interesting to note that the last time we had to take breaks when flying this set-up was back in August at Southshields. It has been a quiet winter and we have not had snow on Blackheath yet, either…

Only free flying today but given the conditions there was plenty of close flying. We stopped early today, not so much because of the weather but just because we were ’ahead’ and there was no damage <grins>

Felix

Felix

22/02/2015 Blackheath

The very thin high cloud was only just obscuring the sun but was effectively filtering any perceived warming effect. As the weather front was approaching the high cloud thickened and eventually a band of lower cloud rolled in.

The forecast c18mph breeze from the SW was reasonably consistent so Xtra Vents with race were only occasionally underpowered.

I really enjoy applying ‘low wind’ techniques in high wind conditions without getting ‘arm ache’ from struggling to hold on to the kite so conditions were good today for some occasional slo-mo flying especially slow, on the spot, rotations.

Mostly free flying today but we ended with another organized session picking up on some Cervia moves including a ‘rotation transition’ and some neat ‘arc’ flying in pairs and as four. (Xtra Vents in Cervia does of course sound a bit unlikely!)

Felix

Felix

15/02/2105 Blackheath

Anticyclonic murk gradually gave way to brighter moments with a light and then lighter variable easterly breeze. We started with full 1.5 sails and race rods but as the airflow slowed we had to switch to the diamond rods.

Nothing too elaborate on the flying front today but some interesting ‘counter point’ flying and some reasonably tight low wind following made for a sense of achievement anyway.

A couple of ‘passers by’ introduced themselves as ‘representatives’ of The Blackheath Society and said that they had noted our regular presence on the heath and were appreciative of our use of the site. It is interesting to make this connection after so many years.

New 120ft line sets are now ordered for the 2015 events. We just need to finalise arrangements for the UK events, Exmouth, Portsmouth and Bristol.

Felix

Felix

08/02/2015 Blackheath

A mostly smooth c7mph NW breeze and limited convection/relief cloud had us somewhat dazzled but at least slightly warmed today with full 1.5 sails and standard race rods.

The consistency of wind speed really does have a major impact and today, I would say, that there was a gradual increase through the session which meant that the sails were slightly over powered at the end. Along the way though we saw some spontaneous in line stops and inverse pendulums. That’s always a good indicator of ‘treacle’ flying… Likewise, the rolling ball when it really works!

A run through of Plan B and one of the Cervia ‘Dosy – Linear Rotation’ sequences also featured today with occasional passing but minimal audiences.

The 14th March is a fallback weekend but we may have to resort to Easter for the warm-up event. That is when we will be doing the full kit inspection anyway…

Felix

Felix

01/02/2015 Blackheath

A blustery NW airstream kept a cloud cap on the heath today with tantalizing glimpses of clear blue sky to the NW. The sun almost broke through on a couple of occasions, not that it would have made much difference to the wind chill.

Xtra vents with 4 wrap mostly were a bit of a handful in the lulls but the long arm horizontal handles of light wind technique filled the gaps for me and the physical activity helped in keeping warm…

As Berck and Cervia are organized we need to arrange a March event to get the fliers ‘up-to-speed’ so I am looking at the weekends of 21st or 28th March and searching for a suitable venue. Hopefully suggestions will now come rolling in. <grins>

Felix

Felix

25/01/2015 Blackheath

Broken cloud, light SW breeze 5-6mph so full 1.5 sails with diamond rods worked OK until the breeze firmed up and we decided that changing spars would be too much effort <grins>

Discussion today was about ‘precise’ stops assisted by vigorous throwing forwards of the handles rather than applying brake through ‘wrist’ adjustments. All good in my view and precisely in line with the ‘fighter kite’ sensibility! There is plenty of room for adjustment as well given the ‘full arm’ possibilities for the next step. I’m thinking that ‘throwing away’ the sail pressure will actually reduce the turbulence that may affect following kites…

We need to resolve issues regarding Berck but hope to have a full 8 team in place for the first weekend with a team presence for the Monday and Tuesday as well.

Felix

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