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About this blog

My personal observations

Entries in this blog


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>



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…



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!



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>



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.



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>




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!



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.



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.



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.



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>



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!)



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.



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…



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>



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.



18/01/2015 Blackheath

The cloud was breaking as we left Hackney this morning and for a brief spell on Blackheath there was ‘full on’ sunshine. As the light wind was from the North it was a bit bright!

Full 1.5 sails with mostly diamond rods, the green race were occasionally just a bit heavy apparently.

Some impressive free flying today with the occasional called sequences for the amusement of passers by.

With a little help from our friends Cervia is set and flights mostly booked. Berck logistics are in hand and will be finalised soon. We hope to arrange a ‘warm up’ event in the UK ahead of these two events. Maybe the Easter weekend if not before. <grins>



11/01/2015 Blackheath

Bright and breezy from the SW at about 20mph most of the time so Xtra Vents and 4 wrap mostly, only occasionally let down by lulls.

Mostly called today including a run through Plan A or was it B?

I hope to finalise arrangements for Berck and Cervia in the next few days. It is always an anxious moment waiting to hear back from all the fliers in order to be able to put proposals to the event organisers!



04/01/2015 Blackheath

It was very murky on the heath today, wet underfoot and in the air but no actual precipitation. 3C and a light SW breeze so it was 1.5 sails with mostly diamond rods.

Five fliers so there were some called moves but nothing too energetic. <grins>

We are getting the 2015 event schedule arranged and note the changed Portsmouth dates announced today, 15th and 16th August.



28/12/2014 Blackheath

Almost completely clear blue sky with a steady NNE breeze. About 5C so extra layers helped.

1.5 vented with green race were just right.

Four fliers today and we did a quick run through Plan A as well as some brisk called flying at the end of the session as a ‘warm-up’.

We may manage a New Years Day fly as well as the usual Sunday fly next week.



26/12/2014 Blackheath

Thick high cloud was not quite completely obscuring the sun. The SW breeze was minimal so full 1.5 sail and diamond rods today.

It was ‘fingertip flying’ with the handles most definitely horizontal for the long ‘pull backs’.

Wet underfoot with a lot of worm casts. Not too much evidence of the geese on the ground but four of them headed towards us in the air before veering off to the east.



21/12/2014 Blackheath

It was gusting over 30mph today from the west, mostly cloudy but dry with some brighter spells.

Xtra vents with green race worked well with the occasional lulls and gusts.

Only two fliers today so nothing called and we did not last very long as the wind chill got through.

The Blackwall Tunnel was backed up to Sun in the Sands roundabout so I took the long route home today. Must be Christmas shopping at Stratford generating extra traffic!



14/12/2014 Blackheath

It was bright today with a brisk southerly breeze. Mostly sunny but with little warming effect.

Full vented 1.5s again with green race were beginning to feel a bit over powered by the end of the session which may be because of flier fatigue, cold getting through or an actual slight increase in the wind speed.

Free flying to start and then a long series of called moves for the benefit, in part, of an enthusiastic photographer. Also the white van driver who made a point of stopping and coming out onto the heath before going ‘round the block’ to resume his journey… It takes all sorts!



07/12/2014 Blackheath

There were light showers on the road to Blackheath this morning. The promise was clearing skies with sunshine in the afternoon!

A brisk NW breeze so 1.5 full vented with mostly green race today. Five up and initially mostly free flying but Ashley did call some moves only to find the breeze collapsing on one occasion.

The low thinning cloud cover was deceptive and we were subjected to a sharp squall and wind shift to WNW before the sky cleared to cloudless blue. The sun was sufficient to dry the lines before we wrapped after running through some more called sequences as a warming exercise after the rain.



30/11/2014 Blackheath

The fog was breaking up in the light NW breeze as we headed to the Blackwall Tunnel this morning making for dramatic scenes with shafts of sunlight.

Conditions on the heath were very wet underfoot but not too much in the way of worm casts etc. The dramatic lighting continued and of course we were facing the sun when it did break through… the compensation was that it was actually warming!

Full 1.5 sails with Diamond rods were just right for a lazy no call session with only a couple of occasions when the breeze fell away.

I should get to know how plans for 2015 kite events fit with my day job in the next couple of weeks and will be making every effort to get the agenda for the year sorted soon thereafter.