Margate proved that sometimes the sun can shine on the last weekend in September. We had two glorious days...
The forecast southerly breeze arrived on Saturday morning after a brief time when the 'land sea breeze' (northerly) had the upper hand. A good day followed, albeit somewhat turbulent. We were using the Rev 1 sails and our standard 3 wrap spars with a 4 wrap centre.
Imagina performed on Saturday and Sunday and I think that I will be able to put some video from Saturday on You Tube at some point.
On Sunday the southerly breeze was established when we set up at 10:00am. Later in the day there was a gradual increase in wind speed and we switched to the 1.5s with 3 wrap spars.
It was a very good weekend despite showers on Saturday and Sunday morning. 1.5 Vented sails were all we used, swapping from Race to 4 wrap on Saturday later in the afternoon. Race rods on Sunday!
On Sunday afternoon the breeze which had been slightly offshore rather than along the beach gently swung through about 90 degrees to a steady onshore which lasted until the end of the event. This provided probably the best flying conditions we have experienced this year and Jacob called a great routine to Miles Davis 'Tutu' followed by a final Beatles 'Come Together'.
We carried on flying outside the arena for quite some time after the arena spot before taking a break before the final Super Sixteen which also proved to be a highlight of the event, if not the year.
Vented 1.5s with 4 wrap in gradually strengthening SW breezes today. We had a visit from a scout for 'Britain's Got Talent' and suggested that a Mega Fly might be a contender. I did mention the 100 number and explained the logistical issues. (NB I am aware that we do not have 100 UK fliers anyway!)
On a more practical level we tried a 'dice 5 block' doing 'quarter turn stepped infinities' which is something I would like to see done 'in grid'. We brought the kites as closely together as was practical and then ramped up the turn interval...
Scheveningen (17-18/09/2011) looks set to be an interesting Rev Event this year given the scheduled 16 flier Mega-Team. Stephen Versteegh has told me that we should expect to work hard! I'm very much looking forward to that event and also our return to Margate the following week which will conclude events for 2011.
Somewhere along the way we have now done 200 festival events. Last weekend was the 25th Bristol event. The Decs were there for 21 of them. I missed the 2006 one...
Another great weekend. The weather held* and the crowds turned up to the 25th Bristol event. The Decs have, I think, attended 21 times as a team. I missed the 2006 one!
With the Olympics taking place next year in the UK the Bristol Kite event is will not occur in 2012. I do hope that it will go ahead in 2013!
*We used Rev1, Rev1.5 and Vented1.5 during the course of the weekend <grins>
A great weekend in Portsmouth even if the promised arena boundaries never arrived and the PA was only 'fully' operational on Sunday thanks to the efforts of Jon and Gill.
The 2pm Mega Fly on Sunday drew the crowds and did not 'interrupt' the main arena events especially after the 'prolonged' shower had curtailed the time available. The 'mini mega' team format in the main arena also seemed to work very well.
Lighter breezes today full 1.5 sail with Race Rods. I had been worried that the tracking moves that I had been working on with the vented kites over the last couple of weeks would not translate back onto the full sail but today I found that everything worked just fine.* Taking it onto the team kites without the JB panelled sail structure will be the next step.
(*Reading back, I find, that of course I had been using the full JB sail on the last weekend in July on the same project!)
Portsmouth next weekend could be interesting or not depending on the willingness of the fliers to get involved outside of their normal comfort zone. I am hoping to see some development of the 'moving grid' as we flew 16 in Long Beach last year and more recently 9 at Sunderland. It would be great to see this at 36 kites...
Vented 1.5 with green race today for me. Warmer than last weekend but still the occasional dark grey cloud passing low. No rain or thunder risk today...
Ad hoc flying mostly avoiding anything that looked like a follow. With only three kites today we saw some drifting cogs and rotations. Some of those rotating moves can be executed quite passively as others have noted in the Cartwheel thread. You just go with the flow...
I am looking forwards to the Portsmouth event still hoping that we can hit 48 and do some new moves in the grid anyway.
Just raided the loft for auction items for the Portsmouth and Bristol events. Unearthed some Decs kit that does not look like it was ever flown. Not Revs though!
Bright and breezy start so full vented and 4 wrap.
Applying 'light wind technique' to flying the vented kites has been my objective for some time now and today was another opportunity to test the concept further. From a practical point of view my 'test' is to fly the kite as slowly as is possible without ending up with 'tired' muscles due to 'hanging on' to the handles. Plenty of brake for starters and then a 'ready to move' stance, one foot a stride forwards, arms down at side, handles horizontal. Switching the leading foot is trivial, finding the point to swing the arms, less so, but out at the edge of the wind window there is opportunity for plenty of input to maintain direction and speed. In the centre of the window initiating and completing turns can be accomplished without changing angle of attack with the L/R handles. Here I am mostly intent on wing-tip turns with a precise exit point after the turn.
An approaching cloud ended the session today as once again there was a possibility of thundery conditions. The rain started just before we reached the cars and it was those big ice cold drops that had travelled from a high altitude.
Just moments after posting there was a peal of thunder from another passing shower. Be careful everyone!
We learned that Knokke-Heist would not go ahead, for us, mid-week.
Today was a typical summer's day on Blackheath which is now turning a more seasonal brown rather than the recent lush green after a mostly wet June and July.
Breezes were light and variable often dropping off completely. The direction was switching c180 degrees over a short time frame as well. It was not quite a Zen breeze so full sail 1.5 with normal race rods seemed about right.
Following on from last week I was concentrating on articulating straight line flying before and after a 45 or 90 degree 'crisp' (wing tip) turn all at a constant speed. In the variable conditions this required a lot of arm and groundwork.
We discussed how to learn to avoid pulling the handles in to the chest by developing muscle memory. This basically comes down to playing those scales over and over again especially in light conditions. In more consistent breezes using a kite with more venting than strictly necessary could have the same learning effect making the flier work a little harder to achieve the desired line. As ever, the solo flier will never have to make the extra effort to match fellow team flier's trajectories...
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.