When the wind is from the east the eastern side of London is spared the depressing descending whine of planes headed for Heathrow as they cog in over Blackheath for the final approach to the runway. Given that it can start at 6:00am the absence of the noise is a real bonus and lends a relaxed demeanour to the days unaffected by the background disturbance.
Full vented 1.5 on 120s with 4 wrap frame was required today although the Rev 2 on 80s with a Race frame was very comfortably within its wind speed range.
I finally noticed the ferrule arrangement for the Rev 2. Just as well I had not gone looking for the missing ones.
This was our final Autumn event. Southerly winds over the north facing beach (backed by buildings) were never going to be easy but on Saturday we coped with the Rev1 sails and our regular spar set-up. (4 wrap centre, 3 wrap the rest)
On Sunday we started with the Rev1.5 sails and 3 wrap spars but progressed to the JMH vented sails with 4 wrap spars at a key moment as the weather developed through the morning. There were big changes in wind speed and direction but we managed some extended arena presentations.
After a short break c2:00 pm we returned to the beach to find that the event had been closed due to the adverse conditions! (The SLKs had suffered line breaks and other damage)
Ironically, after the previous weekend's blog concerns the event at Knokke (25-26th Sept) in Belgium provided a positive lift in respect to team capabilities and aspirations.
Saturday was tough but David Ellison's mega vented 1.5 sails coped very well with the very high onshore wind speed and kept the team performing.
Sunday morning started with Rev 1s but we quickly moved on to the JMH vented 1.5 set with 4 wrap spars. These proved to fit the conditions exactly and although I do not expect to see video evidence 'any time soon' we developed some new figures which will, I am sure, set an interesting bar in the near future <grins>
A dry grey day as befits mid September. A high cloud base provided the panorama of the northern and southern stacks for the Heathrow approach with an odd, larger than usual aircraft, take off from City Airport thrown in for good measure.
In reflective mode I'm wondering how it is, after 20 plus years flying the Revolution kite, we 'put up with' not being able to do everything, 'precisely' that we would like to do with the kite. Then we also have to 'accommodate' new fliers who 'complain' about how hard it is to learn.
So, going back to last week's 'no wobble ladder up/down', I cannot claim to be able to hit the mark every time but I do think that this simple manoeuvre holds the key to the successful control of the kite and that it is an essential skill for the Mega Team environment. Owning the hover is one thing but the transitions may be even more important...
After 4 weekends away Blackheath was looking very green today compared to how it looked just over a month ago.
There was time today to shuffle the carefully dried (after Sunday at Bristol) team kit ahead of the final two events of the season, Knokke in Belgium (25-26/09) and Margate in England (02-03/10).
The standard JB Pro 1.5 on 3 wrap was about right in the variable breeze (circa 1 - 8 mph) today but the mid vent on 2 wrap was also viable with a light touch. As we do not have the mid vent sails as a team option it was a rare pleasure to fly this format. (It was interesting to have seen how many mid vents were used at Long Beach.) This is all in complete contrast to the Decs' historical collective determination to use the Rev 1s at every opportunity up to the point that that even the 'heaviest' of fliers were not in comfortable control. <grins>
We took the opportunity today to look at handle holding positions and also the discipline of the <forward ladder up/down with precise wing tip turns to a 'no wobble' stop'>. I think that this should probably be the next challenge to mega grid fliers...
It was an excellent event at Portsmouth this year with 'slightly' demanding conditions on Sunday afternoon. <grins>
Thanks to everyone who took up the challenge of the grid fly in the arena on both days and also for all those who took advantage of the dedicated Rev field on Saturday, Sunday and Monday as well.
Having flown alongside Herman van den Broek in kite arenas in many countries over many years I was very touched to have been awarded the Portsmouth 2010 trophy by the event organisers. Thank you.
Just a quick note to confirm that after a very constructive week at WSIKF I got home at about 2:30pm local time today.
EDIT 26/08/2010. So we did not get close to 100 which means that it is still there as a challenge for the future. What was achieved though was a great lift in the confidence and capability of many fliers and also an understanding of the practical considerations of mega-team organisation. The two line launch worked very well indeed, helped by the discipline and patience demonstrated by all the fliers as the field was set up! It should be possible to bring the fliers closer together on the ground as well as in the air so that they could see the big picture, at least in peripheral vision.
The 'super sixteen' fly was a bit of a revelation in the lower wind speed. Plenty of potential for further development in my view and great fun on the day!
After a tense week, both at work and personally it was great to wind down in light breezes on Blackheath today. For the third weekend running it was light enough to set up the Zen alongside the JB Pro. Today we were flying into the sun so the plain white Zen glittered dramatically.
I ended up leading a 'no call' routine with the 1.5s in 'treacle mode' and found that a leading 'ladder up' could be an effective move that might also fold over at the top of the window.
Some 'free form' flying proved as interesting as ever. You really have to be confident about the capability of the other fliers to cope with random flight paths.
Finally, we packed the 'box' with the team kites for WSIKF. It weighed in at 22kg/48 1/2lb leaving space for a few final additions.
Another Zen possible day but again, like last weekend, alternating with the 1.5 JB Pro. Both line sets benefited from some precision adjustment enabled by the needle nosed pliers. I'm thinking that a finer leader knot spacing is going to be beneficial, about 1/4 inch steps should be good. Sliding adjustment has it's attractions but I do not think that the flier is ever going to be 'clever enough' to be able to adjust by 'feel' alone.
A strange sky scape over Blackheath c11:00am with contrasting cloud tone that gradually gave way to a more conventional 'sunny' afternoon.
The swifts that arrive over Hackney at the beginning of May have almost all vanished as they do most years at the end of July.
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!