'There', by the way, is Dunstable Downs. Weather over the weekend of May 31 and June 1 was dry, but the wind was challenging: it often wasn't there ... On Saturday, we had 0-5mph, with a wind that had a tendency to drop away completely mid-figure or mid-routine. On Sunday, it was mostly thermals and 3mph was considered a gust ...
Competition format consisted of three figures plus a ballet. Two rounds for individual, pair and team precision on Saturday, and one round for freestyle on Sunday. The intended third round for individuals/pairs/teams on Sunday never happened due to frequent wind recesses; there was a struggle to complete even the single freestyle round. So, without further ado, the 2014 winners are ...
... individual champion: Tony Shiggins!
... pairs champions: Phoenix!
... team champions: Flame!
Yes, Tony has his polishing sorted for the coming year ...
And freestyle champion: Yan Spooner!
And what about Flying Fish? We struggled a lot with the very low or non-existing wind, we made mistakes, we didn't fly nearly as well as we could, but we got through our first two rounds of competition at national level. And I didn't forget even once to call 'in' or 'out', which is something I was quite concerned about beforehand (simply because we're not used to doing that when we fly at festivals).
Of course, the day was concluded with a mega-team, with up to 10 kites in the air at the same time: Flame (3), Andy Taylor, Flying Fish (2), AirHeads (2), John Williams and Steven Hoath (of The Flying Squad fame).
In the end results, Phoenix beat us by a mile and then some, but nevertheless Flying Fish is now officially 2nd in pairs in the UK, and Champions in the Experienced Class!
Now of course, you can point at the inevitability of us coming second when only two pairs competed and there was no chance of beating Phoenix (unless they were forced to fly blindfolded and with one hand). But I'd say this in response: First of all, it's not our fault that, besides Phoenix and us, no other pair entered the competition. Whatever their reason, all other UK pairs 'failed' to clear the first hurdle, which is to be in the arena, on the day. And secondly, we didn't just show up, launch and crash a kite, get 0 points and come second. Given the challenging wind, and despite all the mistakes we made, we feel we performed at a level we don't have to be ashamed of. Both Keith Griffiths and Barry Savell said that the scores we got at our debut (overall 47.8, with most scores in the mid to high 40s and a few in the 50s) were higher than the scores they got at their respective debuts. Or, as Barry put it succinctly "Your debut scores piss on our debut scores".
And winning a piece of kite-flying silverware does feel like a reward for all the hours of practice we have put into our pair-flying over the last few years. So we feel pleased.
Full results of the weekend, including updated UK rankings (where we enter in 3rd position, behind Phoenix and Ex-Grads), are on the STACK web-site, and more photos of the event are here.
Additional picture credits: Simon Dann (us flying) and Andy Taylor (us with trophy).