Monday, 18 June 2012

Southampton Kite Festival

Weather forecasts in the week leading up to the Festival were atrocious, so I guess we shouldn't complain too much that Saturday saw very blustery winds (gusts up to 37mph, but sometimes down to almost nothing) and 'only' some light rain towards the end of the day, while on Sunday the wind was 6-15mph, with a good amount of sunshine and no rain (!).


Despite the very challenging conditions on Saturday, Flying Fish performed their very first two public routines! Our own vented kites could hardly cope with the strong, gusty, and rapidly-changing wind, but Barry and Fran, from Team Flame, were kind (and trusting!) enough to let us fly their super-vented Fury kites (thanks again, guys!) And we pulled it off! Sort of a baptism of air, but we got through our routine (twice) without crashing or any other major mistakes. Sure, it wasn't as polished as it could have been, but we were quite chuffed being able to fly our routine under these conditions.

Team Flame and Ex-Grads (Keith and Vee Griffiths) must have liked what they saw, because I was then asked to fly with them in a 5-(wo)man team. 

Pretty chuffed to be asked to join flyers from teams that were 7th and 10th at the recent World Championships!

So in the air were three super-vented Fury kites (flown by Barry, Fran, and myself), and two Airdynamics T5 Taipan V2 kites (flown by Vee and Keith). I was very pleased to be able to fly along and not make a complete a**e of myself ...

And to round off the day, Barry and Fran asked Irma and me to join them 'for a fun fly', involving four triple-stacks of Warp 9 kites.

Small though these kites are, as a triple-stack they were fast, and pulled quite a bit, but we did manage to fly some basic patterns, including boxes.

We went home exhausted, but very satisfied with our Festival d├ębut.


Because the weather was much better, there was a full Festival programme and so Flying Fish flew one routine. Or, to be more precise, one and a half .... During a wrap early in the routine, I got too close to Irma and we crashed into each other, with no chance of recovery. Bummer! Fortunately, we had enough time in our slot to set the kites up and start the music again, and fly our routine from scratch. Think we pretty much nailed it second time round!

With L-katz, we did a practice run before the official start of the Festival, and that was probably the best routine we've ever flown. But alas, during the two times we flew 'officially', we made some silly mistakes, and didn't fly to our ability. Just goes to show, the team routine definitely needs more work. We knew that, but the morning practice at least showed we can do it; we need to improve our consistency.

The final of the day was to be a mega-team fly, and for this, L-katz joined Team Flame, Ex-Grads, and two more flyers (one of whom, Michael, is only 9 years old) for a 11-kite mega-fly. Among these 11 kites were three different types (Fury, T5 and Dream On), so the challenge was first and foremost to try and match speeds (the Dream Ons are smaller and faster than the other two kite types), and then see what else we could do. Some kites crashed out during the mega-fly (and, on occasion, came back in formation again), but Irma and I were very pleased to be able to keep flying throughout. Apart from the infinities and ladders, we flew boxes, round the world cycles, and threads. Sometimes it looks like a cloud of crazy mosquitoes, but keep in mind that the three teams involved had never flown together before, and no one in L-katz had ever flown in such a large group of kites:

As you can probably hear on the video, there was quite a bit of calling to each other, especially from Barry, who was flying lead. But the shout that caused some hilarity came from Vee. At some point, Irma had to dodge another kite, but quickly got back into position. "Well recovered, that man!" shouted Vee. "That man is a woman!", I shouted back. Despite the concentration needed, we had to laugh!

If nothing else, flying in an 11-strong team was definitely exhilarating, and a worthy end to two days of pair/team-flying for us.

All Saturday photos were taken by Roger. All Sunday photos were taken by Rich, who also blogged his personal impression of our performances here. Video credit: Neil Gostling.

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