Saturday 29 September 2012

Birth of a routine

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned that we were going to work on a routine for Flying Fish especially for our Fish & Shark kites, and to the theme music of Jaws. While I was at a conference for work recently, I was getting some ideas during the coffee and tea breaks, and started to scribble them on the note pads we were provided with. Thought I'd share these scribbles, and give you some idea how a routine is born.

Anyway, warts and all, here's a page of scribbles, really writing down some ideas for patterns, and making some quick drawings to help me visualise them.

Once I had these ideas on paper, the next step was to put them in an order that 'works', an order that allows a smooth and flowing transition from one pattern to the next.

So there you have it: the birth of Flying Fish's "Jaws" routine! Now I'd be amazed if this actually is the final routine. It's much more likely that lots of things will change between having these first rough ideas on paper, and flying the actual routine to music at a festival next year. First of all, we need to fly the patterns, and what seems to work on paper may not work in the sky (there is one pattern which probably results in too much line wrap; can you spot which one?). And as we're test-flying them, we're likely to get other ideas which may work better than these original ones. And finally, we need to fly it to music, which means we need to work on timing. But I'm pretty sure that a number of these patterns will find their way into our final "Jaws" routine, in some form or other. Come watch us next year, and see how the final routine has changed from its birth!

Friday 21 September 2012

Some practice vids

Over the last couple of months, Flying FishL-katz and Wings on Strings have been video-ed several times while they were practicing their respective routines, so I thought it might be nice to put some of these together in a blog post. The videos are largely unedited (with one exception, where two shorter ones are merged into one), and are not set to music. Here goes!

First video is of Flying Fish, flying North Shore Konas at Stokes Bay. The video shows roughly the first half of the routine.

Then another video of Flying Fish, flying Hawaiians at Stoney Cross. The wind was pretty strong that day. Just before the video was made, Irma couldn't keep her footing in a gust of wind, and was pulled forwards into my lines (so that my lines almost cut her ear off). She then had to let go of the Sky Claws leading to her lines getting entangled with mine and her kite ending up just behind (phjew) a rather prickly gorse bush. Challenging conditions, to say the least! The video first shows some warm-up patterns (giving Irma the chance to settle back in again), with the actual routine starting around the 4:25 mark. Almost the entire routine is shown, except for the final pattern and landing.

Third up is a video of Wings on Strings, flying North Shore Konas at Stokes Bay. Pretty much the entire routine is covered.

Next a video of L-katz, flying North Shore Konas at Stokes Bay. The video captures about the first half of the routine.

And finally, another video of L-katz at Stokes Bay, flying North Shore Radicals. This time, the entire routine is shown.

Yes, it all needs tightening up! But that's exactly why we practice, of course. And we'll continue practicing through the winter, wind and weather allowing, in preparation for the 2013 kite festival season.

Video credit for the first and last video: Roger; for the other three videos: Tim Rohn

Monday 17 September 2012

STACK 2012 results

As you all probably know, STACK organises the UK championships, and the results of the 2012 season have just been published on their Facebook page (their regular web-site is still down at the time of writing, alas).

So, without further ado, presenting the 2012 UK champions dual-line team-flying ... drum roll ... Team Flame! Congratulations, guys!

Runners-up: Airheads! Judging by the overall scores, it was a pretty close race.

In the dual-line pairs category, first prize was snatched up by Phoenix, which consists of Fran Burstall and Tony Shiggins, both members of the winning Team Flame (second bout of congratulations coming your way!). Ex-Grads, consisting of Keith and Vee Griffiths, both members of Airheads, came second.

And although this blog is focused on pair/team-flying, I don't want to leave out the results of the individual dual-line category. UK champion is Tony Shiggins (congratulations x 3!), beating Keith Griffiths into second place.

So a full sweep of three gold medals for Tony, with three silvers for Keith. Full results on STACK's Facebook page.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Double Fury!

Most of the kites in our team kite quiver are purely precision kites, and not designed to do any slack-line tricks. Trying to coax an axel out of a Cerfs-Volants Azur isn't the easiest of things to do! But in the future, we do want to include some basic slack-line tricks (such as axels and half-axels) into a routine (I already have a clear candidate for the music we're going to use for that routine, but I'm not giving that away yet!). With that in mind, we have been keeping our eyes open for possibilities to have a few pairs of kites that are both good in precision and in slack-line tricks. Ideally a small number of pairs that, between them, cover a wide wind range.

So here's the first of such precision-and-trick pairs to add to our team kite quiver! We already had the 'blue-nosed' KRD Fury 0.85, and managed to add the 'red-nosed' one to it recently. Both were obtained via the Fractured Axel forum. Fury 0.85 kites really are in their element when the wind picks up, say 8+mph: tracking as if on rails, very crisp cornering, and the limit in terms of tricks lies with the flyer, not the kite. Being quite small (2.10m wing span), their pull remains manageable quite high up the wind speed scale.

With the higher end of the wind range now covered, we still need a pair for standard and for light winds; the search goes on!

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Very first mega-fly

I have mentioned before how the help and encouragement by Allan and Marilyn Pothecary, aka Close Encounters, was instrumental in getting us started in pair and team flying, and also hinted at the first mega-fly we flew with them. So here's the story ...

We usually fly at Stokes Bay with the other members of L-katz. Allan contacted me one day to try and arrange for the three of them (Allan and Marilyn, plus Dougie) to meet up with the five of us at Stokes Bay, and fly together in a mega-fly. Took some e-mailing back and forth to find a day we could all make, but we could pick a day, and all duly arrived on the field. Luckily, the weather turned out to be very helpful: sunny, lots of blue sky, and a wind that wasn't too light or too strong. We had already flown in a team of five, and that was already quite scary and exhilarating at the same time. Now we were going to fly with up to eight people, and so up to eight kites in the sky! Kite of choice was the Dream On, for the very simple reason that we all had one.

So we launched ...

... got into an infinity pattern ...

... careful not to crash into each other ...

... tried flying boxes right and boxes left in various configurations ...

... and really had fun in our first mega-fly, without any major crashes!

If you want to know what happened, in the air, and on the ground after we landed, here's a brief edited video, which I feel gives a good impression of our very first mega-fly:

Pictures taken by Roger. Video credits at the end of the video.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Xmas came early!

After seeing L-katz, Flying Fish, and Wings on Strings fly at the Southampton Kite Festival, Barry Savell, the National Director of STACK, mentioned to Neil that they have a number of North Shore kites that could be loaned to new teams on a long term basis. The aim of this is of course to stimulate team-flying in the UK. Whether there was interest from L-katz for such an arrangement? Now given that we have had difficulties in tuning the different North Shore Radicals that we have between us, getting matched North Shores for the team would be very useful, especially given their pedigree as the kites that won most world championships. So yes, please! When Barry first offered these STACK kites, I thought he was talking about five North Shore Radicals, which would be great. What actually happened is that we received two kite bags full of North Shores: Konas plus Radicals plus VIPs!! That means that each of the five members of L-katz now has a Kona - Radical - VIP set to fly when we're 'flying team'.

It really felt like Xmas had come early, and when we unpacked the kites, we were running around like kids not knowing which present to open first! Because the kites had been used by several top teams in the past (Airkraft, Punchline), they needed only very minor bridle tweaks at most to fly the same, and off we went, testing them out and getting a feel for which type flies best under which wind conditions.

Barry and STACK: thanks a lot for the motion of confidence in loaning us these kites. We'll take care of them, and, first and foremost, fly them!

Photo of the four of us flying North Shore Konas taken by Roger.