Sunday 23 August 2015

Portsmouth Kite Festival

Even though Portsmouth was moved two weeks earlier, it was still the close of the 2015 festival season for us. As I've written before, that always gives a bit of a double feeling, and we were determined to go out with a bang at the biggest festival for us this year. We most certainly did, but more on that later!

Weather gave us a mixture of sun and clouds, and it remained dry all weekend. Wind varied between 6-12mph on Saturday, but much much lighter on Sunday: 3-4mph at most, but often down to nothing ... Warming up on Saturday was with our Airdynamics T5 Taipan Standards, but at the last moment before our first display, we switched down to our ultralights; good call it appeared to be and we stuck with these kites for the rest of the day, for both our 'Ruthless Queen' and 'Adiemus' routines.

On Sunday, with the much lighter winds, it was further down, to our Cubans. There were times during our various regular routines that there simply was no wind to speak of. But with a lot of walking backwards where necessary (aided by TC calling out how much space we still had; thanks TC!), and running forwards where possible, we kept the kites flying, and kept within the arena boundaries. Good no-wind practice for sure!

Over to the other teams present. First of all, our regular neighbours at kite festivals, Team Spectrum.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I simply can't get my head around how Carl can fly three kites at the same time; he must have three separate brains ... but very glad he is doing this at festivals (and glad he flew his Chi Mai routine on Sunday!)

The one team I was really looking forward to see was the Chinese Dalian Storm team. Simply because I'd never seen them fly before, and because I'd heard very good things about them.

They certainly didn't disappoint, and I'll let you watch one each of their team and pair performances for yourself, both from Saturday. Note the synchronised half-axels and axel-cascades!

Doubling the number of lines per kite brings us to the two Revolution teams present: The Flying Squad ...

... and the Decorators

Do they really need further introduction?

Of course, with both of these top teams present, a mega-team is the traditional close of the day at Portsmouth.

I said above, we went out with a bang, and here's why .... As the traditional close-of-the-day Revolution displays and mega-team were about to happen Sunday afternoon, Gill asked us if we were willing to fly one more routine. Happy to oblige, of course! We decided to fly our 'Ruthless Queen' routine once more. Why? Because we had already decided to retire this routine as our main festival and competition routine following Portsmouth, and start work on a new routine for 2016 (more on that in an upcoming blog post). So this was a perfect opportunity to say goodbye to 'Ruthless Queen', especially because the wind had picked up just a tad. As we launched, it was clear that the wind put just enough pressure on the Cuban sails to fly a slow, flowing and gracious routine, and I think we really nailed it. A worthy send-off for 'Ruthless Queen' and we both got a bit emotional when we flew the final heart pattern before landing the kites.

Following on from the last routine, the organisers of Portsmouth, Gill and Jon, always hand out a few trophies (winner of the altitude sprint, best kite, etc). We were really really chuffed when the trophy for 'Best Team Display' was given to .... Flying Fish! Really didn't expect that, going out with such a big bang, and it made the farewell for 'Ruthless Queen' that much more special!

Many more pics of the festival are here. One of these in this blog post, though: the moment when five Rolf Zimmermann Wyverex kites were up in the sky together; absolutely awesome sight!

Picture credits: of us flying on Saturday: Marie Coombs; of us flying on Sunday and receiving our trophy: Joe Brown

Sunday 2 August 2015

Dunstable Kite Festival

Following our first performance at Dunstable Kite Festival in 2014, we were very happy to be asked back this year. Saturday gave us sunny conditions, and a pretty strong, but consistent wind. Unusually for a kite festival, the arena programme kicked off with a mass fly, which included a 7-strong mega-team, consisting of the Airheads, Carl from Team Spectrum, and Flying Fish. First time we flew together with Carl!

For our own performances, we stuck to the Airdynamics T5 Taipan V2 we flew in the 'warm-up' mega-team for our Ruthless Queen routine. Great kites, and they had no problems whatsoever with the strong wind. We didn't even need to take off the patches, so they can take a lot more.

For our second routine to Adiemus, we switched to our Peter Powells. The consistently strong wind really suited them!

As to other teams present, I should first mention The Flying Squad, given that Dunstable is their home and practice ground. Solid performances, and you wouldn't expect anything less from them.

I already mentioned Carl from Team Spectrum; he and Bryan flew their usual three routines.

Besides the warm-up mega-team, the Airheads flew two different routines which I both managed to capture on video. Because of the sun shining in my eyes, I couldn't always see what's on the screen of my iPad, so there are a few times when the kites leave the frame. Still, I got them most of the time!

In stark contrast to Saturday, Sunday started off with a much more blustery wind, plus rain, which was pretty heavy at times. Together with the Airheads, we tried to fly a bit, but soon gave up, especially given that there was absolutely no public.

Shortly after noon, the second day was cancelled, everyone packed up as soon as they could, and left. Real pity, but the weather was decidedly unpleasant, and we did try ...

More pictures of the festival, almost all from Saturday, are here.

Picture credit of the mega-team: Jan Wright; of Flying Fish: Simon Dann.