Saturday, 20 August 2016

Portsmouth Kite Festival

Flying at Portsmouth Kite Festival this year was a bit strange. Since we took up kite-flying, Portsmouth has always been the final festival of the year, so it always gave a bit of a bittersweet feeling: great festival to enjoy, but also the last one. This year that double feeling wasn't there, as we still have Exmouth in two weeks time to look forward to.

The weather was very kind to us: sun and clouds on Saturday, and more sunny on Sunday. Wind was very good on Saturday, coming over the water, and mostly varying between 8 and 13mph. Sunday started off with very light winds, which changed direction a lot, but around lunch time, the wind settled to come off the water again, though a bit less than the day before. So apart from a few hours first thing Sunday, when everyone was struggling, the wind was pretty good!

As always when I report on festivals, I focus on the pair- and team flying, and I'll start off with Team Spectrum, our friendly and loyal neighbours at every festival we both attend. They flew their usual threesome of routines (1-2, 2-2, 1-3), and the Saturday winds allowed them to fly their pairs routine with three tails on each kite. Poor Jan and Georgina had a lot of tail rolling-up to do!

Back at the festival scene after an absence of a few years, were Close Encounters. They flew one routine, their well-known 'Con Te Partiro' routine, on both Saturday and Sunday. The main reason why there were present will become clear later in this post.

Moving to quad-line teams, first of all the Decorators were there with a 7-(wo)man team, flying their always crowd-pleasing routines.

And making their debut at Portsmouth was Now'Air from France, the reigning national and European champions, both as a pair ...

... and as a 4-(wo)man team.

Their routines were exquisite, both in terms of choreography and execution; I thoroughly enjoyed them!

So on to Flying Fish, and we decided to do something special for the weekend. Every year, Portsmouth has a specific theme, and this year, that theme was 'Retro'. When this was announced, we decided to fly our routines with 'old school' kites for as much as the wind would allow us. For our first routine on Saturday, the wind was perfect for our Cerfs-Volants Azur Tandem kites, so we flew our 'Chariots of Fire' routine with them, and repeated that for our afternoon slot.

For our second routine we felt that this was the perfect time and place for the UK debut of our Superman & Lois Lane Spin-Off kites. Flown, as by Ron Reich in the late 1980s, to the Love Theme from the Superman movie. As far as I am aware, this was the first time in 28 years that these kites have been flown at a public event! Wind was perfect for flying them in our morning and afternoon slots.

On Sunday, as I mentioned above, the wind was very light initially, much too light for any old school kite in our quiver. We did try to fly our pair of Fire Darts when we arrived, but that didn't work, so we had to use our modern Airdynamics T5 Cubans in the morning routines ('Chariots of Fire' and 'Adiemus'). By the time of our afternoon slot, the wind had picked up enough for us to fly both these routines with our Fire Darts.

Of course, lots more kite flyers attended the festival, and lots more kites were flown during the weekend. Pictures of some of them are here. However, I do want to highlight one particular kites, or rather one group of kites: Kaixuan Kite Trilobites. Allan Pothecary, from Close Encounters, wanted to attempt to break the world record of a Trilobite Mass Fly. The world record was established in the US, and stood at 12; surely that could be beaten? With help from especially a Dutch kite display team (EQ Kite Team), and with willing kite flyers chipping in to fly them, we smashed the world record of 12, and set it at either 20 or 21 (there were 20 Trilobites flying together in the main arena, plus one in the arena next door, so it's not clear yet whether that one counts as part of the Mass Fly). But either way, we're now joint world record holders!

We flew the two blue/purple Trilobites in the picture above, and enjoyed flying them so much, that I'm not ruling out Flying Fish adding a pair of Trilobites to their quiver (has to be more than one; a lone Trilobite will simply pine away due to lack of company). Just don't tell Irma ...

Back to our pair flying. It may be due to us flying almost all our routines with old school kites, it may be due specifically to us debuting Superman and Lois Lane, it may be due to us flying the unique 'Aloha stack' of Fire Darts (owned by TC, who gave it to us to fly during the 'retro kites' slots), or it may be due to all of the above, but we were presented with the 'Best Theme Kite' award by Jon and Gill at the end of the two days. This award goes to the kite(s) that best represents the theme of the festival.

Our 'old school' flying was clearly appreciated, providing a great end to what was probably our best ever Portsmouth Kite Festival!

Picture credits of us flying: Roger Backhouse and Carl Wright.

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