Saturday 25 November 2017

Tails, tails, tails ...

Flying at a festival with tails attached to your kites is always appealing to the public. The tails clearly add something to the visual spectacle. When we fly our Peter Powell routine, we obviously fly with tails, and the same goes for our VampDevil routine.

But what about dual-line deltas?

When we fly with the Airheads, we occasionally fly their tails, but as Flying Fish, we have not really flown dual-line deltas with tails at festivals as of yet. We do, however, have a pair of Tramontana's fitted with 100' black/red/blue transition tails ...

... and a pair of modern North Shores with 100' rainbow transition tails.

Recently, we decided to expand our options flying with tails. First, we got ourselves organza ribbons in green and orange to use as wing tip streamers on our Cubans.

We first flew them on a bright sunny day in very light winds.

The organza wing tip streamers were shimmering in the sunshine, and turned out a perfect match to the partly translucent Cuban kites!

Boosted by this, we got some 25m satin black ribbons, again with the aim of using them as wing tip streamers, but in stronger winds than the organza ones.

We flew them off our T5 ULs,

we flew them off our Rare Air Stealth Cheetahs,

and we flew them off our Cyborgs, not as wing tip streamers, but as double tails off the X in the centre of the frame.

For our Stealth Cheetahs, we also got 30m satin tails, in lilac and pink to match the non-black colour of the kites.

This gives us the option of flying the Stealth Cheetahs with a single tail as well.

And of course, we can also fly kites with both tails and wing tip streamers. This looks best on our Tramontanas:

For the upcoming festival season, we will try and fly our 'Adiemus' routine primarily with tails, and we now have a wide range of options for that, depending on the wind: from Cubans with organza wing tip streamers to Tramontanas with tails as well as wing tip streamers.

For our Cyborgs, however, we have a special plan ...

Monday 6 November 2017

Tribord R244, and a new dual-line pair

It all started at Portsmouth Kite Festival. After we had just completed one of our routines, and carried the kites back to our tent, a member of the public came to the arena boundary and said he wanted to thank me. It's always nice to hear that and have an opportunity talk to our audience, of course. But he stressed that he really really wanted to thank me. Turned out that he and his partner had seen us fly at Brighton Kite Festival the previous month and that that had suddenly turned on his partner's interest in kites and flying as a pair. Talk about leaving an impression! We obviously chatted a bit more with Piyush ('Pea') and Lisa, asked them where they lived, and, as that was well within driving distance from our normal team flying site of Stokes Bay, invited them to join us one day for some joint flying.

That day came pretty soon, and we flew with them, using our Dream Ons and their HQ Jives, for their very first experience at team-flying. While Pea was used to flying dual-line kites (though not in a pair or team), Lisa had never flown a dual-line kite until after Brighton. But, despite that, even in the time of a few hours she quickly gained confidence enough to fly with Irma, doing her best to follow Irma's lead.

Around that same time, Pea had stumbled across a full-size team kite called Tribord R244, sold by Decathlon for only £54.99. Would this possibly be a kite they could buy a pair of that would serve them well as their first full-size team kite, but for for less than the £200+ that a professional team kite would cost? Pea said he would take the gamble, order one and take things from there. I said that, depending on his experience, I would be willing to fork out for a pair for us as well, allowing us to fly with four, and would try to convince Roger and Neil, so we could fly as a 6-strong team.

Fast forward to us having indeed six Tribord R244 kites between us!

In terms of workmanship, the kite is not up there with the Airdynamics and Bensons of the kite world, but you can't expect that from a kite which costs about a quarter of what those top-end kites cost. Tribord R244 tracks well, and shows very little over- or understeer. Basic tricks (axels, half-axels) are easy, and I personally feel it's very good value for money.

Next time we met up at Stokes Bay, there were six of us, and six Tribord kites ready to fly. Pea and Lisa first flew a bit as a pair.

After which we threw them in the deep end, flying as part of a 4-strong and 5-strong team. 

We took them through follow-on infinities, ladders up and down, and boxes in various permutations.

Both of them, but especially Lisa, impressed us with how quickly they learned. Even though they made mistakes, and went the wrong way occasionally, they never panicked and usually managed to get themselves out of tricky situations.

Flying myself as part of the 5-strong team meant I couldn't take pictures at the same time, but trust me, they also got that exhilarating experience! At one point I called for threads, mistakingly thinking Lisa had already flown threads earlier that day as part of a 4-strong team. Turned out afterwards that Pea had flown threads earlier, but Lisa hadn't ... despite this, she kept her cool and managed to fly repeated threads without taking anyone down.

It really is fun to take a new pair under our wings, just as we were taken under Allan and Marilyn Pothecary's wings when we started out on our pair/team-flying journey. Pea and Lisa are extremely keen to learn and improve, and we are equally keen to help wherever and however possible. I am very curious where their journey will take them, but I'm sure that journey will include plenty more team-flying with us!