Wednesday 11 April 2018

Minchinhampton Kite Festival

Following our appearance at Minchinhampton Kite Day last year, we were invited back for 2018, and now for a fully-fledged weekend-long festival. As some of you know, Minchinhampton Kite Festival almost didn't happen, until Alfie Jobbins managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat: 'Minch' was back on, on a different site: Tobacconist Farm camp site.

So, for the second year running, Minchinhampton was the opener of our festival season. Weather wasn't the greatest: both days saw overcast skies, on-and-off drizzle, and very low winds. As always in these festival blog posts, I focus on the pair/team-flying.

And there was a good line-up of that! First off, Flame, in a new line-up (Vee replacing retired Tony), getting some final festival practice in prior to flying at the World Championships.

Next up, Airheads. Vee was kept busy!

Moving over to quads, Amalgamation performed as a pair, featuring Tom and Jeremy.

And then on to Flying Fish. Given the very low wind, which occasionally dropped down to almost nothing, we decided to stick to our Ruthless Queen and Adiemus routines, as these are not so strictly choreographed to music as Chariots. First slot, we really needed to get our brain in festival-gear again, but the subsequent slots went pretty well.

Saturday afternoon, the wind picked up a bit, and we decided to risk giving our pair of Symphony foils their festival debut. Risk paid off, and we'll definitely fly these more often at festivals this year!

Even though the field was rather small, we decided we couldn't let the opportunity pass of having Flame, Airheads, Amalgamation and us fly in a mixed dual/quad mega-team. Hard work in the very low winds, especially for the two quad-flyers!

In addition to the pairs and teams I mentioned above, one more pair was present at the festival: Twisted Bridle. They are new to pair-flying, and we've taken them under our wings, coaching them and helping them where we can. With no arena experience at a festival, they were really thrown in the deep end Sunday morning: 10-strong mega-team, surrounded by Airheads, Flying Fish and Flame.

They told me afterwards it was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, but they really held their ground, given their lack of experience, and the very low winds; well done to both of you! Later that day, we also flew with them in a 4-strong team; I don't think any pictures of that were taken, but Twisted Bridle have well and truly arrived at the UK kite festival scene.

As usual, I took lots more pictures of the kites and people at the festival, and they can be seen here. One kite I'll pick out here: the festival debut of Amarinth; isn't he gorgeous?

Picture credits: Neil Lover, Alan Pinnock, Jeremy Wharton; video credit: Neil Lover

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Double Symphony!

If you have been following us, whether at festivals or via our blog or Facebook page, you may know that we're always on the lookout for kites we can fly as a pair which are a bit 'different'. Also, we're keen to find kites which show the public that you don't necessarily need £200+ kites to have fun pair- or team-flying. With the latter objective in mind, last year we got ourselves a second HQ Yukon, so we have a pair of very basic dual-line deltas to fly.

Another type of basic dual-line kite is of course a sparless foil, and this type of kite we often see flown by members of the public at our regular practice fields and at festivals.

So .....

..... we got ourselves a pair of HQ Symphony Pro 1.8 kites, one Neon, one Edge!

First outing with them showed that they don't need much wind to fly, they are easy to steer and track pretty well, and they hardly deflate. Exactly what we need!

Of course, pair-flying them was the main objective. We tried them on the provided 25m lines, which felt a bit short. We tried them on our standard 40m lines, which felt a bit long. Turned out that 25m lines with 5m leaders works a treat.

Especially when the wind picks up, their speed increases and this allows a sweeping routine, with fast circles, loops, ladders, wraps. They really add something to what we can do at festivals. As to music to fly them to, I've got something in mind, but you need to come to a festival to find out (tease, tease ...)

By the way, we didn't get two .... we got six, allowing us to fly them in a larger team; I think six of these kites flying sweeping patterns will look quite spectacular!

Sunday 1 April 2018


If John Barresi designs and brings out a new kite, you take notice. So when his indoor/urban Kaiju kite was announced, I looked into it straightaway, argued with myself that I didn't really need one, and resisted for at least half an hour (good, eh?) before putting a pre-order in. For a pair of them ...

We picked them up from our local ParcelForce depot, which, very fittingly, is located at at Kite's Croft business park.

And here's our pair of Kaijus, in a properly urban environment. My kite is white with blue tail and wing tips; Irma's black with red tail and wing tips. As such, they nicely reflect some of the colour schemes we're using as Flying Fish.

First time out was on our regular flying field in the New Forest, with winds of 0-2mph (occasionally gusting up to 4mph). We tried them on the provided 7' lines, which felt very intimate, given we're used to flying on 45m lines!

John has provided a series of video tutorials to indoor flying, and as we have no experience with flying dual-line kites in zero wind, we started at the beginning: up-and-over. Whereas the 'up' went fine, the 'over' was a bit more difficult. Even though the wind was minimal, the kites are so light that even 1-2mph blew the kites back before we could land them. Need to try that again indoors, or when there really is no wind whatsoever.

As we're a kite-flying pair, we had to fly them together, of course! The 7' lines don't work for that, so we hooked them up to 15m lines. And that showed that we can indeed fly them together as a pair. Obviously, they're not as precise as our T5s or other team kites; they're not designed for that kind of flying. But once we got used to reducing our input, we could do quite a bit with them. And they do very nice synchronised pancake landings ...

Second time we had then out, we again had winds 0-2mph, with 3mph a gust. As the 15m lines we flew them together on felt a bit short for pair-flying, we made two sets of very light (20lbs) 24m lines. And that really worked a treat for flying them as a pair!

Of course, we want to try them out much more in surroundings they're designed for: indoor and urban. But we'll definitely have them with us when we go to festivals: if the wind dies down completely, we'll still be able to keep performing.

By the way, the name 'Kaiju' refers to mythological Japanese beasts.

So if we ever fly the pair at a festival, we'll definitely do so to some Japanese music. Something like this, maybe?