Friday 17 August 2018

Portsmouth Kite Festival

Where did time go this summer? It's already Portsmouth, which, for us, usually signifies the end, or at least a winding down of the festival season (we still have two events after Portsmouth this year).

Forecast was for decent weather and light winds on Saturday, and for heavy rain and very strong and gusty winds on Sunday. Turned out the forecast was correct for one of the days, and wrong for the other. Fortunately, that worked in our favour! Saturday indeed gave us smooth light winds, and although Sunday was wet and windy most of the day, the predicted heavy rains and 40mph gusts never materialised.

Good number of pairs/team-flying at Portsmouth: seven pairs and one or two team (depending on how you count). Some of the usual suspects, but also two foreign pairs new to Portsmouth. In no particular order, the pairs flying at Portsmouth were:

Team Spectrum - Carl and Bryan flying their usual set. You can always trust them to deliver a solid performance, no matter the weather.

Fenix Pair - new to Portsmouth, Stephan from Belgium and Ingeborg from the Netherlands flew Nirvanas for their routines, which featured some nice cascades and refuels.

Twisted Bridle - not officially on the programme, but squeezed in with general consent. Fun for them to be back at the festival where their journey basically started.

Flying Fish - back at Portsmouth for the 6th time. We flew routines to 'Chariots of Fire' (our competition ballet for the last three years), 'Ruthless Queen' and 'Adiemus' (and we managed the double catch at the end!)

One more routine we flew on Saturday, when the wind was deliciously light and smooth. This was a make-up-as-we-go-along routine with the 'Decorator Phantoms'. Their official festival debut under our custodianship, and good opportunity to fly them with their previous owners watching! Music we flew them to was Kayak - Phantom of the Night (I had to find some music with a phantom link!)

On to quad line pairs!

Amalgamation - in the old line-up, featuring Tom and Josh.

Dunstable Downs Old Gents - Bill and Graham, with their very laid-back routines, are becoming a fixed feature of Portsmouth.

Viento Sur - new to Portsmouth, from Spain (and having to get used to flying in the rain!), flying several routines. Especially Juan Miguel and Rafa's 'Tango' was sublime, really capturing the attraction and repulsion that's so characteristic for a tango. 

I did mention one team, and if you've been paying attention, you'll know that that team was The Decorators, featuring a line-up of seven flyers this time.

So what about that second team I mentioned earlier? A special slot we participated in was one in which STACK celebrated its 30 year existence. This slot started off with TC flying a Peter Powell Stunter (one from my collection), followed by a Top of the Line Hawaiian (also from my collection, flown by me on Saturday and by Irma on Sunday) and then a 9-strong mega-team flying North Shore Radicals (basically involving members from Flame, Airheads, Flying Fish and Twisted Bridle, with Andy and Josh thrown in as well).

It really was exhilarating flying, especially because not all North Shores were flying at the same speed ... Judge for yourself in the video below!

More pictures of the festival are here, and, as usual, I highlight one further aspect of Portsmouth: Viento Sur winning 'Portsmouth' as part of the STACK Festival League (more on that in a future blog post).

Picture credits: Carl Wright (Twisted Bridle, Flying Fish, STACK mega-team), Franca Perletti (Flying Fish), Andy Taylor (STACK mega-team); video credit: Bill Final

Thursday 9 August 2018

Exmouth Kite Festival

Back for the 4th time at Exmouth, as always brilliantly organised by David Ellison and the Rotarians. The weather was mostly sunny, whereas the wind was typically not as forecast (Exmouth tends to have its own microclimate where the wind is concerned!). Light but smooth and sweet coming off the estuary on Saturday (180 degrees different from forecast ...) and more changeable in strength and direction on Sunday (again, not as expected).

Waving the pair/team-flying flag at Exmouth were three pairs and a team, and as can be expected, some cross-fertilisation between them, and with other flyers.

First of all, the Ex-Grads, flying their 'factory' Airdynamics T5 kites. Ex-Grads won 'Exmouth' as part of the new STACK Festival League (more on that in a future blog post).

Add Peter Taylor to the mix, and you get the Airheads, also flying T5 kites.

New to Exmouth was Twisted Bridle, flying at only their 3rd festival, following their festival debut at Brighton.

Amazing to think that less than a year ago, they'd never flown together, and Lisa had never even flown a dual-line kite. Just shows what can be achieved if you're keen! Guess what they flew? Right: Airdynamics T5!

And then of course Flying Fish, flying (surprise!) T5 kites as well (there is a theme here, isn't there?). It was definitely nice to be introduced as the UK National Dual-line Pairs Champions! We flew a standard set of routines: Ruthless Queen and Adiemus. Interesting challenge on Sunday, when we set up for our slot with our backs to the estuary, and actually flew our routines facing the estuary; wind turned 180 degrees in a space of minutes.

As I said, considerable cross-fertilisation took place. Tom Greenfield flew with Brian Williamson and two or three members of the Airheads, under the name 'Easy Tom and the Exmouth Flyers'. One of their routines was a 2 + 4, featuring two dual-lines kites and two quad-line kites!

And then there was the unavoidable mega-team, consisting of, you guessed it, the Airheads, Flying Fish and Twisted Bridle.

More pictures of the festival are here, but as I do often, I want to highlight two other aspects of the festival. First of all, the Open Arena slots, in which the public (kids as well as grown-up kids) were invited to come into the arena and fly their kites. David had also made 30-odd rainbow deltas available for this. If you want to try and get people to take up kite-flying, just putting on a show they passively watch is not going to do it. They need to be actively involved, feel the connection. And the smiles on kids' faces during these slots are testament to this.

And then the rokkaku fights, on Sunday accompanied by Japanese drumming by Taiko Journey. That really added a whole new dimension to rok fighting!

Picture credits: Franca Perletti (Twisted Bridle, Flying Fish); Valerie Hancorn (mega-team)

Friday 3 August 2018

Two flyers, three Scorpions

One of the classic kites that, for some reason, I hadn't even flown yet until recently, is a Flexifoil Scorpion. And then, as if the universe wanted to make up for that, I ended up with three Scorpions in a very short space of time ...

Scorpion #1 was a SC06:

And Scorpion #2 a SC04:

At that point, I thought we'd simply have a pair of Scorpions to fly. Until I got my hands on another SC06, and that triggered an idea ...

How about stacking two of the Scorpions (one of the SC06s and the SC04), and then fly that 2-stack side-by-side with a single Scorpion (the other SC06)?

First create a stack, of course, which turned out to be pretty simple.

I sort of guessed the length of the stacking lines, but they behaved really well together at the first attempt!

Even though the wind was quite light (6-9mph), they developed quite a bit of a pull.

So, time to get the single Scorpion involved!

My initial guess was that the stack would fly a bit slower than the single kite. Twice the weight, but less than twice the effective sail surface area. Turned out my guess was right: the stack indeed flew noticeably slower than the single kite, though not by much.

And the fact that the single kite flew a bit faster than the stack just screamed 'refuel' at us. Could the two of us fly a three-kite refuel?

Turned out to be pretty easy; certainly easier than trying to take a picture of a refuel while flying it!

As you may know, as Flying Fish we're constantly looking for unusual kites to fly at festivals. I think being able to fly three Scorpions like this counts as unusual.