Saturday 27 July 2019

Crazy, mad, bonkers ...

The Stranger Level 7 is one of the weirdest sport kites around. I'm sure anyone who has flown one will agree with me that it's in a category of its own. On top of generally being mad as a bag of ferrets, it has the tendency to, all of a sudden; decide to fly towards you ... yes, you read that right! And with your lines getting slacker and slacker, there's nothing you can do until it decides to behave again ...

Quire early on in our kite-flying journey, I had the opportunity to add a SL7 to my quiver, and I felt I just had to get it, had to get the experience of flying it; or rather attempt to fly it .... Well, I had that experience, ticked the box, and our 'retro' SL7 is not a kite that is out of the bag a lot ...

Fast forward by quite a number of years, and someone on the Fractured Axel forum posted that he had a SL7 and would give it away to the highest bidder in a rather unusual auction: "That's right, I'm not interested in monetary bids: you bid with the number of times you promise to fly it before it ends up in your attic." Staying in the spirit of things, I put in a crazy bid, saying that we would fly a pair of SL7s in formation at least three times. Maybe I should have expected it: I was the only bidder ... Week or so later, we had a second SL7, in the 'mango' colour scheme.

So here's the pair of SL7s on our flying field, with me thinking "what did I get myself into ...."

But we actually flew them together! And I even managed to take a picture while doing so. Of course, they had their moments when they were bored with flying in formation, and decided to do something utterly different ...

Apologies for the kites not being in focus; I was pleased enough to fly them and at the same time get any picture of them together!

Next time we got the SL7s out, we played a bit more with bridle settings, as the first time we flew them they weren't perfectly matched.

Second time flying them together did work out a bit better (read: a bit less mental), and I managed to get a better picture this time.

I promised three times, didn't I? And I guess I have to up the ante in terms of evidence, so here's a brief video taken while flying (with the aid of a headband mount for my phone); at least they behaved during that video!

It definitely was a crazy, mad, bonkers idea in the first place, but I secretly enjoyed fulfilling our initial promise. Don't expect us to fly a pair of SL7s regularly at festivals, though!

Thursday 11 July 2019

Brighton Kite Festival

If you have followed our blog over the years, you may remember that Brighton was the first kite festival to give us an arena slot as invited flyers, back in 2012. Keep that Brighton debut in mind; I'll come back to that ...

Brighton wouldn't be Brighton if it didn't present us with some challenging conditions. Saturday was a gloriously warm and sunny day, with very low (0-3mph) and often thermal winds in the morning, and more steady 4-8mph winds in afternoon. Sunday was drizzly for about three quarters of the day; winds were 2-6mph. All pairs and teams present struggled with the wind, and each of them suffered kites falling out of the sky more than once.

The arena programme was very much focused on dual-line pairs and teams, more so than in previous years. So, without further ado, here are the pairs and teams flying in the arena:

Team Spectrum, flying their usual programme of Carl flying two kites, Bryan joining Carl for pair-flying, and Carl flying three kites.

Following on from their Brighton debut last yearTwisted Bridle flew their Aerosmith routine as well as a new routine to completely different music. Good to see them varying their performances (yes, I know I'm biased ...)

Skytracks performed in the arena in their second festival appearance, following their debut at Bridlington. Due to technical glitch, routines in their first slot had to be flown without music, but fortunately, the problem could be sorted for their subsequent slots. Great to see a new pair coming on the scene.

As Flying Fish we used the opportunity to practice the technical routine we use in competition, with musical background ("Ruthless Queen"). Given the very low (and often nearly absent) winds, we decided on our "Ivo" routine for our second routine of the slot. This is one we debuted at Basingstoke last year: a 'make it up as we go along' routine for very low winds. The start is choreographed, but we then basically jam it. As the end of the music approached I decided at the last moment to try refuel landing. We'd never done this before, never even practiced it, but I thought what the heck ... didn't tell Irma what I was planning, to prevent her overthinking it. Just called for a refuel as the kites went up, turned the kites down as soon as the refuel was locked in place, and went for it. And we did it!! Really chuffed with that and another kite flyer referred to it as an 'awesome landing'.

Twisted Bridle and Flying Fish present at the same festival of course means that L-katz flew. We flew our standard two festival routines, to Gloria Estefan and the Targaryen Theme.

L-katz also joined with Skytracks at the end of the dual-line team block on Sunday. No pictures have as yet surfaced from this 'Sky-katz' mega-team.

Even though there was a clear emphasis on dual-line pair/team-flying, there were other performances in the arena: Paul Thody flew his massive Flexifoil Stacker 6 stack ...

... and several quad flyers performed individually: Simon Franks, Jeremy Wharton, Andrew Jones, and Tom Greenfield (with his gorgeous 8-stack of Phoenix kites).

More pics of Brighton Kite Festival are here; note the giant Pegasus! I usually pick out something specific towards the end in these festival blog posts, and I want to highlight Jaiden here. Following his arena debut at Basingstoke last month, where he flew in the 'mystery ballet', he was now given two full display slots, flying his own routine to music. Nine years of age, but he showed maturity beyond his years; the future of sport kite flying lies with kids like this!

So Jaiden had his full arena debut at Brighton, as did Twisted Bridle last year, and Flying Fish in 2012; clearly, Brighton is fertile ground for debuts!.

Picture credit of Team Spectrum, Twisted Bridle, Flying Fish and L-katz: Carl/Jan Wright