Wednesday 28 August 2019

Bognor Regis Kite Festival

Our final kite festival of the 2019 season was a new one for us: Bognor Regis. It also was the first 3-day festival we flew at, providing us with two 'firsts'.

Weather over the August bank holiday weekend was gorgeous: warm and sunny. Over the three days, the wind gradually dropped, starting off at 7-12mph on Saturday morning, and ending up at 0-4mph for most of Monday. Fortunately, whenever we flew, the wind was at least fly-able (though only just on Monday afternoon). Really big open site, which meant that whatever wind there was, it was quite smooth. The large arena was split into a dynamic and a static half, which worked fine.

We were given two one-hour slots each day, to fill as we saw fit. First up in each of the slots was Flying Fish, flying two routines. On Saturday and Sunday, we flew our technical routine to "Ruthless Queen" and our new competition ballet (to "War of the Worlds"); good to have a bit more arena practice for both of these prior to the final round of the Nationals the following weekend. On Monday, due to the almost absent wind, we switched to two make-it-up-as-we-go-along routines, to "Ivo" and "Rise like a Phoenix". As to kites, we flew Airdynamics T5 Taipan ultralights, KiteTec Impulse ultralights, and Airdynamics T5 Cubans.

Twisted Bridle, our 'sister pair', then took to the arena, and flew their established "Fly Away from Here" routine as well as their new routine for this festival season ("Familiar" by Liam Payne). As you're probably aware, we've been coaching them from the start, and I'm immensely proud of what they have achieved since taking up the sport less than two years ago.

Flying Fish then returned to the arena, joining Twisted Bridle to form L-katz. We flew our standard team routines for this season ("Can't Stay Away from You", our competition ballet; and "Targaryen Theme" to which we basically flew our technical team routine). Starting off with flying Tribord R244 kites first, we switched to Airdynamics T5 Cubans when the wind dropped.

On Sunday, Simon Franks joined L-katz for an extra mini-mega-team performance, and he also flew on his own in a later slot, flying two kites.

And I really should mention Jaiden, who, at only 9 years old, is already becoming a festival regular, following arena performances at Basingstoke and Brighton. I really wouldn't be surprised to see him flying at the National Championships in a few years time.

picture credits: Piyush Patel and Alan Pinnock (Flying Fish); Alan Pinnock (L-katz)

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Double Zonda!

Several years ago, a team member brought one of his 'old school' kites to team practice. At that point, he didn't know the name of the kite, or which company produced it, but enquiries on the Fractured Axel forum soon clarified that this was a Zonda Sport, made by Air-Crafts, a UK company no longer active.

Flying the Zonda Sport was a pleasure: the kite didn't need much wind to fly, and tracking was excellent.

Fast forward something like seven years .... the team member actually had a pair of Zondas, and they were more or less gathering dust. To make a not very long story even shorter, we quickly agreed on a price, and Flying Fish had another pair of 'old school' kites to add to their pair quiver.

Flying the Zondas again after so many years confirmed the initial impression we had: flying in little wind, with a solid feel on the lines, no oversteer or understeer, and with excellent tracking.

No need for any bridle tweaking; the years in their bags clearly didn't mean they'd forgotten how to fly together as a pair!

Being quite flat kites, axels and half-axels aren't easy to pull off, but other than that, we have a nice pair of kites to add to our pair/team bags!

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Portsmouth Kite Festival

The wind forecast in the run-up to Portsmouth was dire ..... unfortunately they proved correct: the wind turned out to be so strong that events up and down the country were cancelled. St Anne's Kite Festival was one of the victims, and where Portsmouth was concerned, the Saturday was essentially cancelled (meaning flyers could put up kites if they felt it was safe to do so, but there would be no scheduled programme).

On Saturday morning, most invited flyers attended the pilot's meeting, and some then tried to fly at least something. With winds gusting up to 55mph, we didn't dare risk any dual-liners, but did put up our pair of Gibson Girls.

Being single-liners, they can't be steered, so our pair-flying of 'GGirls' consisted of the kites being in the air, while we 'walked' various patterns on the ground. Surely the most bizarre pair routine we've ever flown at a festival! Flying single-liners does make a 'selfie-while-pair-flying' a lot easier!

On Sunday, the winds had more or less halved (mostly 20-28mph), which meant that an almost full programme could be run (the main victims were the dragons, of which a blaze was originally planned). Coming over the water, although still pretty strong, the wind was pretty consistent, so actually not at all bad to fly in. One issue was that the PA system was downwind from the flyers, and didn't have enough power to overcome the wind ... more on that a bit later.

Which pairs and teams were appearing in the arena? First of all, the Dunstable Downs Old Gents, flying a new routine.

Team Spectrum was of course present, flying their familiar series of routines.

And The Decorators featured, as usual, both with a 6-strong team, and with various guest flyers.

As to Flying Fish, the wind was perfect for our Airdynamics T5 V2 (patches off, but no brakes necessary), but we did struggle with the PA not having enough power. It's difficult to fly to music if you mostly can't hear the music! Still we tried, and flew our 'Ruthless Queen' and 'Rise Like a Phoenix' (following its debut at Basingstoke) routines.

The first of our two 'Ruthless Queen' routines had to be flown entirely without music due to the PA system packing up temporarily. So we simply flew out technical routine as we have it now.

Conditions were definitely challenging, especially on Saturday and, for us, the 55mph gusts on Saturday were definitely the strongest winds we're ever encountered at a kite festival. But thanks to the efforts of Gill and Jon, there was at least an organised festival on Sunday, and all invited flyers simply did the best they could under the circumstances. There is talk of having "I flew at Portsmouth 2019" t-shirts printed ....

More pictures of the festival (most from Sunday, but some from Saturday) are here.

Picture credit of Flying Fish: Marian Linford (the fantastic picture of our V2s in a refuel!) and Franca Perletti