Sunday, 8 September 2019

UK National Championships 2019

The 2019 competition season was always going to be a transition year for us, and it indeed turned out to be just that, for several reasons.

The main transition is that we wanted to compete with an entirely new ballet. For our first two nationals, we flew our ballet 'with' music ('Ruthless Queen'). For the next three nationals, we flew 'to' music, using an existing choreography ('Chariots of Fire') that we tweaked and changed a bit. The obvious next step up would be to write our own choreography from scratch, to a shortened version of 'Eve of the War' from War of the Worlds. Writing a ballet from scratch turned out to be very challenging, and it took us much longer than we anticipated to complete it, and so we had less time to practice it than we hoped. Big question would obviously be whether the judges liked it in the first place ...

Only two rounds of the nationals this year, at Dunstable Downs on June 15 & 16, and at Pontefract Racecourse on August 31 & September 1. The weather at both rounds was far from ideal. Very strong blustery wind (with gusts of well above 20mph) and occasional sharp showers on each of the four days of competition .... not the best conditions to fly our new ballet, for sure!

Let me first quickly summarise what happened in the disciplines we did not compete in, before going into a bit more details on the disciplines we did compete it.

Multiline individual

Two entries in this discipline: Dan Hoath and Josh Mitcheson. Over the two rounds, scores were very close between them, and Dan grabbed the title with only 0.1% of a difference!

Multiline pair

Also two entries: Fracture (Josh and Ben Taylor, formally known as Wey Aye Quad) and The Flying Squad (Dan and Stephen Hoath). The Flying Squad took the title convincingly, with a fabulous ballet, full of content, using every possible aspect of the music, and with some humour thrown in for good measure. For me, and many others, by far the ballet of the championships.

Multiline team

A single entry: Fracture. No surprise that they retained the title they won under the name Wey Aye Quad last year.

Dual-line indie

Four entries: Fran Burstall, Josh, Cameron Blair (back into competition after a long absence) and Dan. Fran retained his title.

Dual-line pair

Four pairs competed for the dual-line pair title. Besides Flying Fish, these were Fracture (Josh and Dan, flying under the name Wey Aye last year), Twisted Bridle and Skytracks (only at Pontefract). Good to see two novice pairs enter!

We didn't deal with the strong blustery wind well, especially when flying our ballet, so Fracture deservedly took the title from us. Twisted Bridle, our sister pair, earned their first sport kite title in the 'battle of the novice pairs'.

Dual-line team

Up to a week before the Dunstable round, it looked as if Fracture (formerly known as Wey Aye) would be the only dual-line team this year. But then we decided to enter with L-katz.

Being a novice team, we had the right to drop either the technical routine or the figures; we chose to drop figures, for the simple reason that we had hardly practiced any of them. Fracture (flying as a 4-man team at Dunstable, and a 3-man at Pontefract) of course took the title, but I feel we can hold our heads up high about L-katz' performance; besides picking up the novice title, we even scored higher than Fracture in the technical routine at Pontefract! We clearly had less content than Fracture, but we flew it cleaner, and that helped us score higher (if only just).

First of all, congratulations to all 2019 champions, and especially to Dan for picking up five national titles!

I mentioned 2019 being a transition season due to our new ballet. It was also a transition season due to us being in the process of switching over to Impulse kites as our main competition kites. Our ballet at Pontefract was flown with full-vent Impulses, and, given that we only had flown them for 5-10 minutes prior, using them in a competition ballet may, in hindsight, not have been the wisest decision.

So where do we go next? What are we going to focus on? For Flying Fish, we really need to get better flying under power, especially with regard to landing and (half-)axeling. Having the autumn, winter and spring to work on that, getting more used to our Impulse kites at the same time, should put us in a better position come the competition season next year. We want to go over our technical routine, adding some difficulty, and removing parts that don't really do anything for our scores. As to our ballet, we really feel we haven't done it justice; there's a lot more in it that we just couldn't put in front of the judges when it counted. As we don't plan to write a new ballet, we have a lot of time to work on our current one, and tweak it a bit here and there. Aim is obviously to take the title back from Fracture!

For L-katz, we need to start practicing figures, of course; next year, we'll be in the Experienced Class after all. Some changes to our technical routine, for sure. And as to our team ballet, we have the beginning of a fully choreographed team ballet, which we started during a team boot camp back in March. Hopefully, we'll be able to complete that in time, but I'm well aware how long writing a ballet can take. Aim is to improve significantly; we're under no illusion regarding any title!

Full results are available here. Even though we lost our dual-line pair title, we're still ranked #1 in the UK. And L-katz now also have a UK ranking: #4.

picture credits: Helen Ribchester

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