Thursday 14 September 2023

North Shore Radicals

Top of the Line North Shore Radicals are the classic team kites, and they have several world championships under their belt. In the past, I've already posted on several other Top of the Line kites in our quiver, namely Hawaiians and Spin-Offs. What about the classic NSRs?

The first North Shores we got were these 'rainbows':

These are not original Top of the Line North Shores; they were made and marketed by a US kite shop, Cutting Edge Kites (the shop doesn't appear to exist anymore). They have modern spars and fittings, but the sails are sewn by Pam Kirk, who was one of the people sewing the original Top of the Line sails. So they do have some original North Shore Radical 'DNA' in them!

They handle and fly pretty much like original Top of the Line North Shores, including the famous NSR roar!

Going off at a bit of a tangent, what we also have in our quiver is this "Weston Shore Radical". Based on an NSR, it was made years ago by a kite friend, who passed away, for another kite friend, who also passed away recently. The kite ended up with us, and has special meaning, as you will probably understand. The reason behind the name, by the way, is that they often flew at Weston Shore in Southampton.

Staying with home-made kites based on a North Shore Radical, we have a set of four of these 'Point-Nine Shores'. Made by Josh Mitcheson, they are basically 90% scaled down versions of a North Shore. We have this set of four (pictures show three, but we have four) to allow us to give interested people a taste of pair/team-flying. Due to their reduced size, they pull less than a classical North Shore Radical (thus making it easier to handle for people new to team-flying), but still make some noise!

None of the kites above are original Top of the Line NSRs, of course, so what about those? First of all, we have, on loan from STACK, a set of six North Shores (i.e. three pairs), previously flown by the Punchline team.

A pair of North Shore Konas:

A pair of North Shore Radicals:

And a pair of North Shore VIPs:

Twisted Bridle, our sister pair in L-katz, also have three pairs of NSRs on loan (which used to be flown by Airkraft), allowing us to fly North Shores with the team; imagine the noise!!

So that was the situation until quite recently, when we were basically given two different batches of team kites. Together, these batches contained four Top of the Line North Shores, plus an original sail. The sail was a 'neon' R-20 sail, which I really liked. Given that one of the North Shores in the batch had the same colour pattern as one of our modern Cutting Edge kites, I decided to swap the sails.

The frame of this kite is not original; the spars are thinner and lighter than normal.

The kite flies absolutely fine, and feels and sounds as a North Shore Radical should, but best to consider it a unique 'light' Radical (the sail is not a Kona sail, so I'm not calling it a Kona).

The neon stripes look fantastic when the sun hits them!

Both recent batches of kites included a North Shore VIP, and, purely by chance, these two kites had the same sail: black with single rainbow stripes (V-15).

They flew together perfectly matched from the word go, without any need for bridle tweaking! Quite possibly, the previous owners never changed the bridles from their factory setting. 

Indulge me, North Shores are always fun to refuel ...

The final North Shore Radical from those two recent batches has an R-13 reverse sail.

Unlike the 'neon' NSR, which I'm happy with flying on its own (especially given the lighter frame), I very much would like to find this R-13 reverse NSR a fitting flying partner. An obvious good match would be an R-13 like this one (picture credit: Bill Lancashire):

Fingers crossed I'll be able to get my hands on one!!

Monday 11 September 2023

Gonks go a-flying!

Lisa, one of the members of our L-katz team, made these adorable gonks for us, in team colours!

Let's follow them on their first kite-flying adventure.

Ready to fly ...

... and launch!

Trying some follows and infinities. 

That didn't go half-bad, did it?

I think they did amazingly well. Never having flown a dual-line kite before, they managed to fly as a pair, executing simple patterns. All that in their very first kite-flying session!

But .... there is more! As there are two more gonks, they can fly in a 4-gonk team as well!!

Watch this space ...

Credit for gonks and the first and last gonk pictures: Lisa Daubney

Saturday 9 September 2023

Double Hellcats!

Hellcat kites were made by Peter Hall in the 1990s. This particular one is an ultralight which used to belong to a dear friend of ours. After he passed away something like two years ago, his entire kite quiver came to us ... Our friend used 'Hellcat' as his name on kite fora, so whenever we fly this kite, we are reminded of him. 

The kite has a wing span of around 1.70 meter, and is a really nice kite to fly in very low winds. 

Hellcats aren't exactly common kites, so when the opportunity of getting my hands on another ultralight Hellcat presented itself, I didn't hesitate for very long ... especially as it was orange/blue, so matched the orange/black one we had pretty well. 

Here are the two Hellcats side by side at home just after the 'blue' Hellcat arrived. 

So now it was waiting for a day with very little wind, which came soon enough.

Ultralight Hellcats really don't need much wind to fly; 2-3mph and they're quite happy. As you might expect from such a small kite, they're quite twitchy.

Time to fly the two Hellcats together!

Clearly, they're not team kites (they're not designed to be), but it was nice to fly them together, and be reminded of our friend like that. 

Some of his ashes were scattered around the bench we normally use as our base on our regular flying field, so it felt only appropriate to take a picture of the two Hellcats there. 

Rog, you'll never be forgotten.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Portsmouth Kite Festival

With the kite festivals at Seal Bay, Brighton and Bognor cancelled, Portsmouth was our first and last two-day festival this year. 

Weatherwise, it was a festival of two halves. Saturday was sunny with a brisk wind, which gradually increased over the day up to about 23mph. Sunday was overcast, with occasional rain or drizzle, and variable wind, from 11-30+mph.

As always in my festival blog posts, the focus is on sport kite pairs and teams. Let's do the quad teams first.

The Decorators were present with a 6-man line-up and flew their usual solid displays, whatever the wind threw at them.

Do have a close look at the line-up, though .... Chris Goff had joined the team for the weekend!

It was good to see The Flying Squad back at a festival again; it has been a while since I heard 'Hindi Diamonds'!

The BercKite Team from France had their debut at Portsmouth.

And the same went for The Quad Mob, a new UK team, who flew on Sunday only.

It was really interesting to see four quad-line teams having very different styles of flying and interpreting music.

From quad-line teams to a quadline pair: Guido and Luca Maiocchi (M&Ms) from Italy. Excellent displays with their 'emmenthaler cheese' quads!

So on to dual line pairs and teams!

Fenix Pair is half Dutch (Ingeborg Aarts), half Belgian (Stephan Fiers), and they have flown at Portsmouth before a number of years ago. Nice flowing routines, flying vented L'Atelier Avatar kites.

Fracture attended with a 3-man line-up, Matt Constable having joined the team recently. Using vented Fury kites, they have a much more aggressive style of flying, which suited the strong winds.

And then Flying Fish, of course! We flew our Airdynamics T5 V2 kites throughout the weekend, adapting them to the prevailing winds with the use of patches and brakes. Saturday saw us fly wearing our new outfits for the first time at a kite festival!

On Sunday, we flew our first slot with all patches on, as the wind had dropped a bit.

Both Fenix Pair and Fracture flew their routines before our second slot of the day, when the wind had really picked up. and their Avatar and Fury kites really streaked across the sky. Warned by that, we added back brakes, and that really made the kites very easy to handle. I do think our second Sunday slot, in the strongest wind, was actually our best one of the festival.

Like with the quad-line teams, the dual-line pairs/team showed clear differences in style, Fenix Pair and Flying Fish more similar to each other than to Fracture.

Of course, Portsmouth wouldn't be Portsmouth without mega-teams!

The quad-line mega-team brought together 29 quad flyers!

For the dual-line mega-team (on Saturday only), Fracture, Fenix Pair, Flying Fish and the Flying Squad joined together. A veritable F-team! Four pairs/teams meant four different kites: Furies, Avatars, T5s and North Shore Radicals, and not all flew on similar line lengths. To say the kites weren't fully matched is a bit of an understatement (especially the North Shores flew much faster than the others) and in the strong wind, that resulted in a crazy hectic mega-team! We did survive without major mishaps, though.

Several more pics of the festival, including some of the single-line kites, are here. But I do want to highlight one individual sport kite performance. Carl Robertshaw flew a moving tribute to Sinead O'Connor, flying his Fulcrum quad to her 'Troy'.

Picture credits: Franca Perletti (Flying Fish), Helen Ribchester (Fenix Pair, Flying Fish, dual-line mega-team), Chris Matheson (dual-line mega-team), Barry Savell (dual-line mega-team)