Sunday, 22 September 2013

Double Inner Space!

Gradually over the last year or so, we've built up a set of pairs of freestyle kites: Fury .85Cosmic TC UL and Mamba, to be used for pair-flying when we want to include some basic tricks. We have hinted before at getting a 2nd Inner Space for those days when there is virtually no wind.

Well, we bit the bullet and ordered a 2nd one from Tim!

To allow us to fly these kites when there's really no wind to speak of, we've been looking at very light lines. Climax Protec, which we normally use, doesn't go down below 25kg, Following a suggestion from someone at the Fractured Axel forum, we got some Berkley Whiplash Crystal fishing line, with a breaking strength of 20lb, and we made ourselves a set of 35m lines.

Of course, whenever you prepare for a completely windless day, it never arrives, so we had to have some patience before we could try out the kites on these lines. Today was that day (4mph could be considered a 'gust'), so we flew our pair of Inner Space kites on the very light lines. It worked really well! The lines do have a bit more stretch than Climax, but as the wind is so light, it doesn't really matter. We could fly the whole range of patterns and moves with these kites that we normally fly as a pair, including pretty sharp-ish corners. One thing though: do not, I repeat do not try to refuel .... the rubbing of dacron against these very thin lines melts them really quickly!

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know I always think about what music might fit a new set of kites. If we ever write a routine specifically for this pair of Inner Spaces, it needs to be very slow and flowy. How about Christine McVie's Songbird?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Double Bat!

In a previous blog post, introducing our Bat kite, I mentioned that we had another sail, which just needed framing to give us a second Bat. Well, if you've visited our Facebook page recently, you'll know that I indeed framed and bridled this second sail. Was fun, as I'd never build up an entire kite from scratch like that, but, given that I had all the spars, connectors, etc, it wasn't hard to do. So one thing remained to be done: fly it and see whether the two match in flight!

Given that the two kites only differed  in weight by 8 grams, it seemed that some small bridle tweaks would be enough to match their speed, and make them fly the same. Well, not quite .... we needed quite large differences in the bridle settings between the two to get them close to matching, but we couldn't quite get them to match. The self-framed kite remained just a tad slower than the original kite, and slowing the original kite down got to the point where its nose was so far back that it had difficulty launching.

To make a long story short, what finally clinched it was changing the stand-offs on the self-framed kite from 3mm to 2mm (original had 2.5mm), and shortening them slightly. What that did was make the sail a wee bit looser. This was really counter-intuitive to me. After framing, the sail of the self-framed kite was just a bit tighter than that of the original kite, and I would have thought that a tighter sail would mean higher speed as it would lose less energy than a looser sail. Clearly, I was wrong in that!

Anyway, they're flying well together now, and really really look cool in the sky!

They're pretty light kites, and seem most suitable for flying in lighter winds, say 5-10mph; I wouldn't want to fly them in winds much over 10mph.

So, coming to a flying field near you (maybe): one pair of Bat kites!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Routine plans

Our debut at Portsmouth Kite Festival was also our last flying at a festival for the year, so time to start looking ahead to the 2014 festival season. What are our plans in terms of routines?

First of all, our existing "Ruthless Queen" routine. We had been tweaking things a bit already since Malmesbury Kite Festival, and at Portsmouth we flew it with an improved (we think) thread and end sequence. And if you have been visiting our Facebook page lately, you may have seen that we're also playing with the start.

So that will give us our base routine for next year, but improved in a couple of places. However, we also want to have a bit more in our portfolio. And, again, if you have been visiting our Facebook page, you may have seen that we're now seriously working on a second routine, to the theme music of 'Jaws', and purely for our Fish and Shark kites. And in that routine, we want to try and include a wee bit of a story, with the Fish being chased by the Shark (will it be caught in the end???). We've been making real good progress with this routine, and no doubt it'll be ready for the 2014 festival season.

Which made us think we might try to start working on one more routine ... Our "Ruthless Queen" routine is basically flying with the music, using the music as backdrop. Ultimately we want to fly routines where the movement of the kites mirrors the music. The "Jaws" routine does that a tiny little bit in places, but not to any great extent. What we decided to do, in order to gain experience in flying specifically to the music, is use a routine that has already been choreographed to music, and which we found in a book by Ron Reich (of Top of the Line fame) on pair and team flying. The music is "Chariots of Fire", and the entire routine is given in the book, with time points throughout. Learning to fly this routine will give us experience in flying a routine precisely timed to music, no matter the speed of the kites, and that experience will then help us choreograph a routine to music from scratch in the future. I imagine that, certainly at the beginning, a lot of sticking in front of the computer will be involved!

So those are the routines we will be working on over the next half year or so. Maybe a bit ambitious, but we'll see how far we get by the spring of 2014.

Picture credit of us at Portsmouth: Roger Backhouse

Monday, 9 September 2013

STACK Fun Flying day

At Southampton Kite Festival, Keith Griffiths mentioned STACK planning a Fun Flying day or weekend, focused on pair- and team-flying, sometime later in the year. This took place yesterday at the Jolly-Up site near Cliddesden, and available for coaching was the full line-up of Team Flame. In total, nine people showed up (Team Flame, Flying Fish, and Peter, Luke, Peter and John).

The wind was coming and going, so we kept switching back and forth between flying North Shore Radicals and North Shore Konas, while the Team Flame guys mostly flew light and standard Furys (Furies?).

Day started off with flying basic patterns in teams of 3 and 4, supported by coaching from Barry, Fran and Tony. And then it was time for some serious fun ...

Fran started explaining a 5-kite move, which he called the 'Japanese move' or the 'Air-Rex manoeuvre' (as the Japanese Air-Rex team appears to have been the first team to fly this pattern). When he suggested to try and fly it, I thought "yeah, right ...". Difficult to explain on paper, but the key part of the move is one kite snap-stalling in the centre of the wind window, while 4 kites star-burst away from it, then race back, and snap-stall as well in a tight box pattern around the first (and still) stalled kite. And it worked after some practice! Then we moved on to a much more daring 6-kite manoeuvre, which basically involved a large and a small triangle of kites moving through each other. And 6 kites then became 7, as Barry decided to add another kite to the fun. We did pull off both the 6- and the 7-kite manoeuvre in the end, but not without having to sort out several major line tangles. And sorry for not having any pictures of those patterns, but watching your own kite, the kites you need to maintain position with, and the kites you need to avoid crashing into leaves little opportunity to also take pictures ...

Barry, Fran, Tony: thanks a lot for giving up your day. We were really knackered at the end, but we look forward to the next one!

Oh, and one more thing: after having tried out our new Quechua tent at Portsmouth and Bristol, and now again at this Fun Flying day, I can say it's a really good buy. Plenty of room for storing our stuff, and getting kites out of bags, and also a good shelter when it rains and you want to watch others fly in the rain, while staying dry yourself (;o). And we're getting much better at folding it up again at the end of the day!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Bristol Kite Festival

Bristol Kite Festival is often referred to as the best and the biggest in the UK, so shame on us for never having attended it! Last year, the organisers took a break, but this year it was back on again, so we took the opportunity to go see. Definitely not flying ourselves, so just chilling, watching, chatting and ground-crewing.

First up in terms of dual-line flying were Carl and James Robertshaw, who fly (or should I say 'flew'?) under the name Evolver. They didn't fly an official routine, but demonstrated the basics of dual-line (and quad-line) flying. So even if it wasn't an official Evolver performance, they still deserve a mention and a picture.

Officially on the programme was Team Spectrum who performed their usual show. Personally glad it included Carl's Chi Mai routine! By the way, Carl wasn't very lucky in his Barcelona routine: first he was interrupted by the PA mid-routine, and after re-starting, one of his lines broke in a strong gust ...

Flame, the reigning UK champions, flew several routines, and rather than post a photo, I'll link to a youtube video of their Two Tribes routine, as flown on Saturday, and made by Keith Griffiths (the video, that is; not the routine).

Josh Mitcheson flew his three kites, and this was the first time I've seen him fly three 'fire-tipped' T5s rather than the HQ Bebop Fire kites he normally flies. Much better kites, better performance!

Flying the Rev-flag were The Decorators in an 8-strong line-up; do they really need any more introduction?

Bristol was the last festival of the season for us, but we'll definitely be back in the coming years. More pictures, including some of the world's biggest kite, which just came off the ground, are here.