Posted by Felix Mottram, 26 December 2011 18 views
A quiet last fly in 2011. Full vented with green race rods handled the occasional stronger gusts just fine. In the lulls moving on the ground was not too energetic.
One year we rotated face to face pairs in the arena at Berck. Not something to be taken lightly in a formal demonstration. Today we tried the 'not touching' version rolling across the window. Sliding transitions are 'a state of mind' rather than explicit control. The flier has to see the picture and demand that the kite complies! <grins>
The sun shone briefly soon after midday and then it was back to 'Hokkaido Highway Blues' in the afternoon prior to the second holiday roast with all the trimmings!
Posted by Felix Mottram, 18 December 2011 8 views
The forecast sunny day did not materialise after a large 'shower cloud' drifted across London, north of the river in the main, mid morning.
Switched from Vented Race to Full Sail Race and back to Vented Race as the peripheral affects of the shower passed through.
With four fliers plan A and even plan B got a look in as well as some free form flying which at one point evolved into a very good rendition of the rolling ball. The leading kite has to be the one rotating down to LE down from the vertical. Everyone else has to transition accordingly. <grins>
Boxing Day may be a low key day (I'll be there) but New Years Day should see a few more of us on the Heath again.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 11 December 2011 38 views
Grey day with lowering cloud base did not turn to rain in the short time on the Heath today.
Vented with 3 wrap or Race just about coped with the higher gusts. Mostly long arm treacle style individual flying for me but we did find an opposing infinity, by chance, which looks as if it could be very effective in a large team configuration. It's the kind of move that, I think, translates into the grid with very little effort once the idea is in place...
One more weekend before the holiday period and then the 'serious' event planning starts again. <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 04 December 2011 11 views
Standard vented 1.5B with 4 wrap spars (mostly) again today but not quite at the marginal level of last weekend.
There was a very high base layer of cloud cover and in the SW breeze we had a clear view of the NE London circling stack of planes waiting to approach Heathrow.
For the first time this autumn gloves were a good idea if not actually essential!
Four fliers today, some called routines and some excellent free form flying.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 27 November 2011 7 views
The forecast was for a slight front clearing to the south east at the beginning of the day. At 9:00am it was grey and wet but within a short time the cloud cover began to break up and by 10:00 driving towards Blackheath past the Olympic stadium the sun was dazzling!
A further bank of cloud with a few spots of rain cleared to an almost completely blue sky but with a serious leaf blowing breeze we were at the comfortable limit of the standard vented 1.5 with 4 wrap spars. If we all had the Mega Vented kites that would have been the sensible option but we stuck with the kites in hand and flew 'Plan A' a number of times.
'London Pete' turned up with his vented 1.5B and it checked out just fine especially once the bungees were adjusted. It is always interesting to switch to different line lengths and flying his 1.5B on 80 ft was a complete contrast to flying Maggie's Vented 2B on 120 ft. <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 20 November 2011 10 views
Hmmm! Twenty Eleven Twenty Eleven....
The fog did not lift while I was on site today. The sun almost broke through on a couple of occasions but the church and the other local buildings only appeared occasionally as flat grey shapes. The A2 was mostly out of sight. Flying in cotton wool with only 1mph gets disorientating and with no feedback down the lines kites inevitably fall off the edge.
The Zens (Race Framed) worked well even if the lines 'glued' in the wet atmosphere. The real surprise was the CR kite with race frame. 'More brake' after last weekend revealed a great configuration which felt 'crisp' even in the very light air. Looking at the bridle (Rev 1) compared to the Zen it is very interesting how much difference can be achieved in the handling characteristics even if the sails are a very similar area.* All the more reason to check out Carl's bridle configuration in due course.
*The kites were very wet and so, somewhat unusually, taken out of the bags and set up to dry out at home providing the opportunity to check the sail area/geometry.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 13 November 2011 9 views
A glorious sunny November day. It was not actually much warmer than last weekend but it certainly felt it. Light breezes so full 1.5 with race rods. Four fliers switched between 'free form' and 'called' with 'Plan A' getting a couple of runs through. The 'free form' is developing into something like the 'no cut' fighter kite set-up. Fly close but avoid actual impact. The group migrated across the sky on several occasions and certainly attracted the attention of passers by. We had applause from a distance a number of times.
We flew 'arcs' as noted in a graphical routine posted recently. We found that there was a simple transition from 'two pairs' to 'fours' which can be repeated like an 'infinity'. With a little fine tuning it will be a great holding move. It will be interesting to try the transitions from twos to threes and fours.
I had a new kite to fly today.* The Carl Robertshaw sail arrived yesterday! I spared it with a four wrap centre and three wraps the rest. At this stage it has the 'standard' bridle but it certainly felt different to the regular Rev 1 sail. Long arm 'fast forward' seemed to work very well. It will be interesting to add further brake to this kite as the supplied pigtails on the clip less handles were at the maximum setting... <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 06 November 2011 10 views
A grey November day, and chilly in the NE breeze even if 12 degrees centigrade is warm compared seasonal averages... Green Race in vented sails again! Being aware that the kites were occasionally over powered in flight we noticed how much flex we were seeing in the spars when attempting ground work. It was difficult to keep the kites still.
The Rev 2 B Vented with Race Rods showed no spar flex by comparison and was very light, in pull, on 80ft lines.
A lazy team fly again today with no calls; close flying turns providing plenty of potential for composing manoeuvres although much of what occurred would be challenging to repeat. I flew a constant 'diagonal square turned infinity' for some time and watched to see how the other kites interacted. I would be interested to see how this could be integrated into a routine.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 30 October 2011 7 views
The trees in Greenwich park have turned colour since last week. Blink and you miss the autumnal moment.
Green Race with full vented today. Occasionally over powered but mostly on the comfortable side with arms down and handles horizontal pulling the turns as necessary and holding altitude. I am still amazed at how much input is possible with long arms in 'slow' flying. The angle of the sail is so critical..
A lazy day in team terms. Only three so finding the gap in the middle of random flying was my game plan with the occasional lapse into piano scale moves.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 23 October 2011 9 views
The team kites have been washed and aired thanks to one of the younger members of the the team. There is still sand in the kite bags though! Seems like it is there by default.
Breezy on Blackheath today starting with vented and Green Race Rods but eventually switched to 4 wrap. Could have flown the Mega Vented which would have spared the aching shoulders.
I'm enjoying getting 'tuned in' to a wind speed with a given kite and using the 'long arm' movements to 'pin' the kite for turns and speed, especially when flying slowly. Today I spent some time flying a V shape with a 90 degree turn low down and inward or outward 180 turns at the top of the window. Hitting the diagonals precisely, 'rail track like', out of turns is particularly satisfying. <grins> (piano scales...)
Posted by Felix Mottram, 16 October 2011 10 views
Another sunny Sunday. From 10:30am it was a Zen breeze until a residual weather front approached about two hours later.
We were four fliers and occasionally fell into team order.
Steve (goestoeleven) joined us when we had switched from Zen to 1.5... Steve had obviously enjoyed plenty of flying time since the last time he joined us on Blackheath. We flew ad-hoc and then some called moves. 'Pendulums' and 'rolling balls' were flown.
When we were packing up a local person approached us and explained that she had 'almost crashed her car' having been distracted by watching our kites...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 09 October 2011 5 views
The temperature is still not normal in London but not as hot as last weekend.
Full vented with Race just about held up today in the lulls but were sometimes over powered. I'm going to tie some new leaders with close 'figure eight' knots as an Autumn project as I need some extra brake points.
Four fliers today repeatedly 'rolled' the ball quite effectively. We also addressed rotating the 4 flier face in stack, rotating it through 180 degrees... That was fun!
Attached is an image from last Sunday. Thanks Maggie...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 02 October 2011 6 views
Back to Blackheath today but obviously conditions were a little unusual for October with the thermometer at 29 degrees Celcius! I left the Heath at about 1:00pm to seek shelter from the sun.
Stephen Versteegh has proposed Scheveningen as a Mega Team event for 2012 which is very exciting. I hope that everyone will be able to commit...
Today was almost a 3 kite day - I started with 1.5 SUL (Ex iQuad) as I did not have the Zen in the bag. Subsequently Zen and then the Race 2. I'm more convinced now that the Zen suits our Rev 1 flying style with the stiffer/heavier frame set that we have been using by default. Next time out I will try the Race centre but I am sure that I did not find it comfortable the first time out. I must try Carl's kite on my own handles sometime to get a feel for the larger sail and alternative bridle...
By the time I left the Heath today the wind was overpowering the 1.5 sail with SUL rods. The Zens had been put away sometime earlier...
25/09/2011 after Margate
Posted by Felix Mottram, 25 September 2011 11 views
Margate proved that sometimes the sun can shine on the last weekend in September. We had two glorious days...
The forecast southerly breeze arrived on Saturday morning after a brief time when the 'land sea breeze' (northerly) had the upper hand. A good day followed, albeit somewhat turbulent. We were using the Rev 1 sails and our standard 3 wrap spars with a 4 wrap centre.
Imagina performed on Saturday and Sunday and I think that I will be able to put some video from Saturday on You Tube at some point.
On Sunday the southerly breeze was established when we set up at 10:00am. Later in the day there was a gradual increase in wind speed and we switched to the 1.5s with 3 wrap spars.
19/09/2011 after Scheveningen
Posted by Felix Mottram, 19 September 2011 5 views
It was a very good weekend despite showers on Saturday and Sunday morning. 1.5 Vented sails were all we used, swapping from Race to 4 wrap on Saturday later in the afternoon. Race rods on Sunday!
On Sunday afternoon the breeze which had been slightly offshore rather than along the beach gently swung through about 90 degrees to a steady onshore which lasted until the end of the event. This provided probably the best flying conditions we have experienced this year and Jacob called a great routine to Miles Davis 'Tutu' followed by a final Beatles 'Come Together'.
We carried on flying outside the arena for quite some time after the arena spot before taking a break before the final Super Sixteen which also proved to be a highlight of the event, if not the year.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 11 September 2011 13 views
Vented 1.5s with 4 wrap in gradually strengthening SW breezes today. We had a visit from a scout for 'Britain's Got Talent' and suggested that a Mega Fly might be a contender. I did mention the 100 number and explained the logistical issues. (NB I am aware that we do not have 100 UK fliers anyway!)
On a more practical level we tried a 'dice 5 block' doing 'quarter turn stepped infinities' which is something I would like to see done 'in grid'. We brought the kites as closely together as was practical and then ramped up the turn interval...
Scheveningen (17-18/09/2011) looks set to be an interesting Rev Event this year given the scheduled 16 flier Mega-Team. Stephen Versteegh has told me that we should expect to work hard! I'm very much looking forward to that event and also our return to Margate the following week which will conclude events for 2011.
Somewhere along the way we have now done 200 festival events. Last weekend was the 25th Bristol event. The Decs were there for 21 of them. I missed the 2006 one...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 04 September 2011 13 views
Another great weekend. The weather held* and the crowds turned up to the 25th Bristol event. The Decs have, I think, attended 21 times as a team. I missed the 2006 one!
With the Olympics taking place next year in the UK the Bristol Kite event is will not occur in 2012. I do hope that it will go ahead in 2013!
*We used Rev1, Rev1.5 and Vented1.5 during the course of the weekend <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 29 August 2011 16 views
A great weekend in Portsmouth even if the promised arena boundaries never arrived and the PA was only 'fully' operational on Sunday thanks to the efforts of Jon and Gill.
The 2pm Mega Fly on Sunday drew the crowds and did not 'interrupt' the main arena events especially after the 'prolonged' shower had curtailed the time available. The 'mini mega' team format in the main arena also seemed to work very well.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 21 August 2011 20 views
Lighter breezes today full 1.5 sail with Race Rods. I had been worried that the tracking moves that I had been working on with the vented kites over the last couple of weeks would not translate back onto the full sail but today I found that everything worked just fine.* Taking it onto the team kites without the JB panelled sail structure will be the next step.
(*Reading back, I find, that of course I had been using the full JB sail on the last weekend in July on the same project!)
Portsmouth next weekend could be interesting or not depending on the willingness of the fliers to get involved outside of their normal comfort zone. I am hoping to see some development of the 'moving grid' as we flew 16 in Long Beach last year and more recently 9 at Sunderland. It would be great to see this at 36 kites...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 14 August 2011 16 views
Vented 1.5 with green race today for me. Warmer than last weekend but still the occasional dark grey cloud passing low. No rain or thunder risk today...
Ad hoc flying mostly avoiding anything that looked like a follow. With only three kites today we saw some drifting cogs and rotations. Some of those rotating moves can be executed quite passively as others have noted in the Cartwheel thread. You just go with the flow...
I am looking forwards to the Portsmouth event still hoping that we can hit 48 and do some new moves in the grid anyway.
Just raided the loft for auction items for the Portsmouth and Bristol events. Unearthed some Decs kit that does not look like it was ever flown. Not Revs though!
Posted by Felix Mottram, 07 August 2011 12 views
Bright and breezy start so full vented and 4 wrap.
Applying 'light wind technique' to flying the vented kites has been my objective for some time now and today was another opportunity to test the concept further. From a practical point of view my 'test' is to fly the kite as slowly as is possible without ending up with 'tired' muscles due to 'hanging on' to the handles. Plenty of brake for starters and then a 'ready to move' stance, one foot a stride forwards, arms down at side, handles horizontal. Switching the leading foot is trivial, finding the point to swing the arms, less so, but out at the edge of the wind window there is opportunity for plenty of input to maintain direction and speed. In the centre of the window initiating and completing turns can be accomplished without changing angle of attack with the L/R handles. Here I am mostly intent on wing-tip turns with a precise exit point after the turn.
An approaching cloud ended the session today as once again there was a possibility of thundery conditions. The rain started just before we reached the cars and it was those big ice cold drops that had travelled from a high altitude.
Just moments after posting there was a peal of thunder from another passing shower. Be careful everyone!
Posted by Felix Mottram, 31 July 2011 21 views
We learned that Knokke-Heist would not go ahead, for us, mid-week.
Today was a typical summer's day on Blackheath which is now turning a more seasonal brown rather than the recent lush green after a mostly wet June and July.
Breezes were light and variable often dropping off completely. The direction was switching c180 degrees over a short time frame as well. It was not quite a Zen breeze so full sail 1.5 with normal race rods seemed about right.
Following on from last week I was concentrating on articulating straight line flying before and after a 45 or 90 degree 'crisp' (wing tip) turn all at a constant speed. In the variable conditions this required a lot of arm and groundwork.
We discussed how to learn to avoid pulling the handles in to the chest by developing muscle memory. This basically comes down to playing those scales over and over again especially in light conditions. In more consistent breezes using a kite with more venting than strictly necessary could have the same learning effect making the flier work a little harder to achieve the desired line. As ever, the solo flier will never have to make the extra effort to match fellow team flier's trajectories...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 24 July 2011 12 views
Martin was on the field early and had done three changes of spars in the 1.5 full vented by the time I arrived. So it was full vented and green race for the second weekend running. Today was lighter than last weekend with no threat of thundery showers. The breeze dropped off completely on occasions.
For most of the time we flew 'free form' hitting the interaction points to a silent accompaniment. The swifts do it well as I mentioned a while back. I was drilling a 'counted turn' pattern which very much relied on a full pull back for upward LE horizontal moves. Handles horizontal, full forward pulled from outstretched arms forwards back past the thighs <grins>
Eventually we fell in to some team moves called by Ashley with some crisp execution by all until the breeze dropped once again.
We're still hoping to go to Knokke-Heist in Belgium 20-21st August but will only know coming Wednesday 27th July if the event is actually going ahead.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 17 July 2011 47 views
It was Johnny Claffey's 50th birthday party celebration last night and while I had not expected him to be out flying kites today I had not anticipated that I would be the only one from the team to turn up at Dunstable c10:00am for a casual attendance at the two day event.
At Long Beach last year it was apparent that most of the fliers were in possession of all the JB Sails and they quickly took the 'mid vent' option in intermediate conditions. At Dunstable today almost all of the fliers made the same choice. I do not know if they were all using race rods but TFS certainly were during the morning session.
I opted for the full vented kite with green race rods which felt comfortable in drilling long arm turns and traverses. I was particularly conscious of the long pull back needed for a vertical flight with the LE horizontal. No deck chair option here!
Leaving the event soon after 2:45pm I saw lightning over London in one of the passing showers.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 10 July 2011 34 views
It was another light wind day on Blackheath. There was enough to keep the full sail 1.5s with Race frames moving most of the time for individual flight.
In team we slipped into parallel passes in a block form expanding and contracting the square of four fliers following last weekends grid fly. We did not try rolling the ball today. That is an exercise that needs a steady breeze. Some freestyle cogged rotations led to some interesting tangles that were unwrapped successfully in flight.
A run through of 'Plan A' rounded things off with the observation that one flier was getting into trouble with hands high in the air. Symptom or cause? Moving on the ground sometimes has to be quite radical in team flying in order to keep things neat in the sky especially in marginal conditions.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 03 July 2011 77 views
Well it really was sunny Sunderland, especially Sunday. Light and variable breezes through the weekend with occasional lulls to very little indeed. (Somewhat different to conditions last year!)
However, some of Fusion and some of The Decs put together a couple of 'small grid' performances to round off the event on both days. Given the light breezes the 9 person 'moving grid' proved to be the way to keep things together with the 'expanding and contracting grid' in horizontal transit a notable success. Both teams performed their arena presentations as well.
The Decs first attended the Washington (Tyne and Wear/Sunderland) event in 1989 and have returned a dozen or so times since then. (I was there in 1987, I think, before the team was formed)
Posted by Felix Mottram, 26 June 2011 73 views
The forecast came good and shortly after 10:00am I arrived on Blackheath to find a 'full on' UK Summer's Day.
Not much wind, that is, and the slight breezes shifting quickly through 180 degrees and more.
It was great to get the Zens out and lock in to the 'treacle interval' some of the time. 'Flailing' in slow motion to accommodate the size of the kite is just so 'cool'.
I was conscious of the 'three finger tips' on the handles 'no grip' with the thumb nail and small finger nail occasionally in opposition to the fingers. Every opportunity to drop the handles. <grins>
No doubt it will be back to earth next weekend in Sunderland but we will be prepared...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 19 June 2011 92 views
Second short weekend (working 9:30-1:30 Saturday) so looking forward to a proper weekend next week prior to the Sunderland event.
The 'westerly' c15mph breeze on Blackheath was relatively clean today but still shifting c30 degrees in direction and proportionally in strength. Full vented and 4 wrap was the order of the day.
After the rain and bluster of the last few weeks we did not fly 'in team' as such today but I did notice some fairly wicked passing moves where the individual kites are finding the spaces and recognising the trajectories of others in close proximity. The ability of the fliers to 'stop' precisely in any orientation 'if needs be' is a key issue here.
My 'piano scales' today focused on the 'holding stress/release' of arms straight down and engaging this stance with basic kite turns. <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 12 June 2011 101 views
The forecast seen last Sunday was correct. It was wet on Blackheath today meaning that since returning from Cervia it has been blustery or wet every Sunday. Seems like we had Summer back before Easter...
At least it was not too windy at c10:30am to put up full 1.5 sails with Race Rods but not much more than an hour later the decision was not to get another sail wet in the increasing breeze but to call it a day.
We (four fliers) rolled the 'ball' without calling LE edge out and LE edge in and it appeared that the reflexes are becoming more automatic with everyone watching the shape and responding accordingly. The fact that the pathways for individual kites are not 'linear' makes for a fascinating manoeuvre. <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 05 June 2011 120 views
A slight respite today, 1.5 Standard Vented 4 wrap was good for a late 11:00am start but thickening high cloud turned to rain early in the afternoon.
The current forecast is for rain next Sunday as well, maybe making up for the drought, this Spring, in SE England. I will take the wet weather gear, just to be sure...
Just before leaving Blackheath today we discussed some aspects of 'long arm' flying, using arms, shoulders and torso as well as moving on the ground to 'throw' the kite around the sky and achieve absolutely 'rigid' stops 'at any angle in the sky'. Light wind techniques translate directly into middle and high wind conditions providing that 'brake' settings are appropriate.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 29 May 2011 81 views
Blustery... the needle is stuck! I remember Bart complaining about local conditions in Canada but thankfully a more seasonal anticyclonic system will be back in place over the UK by next weekend. No doubt the Exmouth contingent will have a good time with my iQuad kite sets in the lighter conditions.
Today on Blackheath we saw an 'uncalled' LE edge 'up' stack which was very cool along with some very good improvised space occupation, again obviously, not called. On the called side 'counter rotations' and asymmetric 180's featured along with some stepped spokes.
Full vented with '4 wrap' in the main but I switched from Mega Vent '4 wrap' to 'green race' which was interesting. The relationship between weight and flex seems to be a bit crucial especially in marginal conditions at either end of the wind speed spectrum <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 22 May 2011 79 views
Another blustery day but no question about framing. Four wrap super vented was OK but flying alongside 4 wrap standard vented it was clear that conditions were marginal. Last year at Washington/Sunderland and Margate we experienced summertime conditions where the only viable kites were the ones that we were flying. The SLKs could not cope with English summer weather...
I do not feel comfortable when equipment and fliers are being tested to their limits and so was glad today that we did not prolong the exercise and wrapped shortly after midday. The carefully measured and pre-stretched line sets that DE recently prepared should be reserved for more ideal conditions.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 15 May 2011 54 views
It was Lee Sedgwick who suggested that we tighten the bungees back in c1990. 'More brakes' was a consensus which arrived very early on. Hovering horizontally with the leading edge up should never be easy... <grins>
Today on Blackheath the breeze was variable in that confounding inland summer way. Vented 4 wrap one minute, full sail race the next. (Not as bad, though, as Sunderland/Washington last summer where the extremes were unbelievable)
I had a lucky break today just when it really didn't matter. The top pigtail broke at the kite side of the 'clipless' handle. The other handle's pigtail did not show any obvious sign of stress but I replaced it as well anyway. I think that I will tie some sleeved kevlar with shorter steps soon...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 08 May 2011 43 views
After the relative calm of Berck and Cervia it was a blustery day on Blackheath to the extent that the Revolution Mega Vent had an airing with the 4 wrap frame.
Earlier the standard JB vented 1.5 4 wrap frame had proved to be a bit of an arm aching handful in 'arm straight down' mode.
Steve from Chicago found his way to Blackheath from his Hotel on Hackney Road. We looked at the configuration of his JB Vented 1.5 with 3 wrap frame and suggested some adjustments. The 4 wrap frame would probably have assisted in making the kite more manageable but obviously when travelling it may not always be possible to cover all the bases.
I hope to have an update on Portsmouth in the next few days...
02/05/2011 After Cervia
Posted by Felix Mottram, 02 May 2011 36 views
A great week in Cervia following on from Berck. Two weeks of intensive kite flying has been a great start to the year.
Mostly light breezes in Cervia, apart from the first evening we were there, the vented kites were not used. The Zens helped us keep kites in the air, particularly on the final day!
The team first visited Cervia in 1997 following up in 1999, 2000 and 2010. It is a great event with a specific focus on the 'creative' side of kiting.
25/04/2011 After Berck
Posted by Felix Mottram, 25 April 2011 32 views
A great week in Berck with mostly light breezes except for the final day, Monday 25th April, when the vented kites came out of the bag for the first time at c9:00am and we stayed with them until leaving the field finally at about 3:30pm. (OK there was a short break for lunch <grins>)
I just checked, in so far as I can, and it looks like the team have attended the festival 16 times since 1990. I do not know why we missed the other years!
Off to Cervia in the morning so will probably be off-line for most of the week...
17/04/2011 Victoria Park
Posted by Felix Mottram, 17 April 2011 238 views
The London Marathon takes over our usual pitch at Blackheath so a few of us met at the cricket field area at the eastern end of Victoria Park just the other side of the Motorway from the 2012 Olympic Stadium.
At the start there was hardly any perceptible breeze so it was Zens with Race and a Rev1 with Zen spars. Most of the time any wind movement was shifting continuously so the simple objective was to keep the kite in the air in order to avoid being at the wrong end of a 180 degree shift. The higher the kite is the easier it is to adapt to direction changes but at the top of the window, vertical, occasionally today, there is always the danger of falling off. Catch and throw does not, however, work in very light breezes on 120ft lines...
Walking forwards in minimal air movement can be interesting in that the Zen seems to be good at gliding and with full reverse on the handles it is possible to move a very long way 'downwind' in a very low wind.
In the last three weeks spring has really arrived as in the attached image from Victoria Park today.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 10 April 2011 288 views
A quiet day on Blackheath in terms of the number of fliers and an easterly breeze that was a little above that was forecast earlier in the week. There was an opportunity for me to check lines and casually compare kites and spars. Today the full sail 1.5 JB Pro with green race rod against the mid vented version with standard race rods. Too many variables, I know, especially when longer handles were in the equation as well, but sometimes it is best not to be too serious.
Some journeys take on an iconic status and Calais to Berck is one such especially since the opening of the Peage A16/E402 with its sweeping viaducts over the chalk valleys just beyond Boulogne-sur-Mer. Too bad that the outward journey will be after nightfall this year.
It will be great to visit L'Albatros in Berck again and this year some of the team, at least, will be staying in the centre of town... just over a week away!
Arrangements for the trip to Cervia the following week are almost complete and we should expect a proper taste of summer weather on the Adriatic Sea as opposed to the teasing conditions in the UK over the last few days.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 03 April 2011 311 views
After a late start last weekend due to the start of summertime we did better today and were rewarded with mild and sunny conditions with plenty of evidence of the greening of the trees in Greenwich Park.
Standard 1.5 Sails with race rods, to start with (four fliers), and, for us (The Decs that is), the almost complete novelty of flying to music when not 'at a formal festival'. OK, it was only from a mobile phone in my pocket but it seemed fairly radical at the time.
As conditions were on the light side, breeze wise, we checked out the Team Rev1 (red and green sails, Italian set) Kites and found that one notch on the brakes basically gave us a viable setting as compared to the 1.5 sails. The turning interval is an issue as well as flier familiarity but we were happy with the run-through of one of the team's 'choreographed' routines.
Some ladder up/down sequences helped re-establish familiarity with the turning interval issues.
Only 'so-many' 'get-ups' before the Berck/Cervia events...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 27 March 2011 305 views
Summertime started today so it was an 11:00am start on Blackheath with the first green tinge evident on some of the trees beyond the wall of Greenwich Park.
High hazy cloud gave a 'summery' look to the scene but the easterly wind was not exactly warm. It was race rods and full 1.5 sails again. Some consideration in flying planning was given to the line-up of the team for the first three days of Berck which will not be one we have flown before. All being well we will have four fliers for Tuesday to Thursday and eight for Friday to Monday. Some of us will be going on to Cervia so it will be a continuous two weeks of 'flying'. What a treat? <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 20 March 2011 118 views
10:00am start and the first Spring weather fly with a light south westerly breeze and some warming high cloud broken sunshine.
1.5 full sails with race rods were only occasionally stressed or left without direction. The fliers were taking the lazy option as no one could be bothered to call so mostly random flying followed by some silent following. Some interesting close proximity moves may inspire 'designed' moves eventually but on the day it was great to simply share the sky.
Four weeks now until the Berck/Cervia marathon so 'relaxed' flying is completely appropriate for the time being!
Posted by Felix Mottram, 13 March 2011 110 views
Murky grey start c10:30am gradually resolved into a short spell of rain followed by a lifting cloud base and a moment of spring sunshine.
A smooth light breeze so full sails with race rods, plenty of random flying before we fell in to a couple of runs through 'Plan A' the first of which was attempted without familiar team order. That is always a challenge.
Home to replace failing rear derailleur cable on the bicycle; a simple procedure in the light of things. (Noticing that it was failing is the key thing! <grins>)
Posted by Felix Mottram, 06 March 2011 62 views
Only an occasional glimmer of sunshine through chilly North Sea blown anticyclonic cloud cover today. The sunlit patches scudded across the heath without so much as a warming pause. The current forecast for next weekend is heavy snow...
Anyway, another chance today to explore the sparing options for the 1.5 vented Pro. The Green Race Rods seemed to 'spring back' more quickly after being subject to stress/gusts. I am reminded of the bamboo fighter kite once again where recovery before the next attacking/forward move is key to the success in flying control, if not actual combat. Cutting lines is, of course an expression of mismatched capability <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 27 February 2011 74 views
A low turnout today despite the promise of early morning sunshine. The sunshine proved to be unreliable with a band of high level cloud drifting to the east but regenerating on the upwind edge. Just when you expect the clear blue sky to arrive another band of cloud appears limiting the effective warmth of the sun.
Standard vented with race rods fitted the variable wind speeds today. Light wind inputs appear to work very well with this configuration and the long arm moves help in keeping warm.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 20 February 2011 50 views
In contrast to the last two windy weekends today was a light wind day with intermittent fine drizzle. Saturated lines tend to magically bind together, locking tight, even without wraps so there were some interesting fire drills today on the muddy field.
The seven fliers alternated between flying six and seven and re-visited some of the themes developed over the last couple of years as a very informal 'rehearsal' for the 2011 events. Berck and Cervia are 'set up' and we hope to get further news of the UK events before long.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 13 February 2011 42 views
The forecast was for rain all day but happily it held off between 10am and 1pm. The wind was stronger than expected so once again we had the opportunity to fly the Xtra Vent 1.5s today.
I have speculated that given the right balance, low wind techniques could be applied to higher wind conditions and that 'long arm' methods could be beneficial in all situations. Today, flying on the 120ft lines but with the extended handles I found a sweet point where, as with light wind flying, I was not 'gripping' the handles, so avoiding that form of fatigue, and was using the full pull to initiate turns and faster forward flight from a relatively 'slow-mo forward travel' base point. I'm thinking that it would be good to set the leader knot spacing at 1/4in or 1cm in order to fine tune the forward travel base point.
The Xtra Vent 1.5s are excellent. <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 06 February 2011 31 views
So the parcel arrived on Friday 4th February and the forecast for today was for 'up to' 25mph.
The Rev 1.5 Xtra Vent certainly felt rugged and very well constructed (what do I know? <grins>) straight out of the bag. Having the chance to try it out 'for real' today was a very timely treat. The usual 90lb 120ft lines with 4 wrap spars felt comfortable in the gusts that were probably more like 30mph. The standard 1.5 vented kites flying alongside were definitely over stressed. In the blustery conditions the Xtra Vent was rarely at a disadvantage in the lulls and flier input could make up the difference most of the time.
A great piece of kit, in my view, based on immediate impressions today! Thanks...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 30 January 2011 16 views
Another cold day with a variable NE breeze that just about justified the use of the mid vent 1.5s. Sometimes too light, at other times too strong. I was on 'long handles' so the light was easier to cope with than the strong.
The 'not called' free flying is becoming more 'elegant' as the capabilities of the fliers increases. This will be a source of increasingly complex team moves but for now we looked at the possibility of rolling kites 1 and 3 back over 2 and 4 while continuing the overall line of flight. We also tried some of the options starting from the zig-zag line. I hope that we will be able to achieve a threaded infinity soon...
I hope to figure out how to take the 100 (or 108?) kite possibility forwards in the next few days given that Berck 2011 'Project 100' is now cancelled.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 23 January 2011 15 views
A grey day on the Heath but the low anticyclonic cloud did not deliver actual precipitation, just a damp chill in the Northerly breeze.
4 standard JB 1.5s and 1 ex iQuad UL SLE, all with Race Rods flew spoked ladders and rotations and 'all kites benefit' (The Bigot) in the horizontal plane. We also worked on the leading ladder up/down vertically and then horizontally and noted the immediate transition to threads. This was following on from the sequential launch for the Super Sixteen as established at Dunstable. (Video from Dunstable has not surfaced yet)
I'm hoping that it will be possible to put together some 'routine' proposals for the Super Sixteen ahead of the Berck event and would welcome suggestions.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 16 January 2011 12 views
Driving to Blackheath today was uncomfortable due to the onset of a 'mild migrane'.
On the heath the symptoms subsided and four fliers ended up flying silent following ladders up/down and spoked rotations.
We also looked at the possibility of 'reversing' or 'inverting' a sequence of moves to very good effect.
The wind got progressively blustery and rather that persisting with heavier spars we retired gracefully.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 09 January 2011 11 views
A cloudless day on Blackheath today.
Jacob led six fliers through parallel Leader's Benefits/Felix and threaded 180 linear moves. We looked at some developments to the 'Ladder Up' start move which leads directly into the threaded column moves. Starting from the centre seemed to be quite effective. I must remember to follow through to the equivalent landing sequence.
A westerly breeze was good for full 1.5 sails with 4 wrap spars. It has been a few weeks since conditions had been so bright and breezy.
Event planning for 2011 is now 'in hand'.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 02 January 2011 37 views
Arriving slightly ahead of schedule we had to wait a few minutes before the Cafe opened at 10:00am for 'breakfast' for some and a quick 'expresso' for others.
Out on the field there was one thing missing, as in, the 6-8mph breeze that had been forecast. However, in the circumstances a valiant effort was made by everyone and we did get to fly 16 in some of the moves that had been suggested, most notably the square to diamond rotation and the following diamond threads. We also established the laddered launch and landing sequence. At launch this led directly into the regular 16 grid threads providing a smooth introduction to a potential routine.
Thanks very much to everyone who took part.
I wonder if it would be possible to schedule a follow-up meeting sometime before Berck. I'm intent on doing the full week at Berck so would be interested to know if we could put together 16 fliers for the first part of the week?
Felix  December 2023