Clear blue skies today with occasional high cloud out to the west indicating the approaching but still distant weather front. A SSW breeze was good in the main to put up a mixed set of 1.5 Mid Vents including Rowan's new blue fade Pro with green race.
A very relaxed fly today with few incidents. The bright sun was just strong enough to keep the cold at bay.
Some of us will fly on New Years Day weather permitting. Happy New Year!
26/12/2013 Boxing Day on Blackheath
Headed towards the Blackwall Tunnel it looked as if fog was burning off Canary Wharf and the buildings were emerging into the sunshine. It turned out that this was the reverse of what was actually happening and the field at Blackheath gradually became enveloped in the fog.
It was a mostly steady breeze by way of consolation so the full vented kites with green race worked just fine although mid vents might have been exactly right.
Jacob called some moves and we went through some slow variations of established themes. The 'younger' fliers were not flying today...
11:00am on the Heath today after negotiating an A12 closure and using the Crisp Street alternative route. Full vent with race rods mostly coped with the blustery airstream but by the end of the session it felt like hard work filling the gaps when we were left without airflow when putting team moves together.
Bright and sunny most of the time today but the mostly clear sky at the outset gradually filled with cumulus.
Heading back to Hackney diverting from the A12 we saw that the 'Ginger Pig' was open for business and very busy...
A late start today, c11:30 as I am still slightly on Florida time. Did get a last fly last Tuesday on Miami Beach in the super smooth on-shore breeze. Back to grey skies, intermittent drizzle, rain and a proliferation of worm casts on Blackheath today.
Switched back to 120ft lines without issue but noticed a disparity between the bridle configuration of the iQuad training kites and the Bazzer Pro. I had tried reaching forwards and pulling the top lines to get a launch with the training kite in the Miami breeze and was astonished at the length required. Back on Blackheath in the lumpy breeze this was not the place to experiment further...
Full vented and green race worked today but we sat out some of the squalls towards the end of the session. Driving back home on the A12 past the Olympic Stadium the rain set in heavily suggesting a timely end to flying today.
After Miami Beach 9/12/2013
Thursday to Sunday we did get out on the beach in the morning.
On Thursday we set up close to the water opposite our hotel c8:30 and having switched to the shorter line sets started to fly the the full vented 4 wrap iQuad training kites in the smooth onshore breeze. Rich Comras arrived at about 9:30 and while he was setting up his kite the lifeguard who had recently arrived told him that from 10:00 we would not be able to fly at that location but that there was an area to the north where the beach narrowed that we could use.
We walked the kites north and found that we could just fit although there were waste bins to contend with on the ground.
Jacob could not fly on Friday as he had to attend to changes at the stand in the Convention Centre. Rich was there again.
Saturday we were three up again but on Sunday Rich was not able to be there. Once again the full vented kite were a perfect fit but we did use the 3 wrap spars for the last two days.
Should get the opportunity for another fly on Tuesday but it may be later in the day...
It has been an intense week in anticipation of Thursday's HMRC inspection which was a grueling four hour meeting.
Glad to set off for Blackheath today for a head clearing moment! c11:00am arrival and Martin and Maggie were changing to full sails with race rods. The breeze occasionally dropped off or peaked but most of the time it was good for team flying. There were a few brief bright moments but soon after 1:00pm a light shower arrived as we were packing up...
I shuffled some kites in preparation for the Miami trip next weekend and located the 80ft line sets that we prepared for Cervia last year.
I'll be 'in the air' next Sunday but hope to fly the kites (iQuad training set) 5-8th December on South Beach, Miami <grins>
Anticyclonic murk today with a very slight easterly air movement. Hard to call it a breeze! Standard sails with Diamond rods occasionally worked for team flying. We should probably have got out the Zens and Robertshaws for comparative purposes but all six fliers were content to fly the 1.5 sail as and when possible.
I spent quite a bit of time rescuing 'snagged' or 'wing tipped' fliers but did find a moment to take the kite for an extended walk 'downwind'. The responsiveness of the spars meant that I could pull the kite through two extended 180 degree turns and get it close to the top of the window in only a few of steps back albeit with lots of 'long arm' input. As noted back in the summer the glide away seems to go on for ever without any adjustments for weight distribution with these spars. Interesting to compare the technique for flying a Cody (or a fighter kite) here. You need to know how hard to pull and how quickly to release the line...
One more weekend fly at Blackheath then it's the Miami trip!
It was a sunny November day, the NW breeze was reasonably consistent and the temperature may have reached 12c which
was somewhat higher than expected. The occasional small cloud obscuring the sun introduced a clear chill but there were only a few... The sun was, of course, almost directly in our field of vision! No hiding place available so we were sometimes dazzled!
Standard vented with green race worked today except for the odd lull where the mid-vented sail might have been more appropriate. (If only we had a set <grins>)
Plenty of inventive free flying today and Rowan saw the opportunities to fly in with the group.
Maggie brought her Cody out for an airing. The breeze was not quite consistent enough to tie it off but mostly enough to avoid possible line burn when letting out the line; hand over hand was OK, letting it run free not necessary.
We were four up today in similar conditions to last weekend. Xtra vents with 4 wrap on the usual site albeit with the detritus from the previous night's firework display underfoot. Not as bad as in previous years but maybe it was a smaller display.
Rowan found that the combination of the 'strong' breeze and lower temperature today was causing discomfort and while the rest of us resorted to gloves he was not confident that he could maintain control with gloved hands.
Eventually the wind chill got to me and we wrapped up at 12:30. I'm looking forward (already) to the Miami trip at the beginning of December <grins>. Our 2014 events are shaping up as well but I will not be able to go to Canada...
With a little assistance from the clock change we were on the Heath at about 10:00am today.
As the wind was c20 mph I helped Rowan set up his new lines and handles (thanks Lolly) and made sure sufficient brake was set before he attempted to fly the Xtra Vent sail with 4 wrap. That was the set-up for the rest of us as well, or at least most of us.
We flew six for the first time since the end of the event season. Ashley called and Rowan flew in confidently given the fairly extreme conditions. We stacked the kites in the air and on the ground but eventually the level and persistence of the gusts suggested that it was time to quit while we were ahead.
Other kiters(?) today were seen body surfing on the grass and demonstrating complete lack of control. :-(
After the c8:30am downpour in Hackney the blustery SW airstream continued today with thundery showers looming on the horizon.
The 'heath' was not as wet underfoot as last weekend. Vented sails with race rods were just about at the limit occasionally as were the same sails with four wrap rods in the lighter moments.
Rowan joined in with one of the iQuad practice set kites today and showed considerable resilience in dealing with unfamiliar situations and regaining control of the kite if things went wrong.
At c3:00pm back in Hackney the heavy rain is here again...
PS At 3:32 there was a flash of lightning and a rumble of thunder!
Heavy steady rain this morning so no point in an early start on Blackheath today. Time to do the ESTA application ahead of the Miami trip...
Careful 'study' of the Met Office forecast today suggested that the rain would ease around 1:00pm over East London and that was what happened.
Some of the site at Blackheath has now been mown but not the corner where we usually set up.
It was very wet underfoot. We flew 'wrong sails' today, Xtra vents with race rods, getting some more low wind technique time in the sky. Another incremental 'extra brake' adjustment on Rowan's lines appeared to suggest that the difference in spring back between standard race and green race really can have an impact! We were switching kites/lines as the conditions were constantly changing so it was hard to assess the different configurations...
Ultimately a team, (even a mega team) would need to have kites and lines 'set up identically' in order to achieve consistent performance <grins>
Glorious sunny day today but there was no breeze at all when we arrived at 10:30am. Occasionally there was a barely perceptible movement from the west.
The Diamond rods may not actually be lighter than the Race rods but they are 'stiffer' so the sail loads and the kite moves quickly in response to input from the flier. In zero breeze the fighter kite technique of pulling the kite up and then letting it glide away works beautifully with these spars.
The 'lightness' of touch really becomes apparent as soon as there is actually some breeze as eventually happened today. I could see the lines at the top of the window today and it was fascinating to watch the 'catenary' of the lines as the kite circled. ¼ inch extra brake for Rowan made a significant difference in feel for him today.
With the wind from the east we do not get planes bound for Heathrow overflying Hackney (or Blackheath). So it was a late start this morning! No early morning drone...
Arrived just before 11am and set up vented with race. Eventually switched out to four wrap which simply felt more comfortable in the gradually increasing breeze. Rowan appreciated the difference that the firmer spars made in controlling circular side slides in the pendulum.
Late September sunshine broke through as we wrapped up today.
It was a light breeze on Blackheath today but the clouds did not burn off as forecast and at times there was a hint of drizzle. The field is still not mown so we had to contend with snagged lines yet again.
Plenty of line set adjustments today in setting up a variety of spar configurations in the 1.5s and a couple of Robertshaw sails as well.
I flew the Diamond Rods again and later handed the 1.5 kite to Rowan who managed to fly in with the team in what were really marginal conditions for team flying.
Maggie supervised the assembly of her Cody kite and we flew it on the pink polyester sleeved Kevlar line that I have been carrying to kite festivals 'just in case' for very many years. It was very well behaved but Ashley found that line handling can cause finger blisters rather quickly. <ouch>
I will be at Miami Beach for work at the beginning of December for 10 days so hope to fly some kites. Jacob will be there as well.
An early start for me in order to take advantage of the weather and avoid issues with road closures in getting home. Too early for some so solo flying for a while.
Diamond Rods are ordered for the team. We flew them in the ex-iQuad sails the other week. I have the red, yellow, pink and purple, (all with white sails) that were illustrated in a Facebook image in the last day or so. I cannot, however, find the 'page' now which is irritating. These rods will certainly extend the range of the 1.5 kites in the lowest breezes.
Vented with green race rods today in the variable and gradually increasing SW breeze. The approaching weather front was forecast earlier in the week to bring a spell of very wet weather in the afternoon but this did not materialise on the day.
Some passing showers did not dampen the enthusiasm of the performers in the Hackney Carnival which closed the local roads. (see attached image!)
As a special treat to celebrate the end of the event season I rolled out a new set of lines today. Apart from being equal lengths the lack of friction when wrapped made a really big difference to the flying experience <grins>. Vented 1.5s with Race rods again...
Rowan joined us again today. He missed the Portsmouth and Bristol weekends. Interesting to see him owning the inverted hover and LE left/right as well.
Still not mown on Blackheath so very snaggy.
The SW airstream presented a 'large' shower which arrived at about 1:00pm. A Greenwich Park event meant that it was a longer walk to the car today but we timed it just right.
01/09/2013 After Bristol
It was great to be back at Bristol this weekend after the Olympic 'holiday' last year. We had two days of sunny weather with good wind mostly, if a little variable/turbulent at times.
Standard JMH 1.5s with race on Saturday worked all day. We started with standard JMH 1.5s with race on Sunday then switched to JMH 1.5 vented with 3 wrap but were back to the standard1.5s for the last performance. No 'Mega Fly' opportunity but the sequence of arena presentations kept the 'very large' audience very attentive throughout the weekend. Apart from the kite festival auction on Saturday evening there were various 'charity fund raising raffles' over the weekend and Jacob was a winner. It will be interesting to learn which prize option he chooses! (Hot Air Ballooning to Sushi making <grins>)
Back to Blackheath next weekend and I hope that we can sort out a 'Super Sixteen' weekend before Christmas. It's all about the logistics...
26/08/2013 After Portsmouth
The Decs arrived on site on Saturday morning at about 9:00am. The 'Rev arena/two line preparation area' was nominally in place and lasted until the lunchtime mega fly on Sunday at which point it was over-run by visitors to the event.
There were plenty of arena spots for the Rev teams including 3 Mega Team performances. Stephen Hoath did a great job in calling the grid. Monday morning was bright and sunny. The wind still from the north and lighter again so we were not able to attempt 'larger team' format with Fusion and others but we did check the Diamond Rods in our standard JMH sails again against other 1.5 sail options. The Diamond Rods are extremely good in light conditions. I am, however, 'very' reluctant to test them to 'destruction'. <grins>
Great to hear of the success at WSIKF of the 81 grid. Sorry to see our 64 grid surpassed but I can now hope to be at the first 100 grid again!
Bristol, next weekend, is our last formal event this year.
Another bright day and it seems that the 1.5 vented with race rods is becoming a fixture this year. When was the last time we flew the Zens this summer?
We were in conversation about handle termination today and have set out to try tying variations on the short connector to the pigtail leaders with or without staking loops. We'll be using the pink polyester sleeved kevlar so limiting a point of failure without a visual clue.
Rowan flew in again today and seemed much more relaxed in dealing with flying issues. I think that getting his place at University may have some influence here <grins>
Portsmouth next weekend but I will be hoping to keep up with news from WSKIF, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Wishing the fliers every success we'll hope to do some super 16 work to make up for not being part of the 100!
Mostly bright and breezy on the heath today with just a few drops of rain. Standard vented 1.5s with race rods worked just fine.
Rowan joined the line again today and evidently enjoyed the challenges of following some simple routines. He was also asked to lead the line on occasions!
Groundwork continues to be somewhat risky on the field but the football pitches are being marked out now so I expect the mowers will be out soon.
After cycling c190 miles over 3 days during the week I was aware of tired arms at the end of our flying session today. Should be fine, of course, for next weekend and the following two festival events at Portsmouth and Bristol.
The A12 approach to the Blackwall Tunnel was not accessible at Hackney Wick this morning so it was back doubles to Crisp Street and the A13 before we could get back on our usual route. Not as bad as this time last year for getting to Blackheath, of course!
More south than south westerly today and mostly brisk again so standard vented and green race seemed about right. We were distracted by an incident on the A2 but did manage some interesting silent free flying. Some further serious snagging moments today but no actual damage.
Jacob made a brief appearance on the heath today after his last night's 50th birthday celebration party. The Decs will celebrate our 25 years at Portsmouth and Bristol. Gammel Dansk will feature in special memory.
In the meantime I am due on Blackheath at 9:00am on Tuesday 6th August...
I do know that sun screen is needed even when there is cloud cover... and we did not get to Dunstable today!
Blackheath is looking very brown after the last few weeks of summer weather but it was quite damp underfoot after last night's 'torrential' rain.
A mostly brisk SW breeze so it was Xtra Vent with Race Rods today. Rowan was in the line again today so he was led into inverted side slides 'just for fun'. As we were told back in 1991 it's best not to think about it too much 'just do it'.
The un-cut seed heads of plantains and a variety of other plants proved to be something of an issue today. Some of the dried stems were particularly tough and sometimes it was necessary to go down the lines to un-hook them. (Memories of recently cleared scrub on a muddy field near the east shore of the Sea of Galilee come to mind...)
I'm on vacation from the end of next week and plan to take part in a bit of cycle touring in SE England. Kites will not be involved but the meeting point on the first day will probably be Blackheath and the destination will be Broadstairs via Whitstable and Margate.
A cooler start today under full cloud cover. The breeze at c5 mph from the NE occasionally dropped out completely but full 1.5 sails with 3 wrap mostly worked OK. I was flying the Diamond spars again and having finally tied on a set of ¼ inch stepped leaders enjoyed the fine tuning and snappy responsiveness <grins>
I'm still puzzling about the best way to secure the leaders to the handles and how to incorporate a stake loop. Sad or what?
We persuaded Rowan that he should join the line today and fly some infinities "∞". What he didn't expect was that we would also turn the line to face up, form the ball, burst, 180, return, go to spokes, move one space, 180, return to original position and etc. It was interesting to see just how much a beginner can cope with in the 'obviously' sympathetic line and that recovery from being 'out of position' could be so quick.
Having previously set Rowan up with a bit more 'forwards' it was evident that when he joined the line today a bit more brake was needed and duly applied on the 1/3 inch stepped leaders that I had been using before today.
The cloud cover broke at about 12:30 and having failed to screen up it seemed sensible call it a day at that point. Must remember to carry sun screen to Dunstable next weekend whatever the forecast suggests.
Blackheath was in full on summer mode today. The recently cut grass is brown but the plantain seed heads have carried on growing to provide plenty of snagging opportunities. The forecast suggested light winds and it was 0-6+ mph predominately from the NW but with big swings either side.
It was another opportunity to test drive the Diamond spars but, while the spars are great, flying directly into the sun without sunglasses makes appreciation of the 'top of the window' capabilities a bit difficult. While I could see the kite and still feel control I could not see the lines to understand quite how slack they had become on some occasions!
Lower down in the wind window the JB Pro 1.5 sail with Diamond spars felt light but very precise. We flew Zen (Race rods) and Robertshaw (3,4,3_3,3 I think) sails as well as the 1.5s with Diamond and Zen spars today. There were some moments of 'silly close' light wind flying.
Rowan flew a Robertshaw sail with 3,4,3_3,3 spars on 80ft lines and he kept the kite airborne most of the time despite the light breezes.
So it was 'Race for Life' again on Blackheath today. Maggie phoned ahead having parked up in Greenwich Park at about 10:00am. I arrived a bit later having encountered a slow bus (108) in the Blackwell Tunnel.
In the spirit of the day we flew pink kites but with a twist. The 'Diamond Spars' really are very good indeed. We used the iQuad training sails 2 SUL sails (pink and purple) and one Standard sail (pink/gray) and put them through their paces against the 2 wrap set.
The weightless 'glide away' was just magic as well as the top of the window 'slack line' performance.
It is fair to say that high specification equipment may not really make things easier for a beginner but it certainly opens up the possibilities for the more experienced flier. The Diamond spars are very light and when pressured, 'snap' back into line, very quickly.
The forecast was for a proper summer's day and that indeed was how it was today. Arrived on Blackheath at 10:00am and initially the breeze felt fairly light but I set up the full vented with green race rods. Over the next 2 hours the breeze gradually increased and by the time we wrapped, heavier spars, or the Xtra Vented sail, would have been more comfortable.
Needless to say the new Diamond rods stayed in the bag. The current forecast for next Sunday looks promisingly light but such forecasts tend to morph during the week.
Rowan flew again today on 120ft lines. Initially the 20th Anniversary sail with 3 wrap and then the vented sail from the iQuad set with 4 wrap spars. He avoided heavy impact with the ground and only very occasionally had issues with tip wraps or flat down landings. Not ever having flown a 2-line kite he has no problem with adapting hand positions for left or right facing traverses.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 23 June 2013 85 views
Blustery summer wind on Blackheath today with occasional dark clouds spitting a few raindrops. Xtra Vents with green race were occasionally at the limit. I did not get to change to the latest refinement of close knotted leaders but adjusted an incorrect placed figure eight knot in the current set fairly quickly on the field. Knowing that a knot can be broken open with a little persistence helps a lot!
Having finished final exams at secondary school last week my son Rowan joined us today and flew an Xtra Vent on 80ft lines. This was his second time out with a Rev and he clearly enjoyed getting to grips with all the variables. Lots of testing of input and responses. He quickly found mobility on the ground... <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 16 June 2013 96 views
Leaving Hackney at 10:30am it was another grey day and it looked like rain was approaching. Another summer day!
Full vented 1.5 kites were once again the best fit on Blackheath, mostly with race rods to coast through the lighter moments. The swifts were out in numbers, but high up, not flying through the kite lines.
Talk today was of 'holding the handles'. The consensus was finger tips only, no fist shaped grip, with the possibility of the small finger in opposition. Light wind technique for sure!
I'm struggling with leader knot tying. Does anyone know how to tie knots accurately at quarter inch intervals? <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 09 June 2013 119 views
Arrived 10:00am at Blackheath to find that the plantain heads had taken over from the dandy-lions. Loads more line snagging potential until the next mowing!
Cold 13C NE wind, low grey cloud, vented with green race rods flying solo did not last long. Further acquaintance with the new leaders convinces me that this is a good thing. 3/8in step more brake worked a treat today! 1/4in might have been better so I'll get tying this afternoon <grins>
Sounds like it was bit windy in Weston-Super-Mare yesterday. No further news today.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 02 June 2013 111 views
Another sunny summery Sunday on Blackheath even if the temperature was not consistently in the t-shirt range. Two in a row must be good!
Another 'mostly wrong sail' day today with some careful line adjustments thrown in for good measure. It's amazing how 'wrong' line sets can be and how much better it feels flying on correctly set lines. Light winds, dropping off completely sometimes, made for occasional hard work but we did get some neat 'no call' interactions going in the air.
I have been setting about tying top handle pigtails with much shorter adjustment gaps, aiming at about 1/4 inch intervals. Not quite got there yet but today's effort at about 3/8 inch using 1.5 bridle line as supplied by Revolution proved quite effective. Not that I change very often, of course! More brake for high winds and more brake for low winds means that the setting usually remains the same. The exception may be 'more forwards' for Mega Team and those 'Leading Edge Up' hovers.
Some of the team will be at Weston-Super-Mare next weekend but I will be working!
PS And Damon was flying kites on Blackheath as well. FJM
Posted by Felix Mottram, 26 May 2013 136 views
It really was a sunny Sunday despite worries about climate changes and the dismal cold weather during the week.
Another light wind, wrong sail day. Mostly full vented with race spars, kites occasionally falling out of the sky only to get snagged on the dandylion heads on the recently mown field.
Some fluent interaction without calls and plenty of attention from passers by!
Posted by Felix Mottram, 19 May 2013 125 views
The swifts have finally arrived in Hackney and at Blackheath. Their fast/slow interactions in flight are an inspiration every year and their screaming calls the signature of summertime.
A light wind exercise on Blackheath today. The premise being that the full vented B1.5 can be flown in light breezes with extra input from the flier and that the physical moves learned will translate to moves required with the full sail in really light conditions. I personally have no doubt that this will be effective just like the importance of 'maximising' break settings in low wind conditions. The 'fast forward' fliers will have no 'grip' in the sky and will be the first to give up in low wind conditions. <grins>
The switch to Zen/CR Masterpieces from the full vented B1.5s was an interesting transition. Suddenly having a sail that could hold altitude required a quick switch in flying technique. One day a careful comparison of the Zen/CR Masterpiece characteristics could be useful. Both kites worked very well today as the prevailing breeze switched off and then re-established from the North-East.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 12 May 2013 126 views
The trees in Greenwich park have turned full spring green in the last four weeks.
It was a quiet day on Blackheath today compared to the rigours of the previous 3 weekends.
Mid vented 1.5s with race rods were good to start with at 10:00am but the windspeed gradually freshened over about 2 hours so we changed to full vented 1.5s and finally Xtra Vented 1.5s with 4 wrap spars. The Xtra Vented kites are so 'smooth'. <grins>
Along the way I made time to re-shuffle spars in the team kites and leave behind some sand from Weymouth beach. Berck and Cervia had been deposited in the switch to and from the flight case. Carrying sand is hard work...
06/05/2013 After Weymouth
Posted by Felix Mottram, 06 May 2013 136 views
Arrived Saturday midday and the strong westerly breeze rolling across the buildings was not really 'flyable' so as it was not a day that was formally part of the event we retired early to a late lunch. ;-)
Sunday was sunny but the wind, although lighter, was still from the west and given the available space on the beach it was far from clean. We tried various sail configurations, JMH 1s, 1.5s and 1.5 venteds along with differing spar sets and did not find the 'right' configuration for the difficult conditions. 1.5 mid vents might have been the best option but we do not have a team set at this stage!
Monday started with sea mist which broke initially at about 10:00am with a light onshore (SE) breeze that continued fairly consistently for the rest of the day as banks of sea mist rolled in obscuring the otherwise sunny blue sky. During the breaks Ringstead Bay and White Nothe were occasionally visible. We only flew the JMH team 1s today and managed to refine some of the Cervia light wind moves in the four and six flier format.
Back to Blackheath next weekend...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 28 April 2013 111 views
Another full day at Cervia ending in the arena with Team for Fun. Zens to Vented today, mostly sunny with very light showers falling from blue sky!
Off to Mare Vita shortly followed by the Sicilian 'meeting' <grins>
21/04/2013 After Berck
Posted by Felix Mottram, 21 April 2013 127 views
Arrived back in London from Berck c7:30pm this evening.
The team used everything in the team kit during the four days in attendance. Xtra Vent, 1.5 full Vented, Standard 1.5 and the Rev1s. Once again, a very good event.
The team kit had to be transferred to the flight case this evening which meant de-sanding all the kites as well. We just hit our weight target for the Cervia trip.
Early start Monday morning, 5:00am alarm call! <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 14 April 2013 105 views
The isobars were close together on the weather map this morning but the expected temperature was way up compared to the last few weeks.
The strong (c20mph gusting 30?) southerly breeze saw us checking 80 and 100ft line sets ahead of Cervia with a quick run through of Moby with Rev2s on the 80ft lines. As some of the fliers had rarely or never flown the Rev2 before it was a bit twitchy at times but eminently do-able. The transition to the Xtra Vents 4wrap on 120s was quite amusing, suddenly the kites were in treacle mode. These sails are just amazing for close proximity flying when the breeze gets up and reverse flying is just so smooth.
We flew some transitions from free flying to defined figures on the count of 10 which were maybe a little 'self conscious' but basically proved the concept.
The team arrive in Berck next Wednesday evening, stragglers (me included) on Friday evening and then the Cervia team re-group on Monday 22nd April. We are at Cervia until the end of the event, final day is 1st May, and then will be at Weymouth from about midday on Saturday 4th May for the rest of that event.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 07 April 2013 144 views
There was a light breeze, there was some sunshine, It was Zens rather than Xtra Vents, quite a contrast to the last few weekends.
The circus was still in place and we were early so heard the build-up to the 11:00am show and then flew with background music highlighted by the crash of the cymbals.
The 'extra brake' setting for the high winds the last couple of weekends were just right for the low wind conditions today. My kite floated off the top of the wind window on one occasion but the spar configuration/weight distribution had the kite gliding towards the wind 'direction' without losing much altitude. I had to move quite quickly on the ground to take up the slack in the lines in order to re-connect to the kite.
Preparations are in hand for the Berck/Cervia/Weymouth events which follow after next weekend. It's going to be quite an intense month.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 31 March 2013 140 views
The clocks changed so I was late on Blackheath today.
Still cold so some of us went for Xtra Vent with race rods. The extra movement on the ground did help in keeping warm and it was interesting to see how well this configuration coped in the wind window against a standard full vent sail. I guess the windspeed was averaging 10mph so occasionally light wind flying tactics were required.
I like the 'speed control' feel of the Xtra Vent and also the reverse flying characteristics which seems particularly smooth to me.
With Easter being late this year the prospects of a warm Berck had seemed likely. Unfortunately the North Atlantic conveyer doesn't appear to be functioning normally and the Jet Stream is 'out of position' so we have a late spring and a worrying long term outlook. So much for 'summertime'...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 24 March 2013 233 views
Late March gloom with an overnight dusting of snow did not present any real obstacle in getting to Blackheath today but the wind chill on site made it feel colder than any other flying day this winter.
Full vented with green race for me again was over stressed on a couple of occasions even with extra brake. My kite and others with different frames were landed safely to ride out the squalls.
Conversationally it was decided that free flying as we have been 'practicing' recently does not really work if too much 'thought' is applied. 'Talking' about it or suggesting 'frameworks' tends to kill the spontaneous elements and the 'errors' multiply. Seems like it is one of those AoxomoxoA (EXWX3XMXE) situations and as such I am not going to speak of it further or directly in the context of this 'blog'. <grins>
If you encounter groups of fliers flying mostly silently and often closely with 'total concentration' please do not break the spell. Thanks!
Posted by Felix Mottram, 17 March 2013 130 views
Showery airflow from the South East today with occasional glimpses of the sun through deep layers of cloud.
Full vented 1.5 with green race again for me and unusually I was first on site so time for some 'solo' flying.
The first shower passed before other fliers arrived. We then flew freeform only daring to look back when shadows were occasionally visible on the ground. A pattern of moves is beginning to emerge and critically the use of the wind window comes to the fore. We are not trying to 'force' figures just taking full advantage of the available window. Moving very close together at all points in the window and then moving apart to line up for the next interaction. Variation of speed and the confidence of control in close proximity reminds me of flying with the Roks.
Today we had one instance of bound wet lines which unfolded elegantly once the lines were 'relaxed'.
Five weeks now until the start of 'main events' for 2013. <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 10 March 2013 227 views
No sign of spring today. Low grey clouds, wind north easterly with light precipitation, not quite sleet!
Full vented 1.5s, (my frame was green race) but it sometimes felt that the Xtra Vent would have been the warmer kite to fly given more movement on the ground.
Once again a mix of uncalled free flying with called episodes thrown in occasionally. Of course it is easy to measure the capability to fly recognised moves but it can be much more interesting to improvise 'in the air' and find the space... As long as the fliers 'get the idea' the flying can be much more complex with a greater dynamic range. <grins> Once again some of the close rotational moments were particularly inspiring. Rolling the group of kites and rotating individually seems to really hit the mark.
We finished with a look at the four person 'sprocket' which is an interesting level of abstraction from the six or eight person version.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 03 March 2013 131 views
On Blackheath this morning we had a tantalising ten minutes of spring sunshine. The low convection cloud that soon re-formed burned off later in the afternoon just to prove the point by which time we were long gone home.
Full sail 1.5s with race today but when the sun was shining the easterly breeze dropped dramatically. Mostly free flying today interspersed with episodes of called elements as well as almost spontaneous pendulum and rolling ball rotations. For four the paired arc right followed by the full arc left, paired arc left and then full arc right needs a bit more work on hitting the transitions for what should be a great holding move. We finished with a re-run of plan-A.
Berck and Cervia are not so far away now, a different world altogether. <grins>
Posted by Felix Mottram, 24 February 2013 238 views
The prospects were a bit grim. North easterly breeze, snow flurries and all that.
As with last week the re-instated football pitch was in use and ML opted to set up to the east of the road as the NE breeze was not obstructed in any way. We've flown on this field before (notably on one snowy AGM winter weekend) but it does feel strange being a bit lower than the rest of the heath.
Full vented with Race/3 Wrap worked OK today and in the short free form fly we did see some great rolling interactions. I'm almost inspired to try and write out the moves and try a stop-frame animation. In free flying the individual wraps are of course never an issue as the flier chooses the moment to get out of them, the more elegantly the better, in the course of further interaction. <grins>
Very conscious today of horizontal handles and 'long arm' flexibility in order to hit the slow rotation points and to maintain position 'height wise' at the same time.
Turned out that a missing flier had not heard the 'breakfast' call today...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 17 February 2013 145 views
Canary Wharf was seemingly hiding in the mist as we hit the A102 towards the Blackwall Tunnel this morning in bright sunshine.
On Blackheath there was a slight breeze from the SE but a football pitch had been marked out on our usual flying site and was very much in use so we walked a bit further to the west. Jacob arriving a few minutes later complained that we did not really have to walk so far. However, his arrival was a good excuse to break out the team Rev 1s as he does not have his own kites.
So it was very slow and close (treacle) flying for some of the time. Those sails really do go slow and close especially with good ground positioning to avoid the bumps (turbulence). Seeing the JMH sails in the sky with the mirrored graphics reminded me just how much that he had identified with and contributed to our project.
<pauses for thought>
I think that Jørgen had ideas that may not have been realised yet by The Decs in a practical sense and I am very happy to be continuing to explore the possibilties within the team and the larger team formats. Some of the flying today underlined the 'simple precision' that I believe Jørgen had identified.
It was a good breeze most of the time and the Rev 1 kites were a perfect fit...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 10 February 2013 149 views
The forecast was fairly dire so it was with a certain level of optimism that we drove to Blackheath this morning in light rain. The gondolas were evident in the rear view mirror approaching the Rising Sun roundabout so it was not 'that' windy.
Standard vented 1.5s with race/ultra light(3 wrap) dealt with the occasional lulls in the S/SE breeze. Four fliers took the 'lazy' option of no call free flying often in close proximity and with only one entanglement in over an hours continuous flying time. The variation of speed seems to produce the most interesting fragments of potential organised team moves with expansion and contraction of the group of kites providing an underlying rhythm.
The light rain as we set up had gradually increased and showed signs of turning to sleet so we wrapped up soon after midday realising that it was 'now' very wet!
Berck and Cervia seem a long way away at the moment but I hope that we will be able to set up a Super 16(12) event for 16th-17th March somewhere in England.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 03 February 2013 153 views
It looked like a high cloud grey day travelling towards Blackheath this morning but the cloud base was soon below the Heathrow approach flightpaths over the 'heath'.
Another Xtra Vent day although somewhat more marginal than last weekend. It was a less consistent breeze so occasionally the 4 wrap spars felt very heavy. Cold again so occasional spells of energetic long arm flying kept things comfortable while making lazy, though occasionally intricate, uncalled moves. Especially interesting today were times when the kites would be drifting across the window rotating individually but also as a group.
Plans for the year firmed up this weekend with attendance at Berck and Cervia basically confirmed. Just got to book the channel crossing and the flights now. Looking for inspiration for the projected Super 16(12) event in March now, 16-17th that is...
Posted by Felix Mottram, 27 January 2013 173 views
I did not notice that the cable car across the Thames was not operating this morning on the way to Blackheath. This, apart from flags along the way, would be an indicator that the close isobars on the weather map were an accurate forecast.
So it was Xtra Vent with 4 wrap that kept things sane as Jacob called some close moves in what would have been very challenging conditions for any other sail/spar combination. Counter rotations were the flavour of the day in linear format or paired. Curiously we still managed to back-up during flying spells. The sunny conditions were a complete contrast to last weekend's snow cover.
We learned during the week that the Exmouth event will not take place this year. We have tentatively planned a 'Super Sixteen (or 12)' event on 16th-17th March but have not yet decided on the venue. Also planning 'something' 'somewhere' between the Portsmouth and Bristol events at the end of August, 27th - 30th that is!
Posted by Felix Mottram, 20 January 2013 194 views
Heavy snow (for London) today makes it look like our gamble on the weather for the Shipley meeting last weekend really paid off.
A steady N/NE breeze with full sail 1.5 Race or 3 wrap worked well today. Some plaiting of lines was un-done gracefully in the air. The lines were a bit discoloured from last weekend but not enough to show up in the snow against the monochrome sky.
Memories of Madison, Kites on Ice, when wrapping up. Cold hands...
13/01/2013 After Shipley
Posted by Felix Mottram, 13 January 2013 564 views
We had a great afternoon on Saturday mostly flying 12 (full 1.5 Race Rods) and getting up to speed with some of the 'familiar' team moves in the larger format. It was a bit muddy as in the attached image.
Occasionally we came up against the limitations of 'in-line' flying and we did switch to grid for a while. I think that ease of movement on the ground in transition from one scheme to the other will help in developing the larger team format.
Saturday evening we found the local Indian and Brewery Tap... before returning to the bar next to the bargain Hotel.
Sunday was a very light wind morning with a dusting of snow on the field. We set up Decs Rev 1s with other Rev 1s and occasionally had groups of fliers in the sky in tight formation.
On the side we also discussed the potential of 'no-call free flying' in order, maybe, to develop fliers perception of the available space and possible moves subject to the actual prevailing conditions (rather than attempting to impose a pre-determined routine on given conditions). I have seen some amazing potential team figures flown spontaneously in this manner. It requires complete trust in and co-operation with fellow fliers and works best when speed control of the kites is utilised to the full with carefully tuned rotations being a particular focus.
We are hoping to set up another similar weekend event (Super 16 or 12!) in the not too distant future.
PS Thanks very much to everyone who took part. "Round of applause"
Posted by Felix Mottram, 06 January 2013 165 views
The anticyclonic gloom had descended on Blackheath today but fortunately the drizzle held off. The grass was very wet though so we had very tightly bound lines to contend with while setting up. It always amazes me just how much adhesion can result so quickly. It was a marginal breeze today which did not help matters particulary.
We persisted with full 1.5 sails and Race Rods and occasionally the breeze picked up enough to make interaction quite comfortable.
Just a lazy fly today, really, ahead of 'serious stuff' (or not <grins>) at Shipley Country Park next weekend.
Posted by Felix Mottram, 01 January 2013 196 views
A clear bright start to the year. Happy New Year to all.
Standard vented with green race rods worked well for me initially but a slight strengthening of the breeze towards the end of our fly showed just how finely balanced the configurations can be. Hanging on in a cold breeze is not as good as energetic input to keep the chill at bay.
The long range forecast for Nottingham (Shipley Country Park) on 12th-13th January is looking cold but not too wet. Should be fun, 'whatever the weather', of course.
Discussions on the field today about routines for 16 fliers. <grins> I must look up the previous correspondence...