What's in a name? Everything, or nothing?
Shakespeare was in the nothing' s camp- "A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet" Eastman, the founder of the Kodak company was also- he selected Kodak as their brand name precisely because it had no previous meaning-and because it was snappy and easily recognisable. On the other hand, some things ARE the name- which is why names themselves can be saleable things even before they have a product attached to them.
I think names for kites do matter a bit. They should be short, different, and to some extent descriptive(hence Peel, C Quad, Arc etc). If possible they should also have a second meaning or association. Maybe a bad name doesn't sink a good kite but a good name can enable faster acceptance. Here, finding names for new kites is a sort of ritual. For market and functional (like it is too similar to another of our kites or it fly's bad) reasons, not all the new kites we develop make it into production. For the designer, about the best indicator that some particular development IS going to make the grade is when others here start talking about suitable names.
Of course encouraging comments may already have been made, but these can be discounted as perhaps just colleagues being generally supportive. When the naming ritual starts, it's a sure sign your peers have rendered their judgment and success is within reach. Chris Brent's latest design, an Arc variant, has just been christened. Because the chord looks fairly parallel, it's working name during development was the "P-Arc".
However, as soon it was out in public, Dave Kay (a Christchurch kitesurfer) pointed out to us why this is not a perfect name- by spelling it backwards. Actually, as soon as the kite was offered for testing to a wider group it named itself- It's now to be called the "F Arc", roughly what people say when they first use it. The F Arc was initially just a concept kite, built to test out a few ideas in readiness for the day, still thought to be distant, when we would want to develop a more advanced kitesurfing kite. Therefore, to save time , Chris tried 3 radical changes in the same kite, hoping to be able to separate their various effects. Usually a very bad approach to development , this time all the changes worked straight away. It's never happened here before; my previous experience is that nothing comes easy, that even minor improvements fight like hell not to reveal themselves. Seems like pure blind luck to me, but Chris has a different view.
F Arcs are high aspect ratio- the 1500/9.5 is 7.5, the 1200/7.5 is 6.5 and the 950/6.0, will be 5.5. They have more de-power than any previous kite we've produced. They are better upwind than any kite we've ever made before, maybe than any kite anywhere. They jump VERY well, especially hang time- hence the name. They are very gust responsive and exceptionally luff resistant. But, F Arcs are not for bunnies*: Their pre-inflated flying is not as easy as for the standard Arc range. Their water relaunch is not as reliable- especially the 1500/9.5. It can develop a twist when nose down in light winds which is difficult to get out. And -bunnies are not birds.
Don't fly them unless you are safe and comfortable with being a long way up for a very long time- because this will surely happen when you use an F Arc. They are a high performance kites for expert users, not ever, in any way, a replacement for standard Arcs. Availability?- Just a few per week from here initially- when someone is available to make them (which will be when the wind is not OK for kitesurfing)- but larger scale production is being set up even as you read this!- true!- but after all our 1410/10 delays, I barely even believe this myself. So what's my role in the business now that others are notching up a few design and development successes? (there are more new designs "in the wind" than just the F Arc).
Well I could be the older head, wisely guiding and gently nurturing the new creative team, but actually I've been reassigned to work as a groundsman. The hectare or so of land around our new factory-to-be has to be beaten into submission, which is requiring hours and hours on the ride-on. In other words, I've been put out to grass. For this week anyway. Peter Lynn, Ashburton 1 Dec '01. *Which is OK because Tory has eaten all the bunnies anyway- he waited tonight at the entrance to the local fast food outlet (that is the mouth of the rabbit burrow), but the food there has all run out (and away). New products? Well, the F Arc of course, this is a major one- see the attached photo. Also we have a new harness hook.
From a suggestion by Mike Holland, it is, and is called, the Swing Hook. For kitesurfers, basically it shifts the pull to whichever side the kite is, eliminating most of the twisting tendency that interferes with many manoeuvres. Thank you Mike. Swing hooks are available now in small quantities ex-Ashburton and will be available ex Holland in time for the next northern season. They are not the same and do not replace our popular Swivel Hooks -although it may be possible to combine the two into one unit eventually.