Lost in Italy.
Chris (Brent, F-Arc designer) and I have been held incommunicado In Benitos bagno (beach restaurant) at the (wonderful as usual) Cervia festival for the last 2 weeks, so I have been unable to get this newsletter out on time or in fact do anything much except haul the kites out and launch them each morning, retire to our corner table with its perfect view of the beach* for an obligatory 4 hour lunch, then reverse the process each evening. Sorry about this and I did feel really guilty thinking about everyone back at the coal face, but you will understand that with our usual 100% commitment to festivals and as Benitos main source of income during this period we were stuck there for the duration. Oh, Chris did get some brief kitesurfing interludes, but his relationship with gravity seemed to become noticeably more Intimate during the week- he says because the wind gradually diminished, but I have this thought that maybe the pasta had a small part to play also. We finally escaped, Chris to Holland muttering about even larger ARCs, Richard, Denise (old motorcycle racing friends from NZ on their first Italian experienced and I for a dose of culture in Urbino and now Roma (where I'm writing this). Actually, for the first time ever we did not get lost driving to Francesca's kite shop in Rome. - good navigation, good driving, good luck, whatever. Maybe it was because with each successive visit I'm gradually learning the local traffic rules.
Many things work differently here; Of course every visitor soon notices that traffic lights have an advisory role only but I had mistakenly thought that the policemen at intersections were directing the traffic - they are not, their job is to conduct the horn serenade - this is, after all, a city with serious commitment to culture**. One way streets don't work quite the same way as in other places either - it is true that you only go one way on them, but it can be either way, depending on which direction you start from and who gets there first. Footpaths also have wider traffic functions here than most of us are used to - they are for when there is no road going in a convenient direction at any moment and for when the roadway is already completely filled up with other road users - a sort of useful overflow system.
Parking rules are quite different: alignment with the kerb is not required, the full 360 degrees are available, and what we might think are the usual raised traffic islands in the middle of larger roads are actually extra parking spaces (even preferred parking spaces, because they are free of time restriction signs). It would also seem that cars and motorcycles here are much advanced over those in other places in that they are self guiding - leaving the drivers/riders hands completely free for gestures and playing their parts in the orchestrated horn symphony. Seriously for a moment, Italians are excellent drivers and driving here is not at all difficult or intimidating compared to driving in places where drivers will run you down just to prove a territorial point whenever they believe they have the legal right. And besides, its fun, makes Richard and I more than a little nostalgic for the
riding experiences we shared 30 years ago.
Uhh, I wonder where the nearest Ducatti shop is? Some announcements- Celine and Dominique (Peter Lynn product manager at Vlieger Op) Scholtes now have a son, Mano Niels. I'm sure they will have already begun his introduction to our product range. Congratulations. And more change at Vlieger Op., Jeannet and Herman Bredewold have joined the company and will gradually assume many of the functions that are currently
Gerard's. Welcome aboard. Stefan Cook has notched up another kitesurfing win - first in hangtime, first in freestyle at Byron Bay in Australia. Congratulations Stefan.
Without taking anything away from Stefan and other dedicated Arc users who have sustained their belief in the face of some hostility from various promoters of tube kites, it must be obvious to almost all observers of the kitesurfing scene that now, just 2.5 years after their invention, Arcs have fairly much caught up the 17 year development lead that tube kites started with. Unless the pace of tube kite improvement of the last 3 years gets a surprising kick up the tail from somewhere, next season may be very interesting indeed. We have had major email problems over the last week 4th-12th May, (don't get me started on domain name registration companies!) leading to the delay in
this newsletter, if you have tried to send us an email to us in the last week and have had it bounced then please send it again now. *It's absolutely not true that the multiple pairs of binoculars we hastily acquired were used for looking at the profiles of anything other than kites **
There are also all these round red signs, often at intersections, with "s t o p" written on them - I'm not sure what this word means In Italian, some sort of street art apparently.