Ever heard of the "law" of unintended consequence?
Well in this asymmetric Murphy ridden world, unintended consequences are more often disadvantageous than pleasant:
Like the '50's polio epidemic being caused by improving home hygiene that delayed children's exposure to the virus until they had lost the protection of their mother's antibodies.
Like when people take up kite flying because it's 'ecologically responsible' and then become serious planet abusers by flying around the world to do it, tearing up the ozone layer and consuming vast quantities of petrochemicals. On second thoughts, maybe this should be labelled as a revenge effect- one step up from an unintended consequence- in that it's punishment for pushing such sanctimonious humbug in the first place.
Well, Murphy just lost one:
We've had a sudden surprising development that has revitalised our monohull kitesailing boat. It is an unintended consequence of my having to think within baggage limits in getting a new kite speedsailing boat to Europe later in the month. In these boats, first produced in 1997, you sit down and steer with your feet while hanging on to the kite via a waist harness or back strap- sort of boring armchair kitesurfing without the air time. They are simple, relatively inexpensive, easily transportable, have reasonable upwind performance (much better than any kiteboard) and can attain a fair turn of
speed- but aren't easy to stay on when the waves get up. We still sell a few, but in the last year or two they have largely been superseded by the faster, more stable, but much more complex/expensive catamaran style that handle waves much better and allow at least one size bigger kite to be used. I've just tried fitting a pivoting bar to the monohull such that the kite's pull can always be applied (approximately ) through the boat's lateral centre of pressure- see the attached photo's. It was an immediate success, not just for speed by allowing much more pull to be accepted without tipping, but also for general stability in waves and during jibes etc. It may never rival the planing catamaran for all around performance or for stability in breaking surf- but no conventional yacht can either. In determined hands it may ultimately be faster though- maybe even fast enough that a purpose built version could challenge the current world sailing speed record (Set by Lindsay Cunningham's wing sailed planing tripod at 85.5km/hr in 1993). If a suitably aligned wind barrier to ensure flat water can be found or built, I can't see any theoretical or practical reason why it won't. In basic form it certainly offers excellent performance with stability and (relative) safety in a minimalist package. So, why didn't I think of this 5 years ago? Well, why didn't you?!
And now a message from our propaganda department.
I've been noticing that when Arcs (increasingly) perform undeniably well in competition, sour puss "dark side" commentators are amazingly creative at finding excuses: 'so and so wasn't there', 'the others were having an off day', 'luck', 'judges were blind', etc. Well, it seems my developing sense of victimhood is not entirely justified. Apparently their performance is being noticed after all. Recently we have had approaches about rider sponsorship from some VERY interesting directions. However, to change the discussion to business strategy for a moment, at least from the NZ end, we are still cautious about the value of extensive advertising and promotion, of concentrating too much on elite competitors and competitions in general. I generally feel that we best serve our users by providing the best kites at the best prices. My personal bias is to spend every spare dollar (and at times some that should rightfully have gone to buying groceries!) on research and development. Probably I'm wrong.
News and travel.
I'm heading back to Europe in 2 weeks for the Scheveningen* festival, then to a meeting of kite speed sailing enthusiasts at Almero **(near Amsterdam), then down to Sardinia*** for a week of kitesailing with Roberto Magi and his group. Probably therefore I won't get to Fano this year, damn. *For the "ultimate monster bash". The Mega Ray and the Mega-bite, currently billed as joint world's largest kites, will engage in battle- just to settle a few questions that have arisen between their respective operators, that is, between them (Holland) and us.
** To present a range of layout options for a possible future sailing speed record attempt to a group of speedsailing enthusiasts who have converted from sail power to kite power.
*** We've just sent our latest 4.3m kitesailing catamaran over to live in Italy from now on so that I never again have an excuse to sit in Benito's bagno at Cervia all day.
Robert (Lynn) is currently "on loan" to Team NZ (America's Cup holders)- "in a technical capacity" is all I'm allowed to say- supposedly for 1 to 2 weeks per month, so if you don't get prompt replies from him on requests, please just bear with us for a while- in our national interest!
-The Speed Bar for the monohull from above of course, easily retro-fittable and available ex NZ as from now (as per usual, no instructions supplied!). However, we haven't had strong winds here lately (except when it snows) so unless you just can't wait, maybe it will be better to leave ordering for a week or two until the first few have had some more stress testing. -And, check out our new generation of pilot kites;- although a little more stable and able to fly in marginally lighter winds as well as slightly stronger, the major change is that they are less susceptible to collapse in very turbulent winds - and much easier to launch. On account of our having being able to source stock of ideal fabric for them at a very special price, they are also cheaper now- but only for green and grey.