I’ve just been in Fano, nah nahdi nah nah!
Didn’t expect to be, but one festival (Scheveningen) led to another.
Both were excellent.
Scheveningen had the best weather there’s been there for years- and more support from kitefliers and more kites in the air for longer than I can almost ever remember- especially on Sunday with gloriously steady mid-range wind off the sea. It was a fitting memorial for Gerard van der Loo, friend, business partner, the event’s founder and it’s driving force, who passed away in March. Attached to this is a photo of the portrait kite that Nop Velthuisen, built for this year’s event. It was flown in tribute to Gerard in a very moving ceremony. He’s gone, and has left a very big gap in the sky that can’t be replaced, but we will remember him.
Fano’s weather was not so good- one nice day out of the five we had, but somehow this doesn’t matter there. On Friday, the wind was vicious. I creased our (fortunately rental) car’s door when it was ripped from my hand as it opened. Amassing sufficient further damage to get value from the insurance excess then became a challenge. Eventually a few line burns and ramming it with a buggy did the trick.
We had only one kite flying that day- a quilt (now colloquially called ‘handbags’ or ‘guchi’s’). As far as I could see through the windblown sand, it was the only large kite flying all day- which is possibly some comment on other flier’s good sense rather than our skills.
Sunday was glorious, kites flying in numbers that can only be compared with stars on a clear moonless night, and no chance at all to visit even 10% of the fliers on the beach.
On Monday evening, the day after the summer solstice, there was a bonfire on the beach. It’s a celebration who’s origins are lost in the mists of time but which involves burning an effigy (witch?) and local maidens throwing off their clothes and rushing into the surf. We unaccountably missed the actual event on account of that evening’s essen und trinken but see the attached photo of the unlit bonfire, sans maidens unfortunately.
Ashburton, NZ, July 1 ’03.
What’s new this month?
For some time we’ve been developing special Arc kites for buggying, boarding, snow kiting and kitesailing. The characteristics are different to those required for kitesurfing, with emphasis on upwind performance, de-power and top end rather than water re-launchability and the low speed grunt that kitesurfers require to pull them back up onto the plane after jumps and slow speed turns. Currently we are offering this range (to be called FARC 2’s) in 6m, 9m and 13m (flat area) sizes only but will be adding other sizes month by month, including much larger kites (probably 30m and bigger) for the coming sport of kitesailing.
I had some intimations of their performance when using earlier versions in the Nevada and California deserts during April but the latest 6m I had at Fano for buggying was a revelation.
Traditional buggy kites- bridled foils and C Quads- are strongly established and offer handling characteristics that make them secure in their niche but I believe that arch style kites (of the inflated tube and ram air type) are about to move out from their kitesurfing base and find growing acceptance for general kitetraction activities.
Part of this comes as a cross benefit from the huge R and D investment that has gone into kitesurfing. Probably few dedicated buggiers, boarders, or snow kiters yet realise just how good kitesurfing kites have become.
There are differences which may slow their acceptance:
One is the general use of bars instead of handles- but actually this is completely optional- normal 4 line handle sets work very well with FARC 2’s for those who prefer not to adapt to the more usual bar system.
Different techniques are also required to launch and land arch style kites.
We have developed an effective single person launching systems for Arcs but some experience and skill is required to ensure safety. Kitesurfers help each other with launching and landing- to the extent that doing so has become a behavioral marker of the kitesurfing community. I expect that other kite traction exponents will develop this way also as their use of arch style kites become more common.
I have also had some concern about the inability to easily park Arcs on the ground while resting etc., as is usual for bridled ‘foils, but now realise that the answer is to leave them parked up in the air. Unlike ‘foils or C Quads, Arcs require almost no attention when left tethered by their de-power loop. If the lines are balanced they will often fly reliably as single line kites for long periods- and with very little pull.
In the end, superior upwind performance, 30%+ de-power on demand and stability that is in a totally different league will be hard to ignore.
Initially, FARC 2’s will be available ex-NZ only. They will be supplied directly from here to dealers and re-sellers worldwide. Prices and availability on application.