I've been on the road continually since the NABX in the USA (April); at Berck sur Mer in France- a huge, and superbly organised festival, then in Holland being a seagull manager* for a few days, then down to the Cervia event for the now obligatory week of long lunches at Dino's- plus a bit of kiteflying and kitesailing.
Cervia locals, Gianlucca and Stella provided a ride for myself and a KiteCat from den Hague. I've driven from Holland to Italy many times, but never before by the route we took this time under guidance from a pleasant Italian speaking lady tour guide who lived in a black box on the dashboard.
I usually drive straight down through Germany to Munich and enter Austria a few kilometers from Innsbruck for the Brenner pass. For this trip, on the way in to Innsbruck and the Brenner, our tour guide arranged a 5 hour winding alpine tour traversing most of picturesque Austria, or maybe it was Switzerland. At least, it would have been picturesque, excepting it was dark at the time. It rather reminded me of two years ago when Andrew Beattie and I, by creative navigating, drove from Holland to England via Germany. GPS systems are becoming noticeably more human like!
One thing that most people like about kiteflying is that it's clean, green
and non-polluting- well, ha ha: The travelling aspects of kiteflying are getting really out of hand- especially airtravel. The most efficient commercial jets use an average 4 to 5 litres of fuel per kgm of passenger (or freight) per 10,000 km. To carry my luggage and myself for the average 10 trips around the world I clock up each year therefore, about 15 tonnes of kerosene is burnt off into the stratosphere!
Another thing that people like about kiteflying is that it's inexpensive,
stress free, and relaxing. But they're wrong about this as well- and anyone who thinks it is these things is either not doing it right- or is getting kiteflying confused with lunching at Dino's- which can leave participants in a confused state I have to say!
Which brings the topic around to kitesailing- on account of my having recently interrupted some of these lunches for just this- yes I know you're probably questioning my sanity about now.
Anyway, A few months ago yachting authorities world wide moved to outlaw the use of kites in many sanctioned events, including in the America's Cup and most other racing- and for speed sailing. This was obviously a conservative reaction to what they see as emerging disruptive technology- in that they were happy enough to accept and include kite power until it became clear that kites were becoming a viable alternative to traditional sails for many on-the-water wind powered activities.
There remain many sailing activities which are outside their control, but there is no doubt that this move will slow the acceptance of kites as sails.
In the long term though, I expect this rejection to help rather than hurt the growth of kitesailing- because a bit of persecution always works to strengthen embryonic groups- the early church for example- and because now we are free to develop our own structures without having to bow to the conventional sailng craft regulatory framework, which is generally inappropriate and restricting for kite powered craft.
In the short term, there is an interesting effect that yachting authorities seem not to have anticipated.
Last week while playing truant from one of Dino's lunches, I was quietly minding my own business out on the Adriatic, kite sailing (KiteCat) from A to B or maybe from B to C, when I crossed paths with a yacht race in progress. Very quickly I was being attended on, yelled at and harassed by two chase boats.
My first reaction, for about 2 seconds, was of course to tack clear. My actual response was to hail; "Which part of F#*%!NG STARBOARD don't you understand, you dinosaurs".
You see, as I understand this situation, there is no way that kitesailers can now be held to the complex rules governing right's of way between converging yachts in racing situations. Nor do I feel bound by courtesy to any greater extent than it would be reciprocated- that is, by my experience, a big fat arrogant zero.
Rather, the governing law for conventional sailing craft on converging courses with kite powered craft is the "International rules for the avoidance of collision at sea", a much simpler and clearer set of principles, by which the starboard course craft (which I was) has right of way in this situation. There are some exceptions to this of course- within harbours and by local gazetting for example- but nothing that's likely to have been applicable at that time and place.
I'm not advocating that we should deliberately disrupt the activities of our fellow water users- what I am saying is that when we are going about our own lawful activities, we should know and be governed by, and only by, the applicable laws- to do otherwise would be unpredictable- and ultimately unsafe.
* Seagull management: fly in, squawk a lot, shit on everything, fly out.
Ashburton, 5 May '05
Within 3 hours of Elwyn and I arriving home from Italy this morning, the new 1000sq.m USA Flag kite had it's first flight (see photo).
It was out of it's bag, tied off and up within 15minutes of our arriving at
the test site (Tommy Corbett's farm). It looks magnificent, 100% successful, no changes to make except some minor adjustments to 5 rear bridle lines.
On account of David himself having a headache, Gomberg Kite Productions International's Jim Martin came over for the, um, initiation ceremony- and to catch up with some basic flying techniques we have learnt from earlier mega kites. Jim's paying very close attention- as on May 28th he will be flying it at a Nascar event in Charlotte North Carolina.