No funny stories this month, just two announcements:
Jenny Cook and Craig Hansen are now the operators of Peter Lynn Kites Ltd, and will be buying Elwyn and I out of this business over the next few years.
Peter Lynn Kites Ltd is our Ashburton based kite manufacturing and distribution company. PLK Ltd makes and sells maxi single line kites worldwide, makes mega kites - Megabite, Mega Ray, Kuwait Flag, US Flag, and one they are working on now which you’ll get to hear about in a month or so.
PLK Ltd also buys in (from Vlieger Op) and distributes Peter Lynn traction kites to the Southern Hemisphere. And makes and distributes the KiteCat worldwide, and ditto the ********. —whoops I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, but there is a new product, see below.
This isn’t actually a change of direction for Jenny, Elwyn, or I, it’s just formalising the arrangement that we’ve been working towards for a few years now.
Day to day, none of us will be doing anything different to what we have been. Elwyn and I will still own and operate Peter Lynn Ltd - which designs and develops new kites and kite related products, owns the intellectual property (IP) on same, and owns the Peter Lynn brand name.
Our company, Peter Lynn Ltd, licenses these things to various operators, the main ones being:
- Vlieger Op (traction kite products; kite boarding, buggying and related )
- Gomberg Kite Productions International (single line kites up to and including midi sizes).
- and now, Peter Lynn Kites Ltd (maxi single line kites, mega kites, some buggies, KiteCats and the latest - see below.)
It is, however, rather a change of direction for Craig Hansen. Craig (nearly 45 but coy about it) is a recycled Zimbabwean, and kite enthusiast (sports, traction and single line) from way back. Intent on not being in Zimbabwe for the final phase of Robert Mugabe’s stewardship, Craig came to Ashburton in 2000 to take up an IT project for a local veterinary practice; his family joined him in 2002.
Within a year he had his own thriving computer business (Genesys computers) and was working 24/7 just to keep up. Occasional breaks for kite flying, especially buggying, became his time out. I can recall when we first met; at Argyle park , the birthplace of the kite buggy. It took some time to convince him that I was indeed "the" Peter Lynn. Ha ha.
Anyway, from then on, events became rather inevitable- he thought he’d just washed up in hog heaven- will you disabuse him of this or will I? Craig will be progressively engaging with Peter Lynn Kites Ltd (it’s next door to Genesys) over the next year or so as Elwyn and I concentrate more on the licensing side of things. He will be an excellent complement to Jenny, couldn’t wish for better- so we’re now amongst the very few people in this world who have reason to thank Mugabe for something!
Day to day, there won’t be any noticeable changes here- Jenny will still do everything that matters, I’ll still be playing around developing kites and things, and going to far too many festivals- and Elwyn will still be office wallah, general hostess and mother to us all. There’s an addition to the team is all - Craig.
The new thing?
With respect to things you sit in to enjoy traction kiting (disregarding the couch potato’s extreme kiteboarding watching equipment), I had thought traction kiting was a two act play: Kiteboats and kite buggies. Seems it’s actually a three act play.
Finally we now have a buggy that works properly on snow...
You probably think the world already knows every possible way to make such a thing- well think again! This is really out of left field- and it will finally establish kite buggies for snow use- because it works!
The principle driving this development was simple- it’s just the solution that wasn’t.
Very shortly after developing the kite buggy in 1990 we fitted ice runners and snow skis to them. But big enough accessible areas of useable ice is rare- it gets snow on it – and just fitting skis to buggies in place of wheels never worked that well:
Firstly; because each ski didn’t, (couldn’t), lean over to just the precise angle required at every instant to hold their edge against the side load from the kite. Kite skiers are successful (442 km in just 24 hours recently across Greenland!) because they can do this, but they have the benefit of the finest feedback and control mechanism ever developed- excepting for the domestic cat’s management of their "owners".
Secondly, when turning,. the buggy’s ski’s had to sweep out a wider path through the snow, and their edges (being straight) no longer matched the curved edge of snow they were running against- so their drag increased hugely. Every time you turned even a smidgen it was like putting the brakes on. This remained a problem for all except very hard snow conditions even with the short wide V form ski’s with central ice blades that ourselves and others eventually developed for snow buggies. The consequence of these shortcomings has been that snow buggies have not developed any significant market, even while snow kiting began to explode.
The answer(s) we have found are to make the skis bend into curves for steering and to make them with a stepped cross section so as to be able to generate side force in hard and soft snow and without leaning. Getting the ski’s to bend enough to get a usefully tight turning circle was not easy (now down to 8m).
The solution was to make them of multiple longitudinal elements, connected together so that they can slide lengthways relative to each other a bit while remaining constrained vertically and laterally. See photos.
The name we have coined for this system is MECS; Multiple Element Curving Skis.
It’s the breakthrough we’ve sought for so long..
Turning is like being on rails- no sideslip, no slowing down- quite frighteningly fast.
It was also immediately obvious that this idea has applications far beyond kite traction.
Of course, when you see it working it’s such an obvious idea that I can’t help but wonder why it hasn’t already been done- but I’ve thought this about every one of our successful new ideas for 35 years.
As yet there’s no indication from anywhere that MECS aren’t original- but going public will be the best test of this assumption. We’ve now filed a patent application for the key features- so that licensing other applications can hopefully pay for the considerable investment that will be required in the manufacturing process we want to use for the ski elements (sintering) on production KiteSleds. Even if we’re prevented from getting IP on this by some obscure prior invention that I don’t know about yet, at least we should still be able to make and sell MECS equipped snow buggies- which is after all what matters for snow kiting.
In the short term each ski element will be machined from solid UHMW polyethylene bar- which takes longer, but allows for tinkering with shape.
Available now on order from Peter Lynn Kites Ltd.
Ashburton, July 29th ‘05 - but will have been a bit late being
sent out while waiting for the MECS filing to become official.