International Kite Festivals in Grip of Cabana Virus Epidemic!
I've just returned to NZ after four single line kite events in Europe and leave next week for another set of five, in Asia and Europe. In the last 2 years, retirement hasn't exactly worked out as I expected. Rather than having more time to play with my toys, I seem to be going to more and more kite festivals.
Actually, during the last few weeks, I have become unretired again on account of the dual mode kite development (see last month's newsletter) having rapidly become far too exciting not to engage fully with. I won't be cutting back much on single line events because of this though, as kite festivals provide suitable venues for traction kite test flying during those periods when the show kites are up safely and not requiring more than occasional attention- and because sitting on aeroplanes for 3 or 4 days each month provides excellent uninterruptable thinking time.
But after 30 something years of doing international kite festivals, I have noticed a few changes.
There has been the rise of sports kites and later, traction kiting of course, but for single line flying the big change has been the advent of largish ram air inflated theme kites. These things have all made for a greater spectacle and are clearly the driving force behind an ever increasing number of organised kite events.
On the negative side, at these events now, I think I'm seeing ever increasing numbers of kite fliers doing less and less kite flying- a view that is also frequently expressed to me, privately at least, by kite festival organisers.
Are we all getting old, tired and bored then- or is there another reason?
Like the creeping influence of generation Y laziness maybe?
Nah, there's a much more obvious explanation.
We're in the grip of a rampaging epidemic of the cabana virus- which has now spread out from its presumed UK origins and taken root at kite events the world over.
And it's been with us a while too- insidiously working away. The No Limits team from Cuxhaven have been onto this for years- even claim to have invented the declamation I thought I'd originated last week at Cervia: “This is a kite field not a camping ground” (to be used pre-emptively whenever a cabana infected family group is about to be wiped out by a maxi kite ground pass).
Particularly egregious are the cabanas that plant themselves Triffid like on the downwind sides of kite fields so as to be ready to reach out and grab any kites that pass nearby. Lately I'm even seeing juvenile cabana's brazenly self-seeding themselves out into the middle of kite fields. They're a creeping menace!
They're also a very clever virus, like the fungus that changes ant's behaviour so as to cause them to climb to the top of the tallest nearby thing and wave in the wind there until dead and desiccated (for spore dispersal). Cabanas change the behaviour of their otherwise (probably) innocuous occupiers. Cabana minders now sure scare the hell out of me! See photo.
But it's not only that cabanas are a hazard for kites and kite fliers.*
They are also physically taking over kite fields; leaving ever less area for actual kite flying.
And they're using up more and more of the kite flier's ever decreasing baggage allowances, leaving less for kites.
And they're providing a skiving off place during working hours where kite fliers who are so inclined can hide away from the boss's (event organiser's) eagle eye. At least in the old days, zedding-off was in full view.
Even more worryingly, cabanas are using up rip stop nylon that could otherwise be going into kites. Nylon is surely, like everything else, a finite and rapidly depleting resource, there's only so much of it to be had- we might already have passed 'peak nylon'. Yikes!
But wait, it gets worse- what if they mutate? - What if somewhere sometime soon, cabana genes mix with k****r, that other great scourge of kite festivals (sorry, but I can't even bring myself to write this dreaded word in full).
It's inevitable I'd say, the end of the world is upon us.
Peter Lynn, Ashburton, 7 May '08