Yes folks, not only have the Kite Performers team succesfully completed another year with the Red Bull Air Races, but their schedule has actually expanded outside the Air Race itself to include some of Red Bull’s Flugtag events which have provided a whole new scope of challenges (flying off boats – for example) and opportunities (new audience demographics)… Alas, I did not make it to any of Flugtag events with the team but I’ve heard great things from the guys, and hope to experience that format at some point in 2009.
Red Bull Air Race
Red Bull FlugTag
In all of 2008 I was only able to participate at the final show in Perth, Australia due to my already gigantic travel schedule with Team iQuad as well as organizing Revolution quad line clinics/workshops throughout the year, but I hope to be available for and earn a more significant presence on the 2009 Kite Performers tour schedule.
Probably the largest single change for the Kite Performers show in 2008 saw single line content eliminated, along with most individual performances (except for crowd interaction with Revolutions)… While the 2007 team certainly offered some of the finest art and large inflatable kites found anywhere in the world, the energy and format of the Red Bull events called for a faster, non-stop, sport-oriented type of performance.
With these changes, the team lost one of the original Kite Performers, Pierre Fabre, who was very instrumental during the early development of the team’s concept with his stunning graphic rendering of what the show would look like. These images played a major role in helping secure the success of this project in the very beginning. No doubt his creative skills will continue to bring him success both in and out of the kiting arena.
In addition to Pierre, we also said goodbye to Ray Bethell who has refocused his energies toward his already large travel schedule around the world.
The Kite Performers:
Carl Robertshaw (UK)
A multiple time European dual and quad line champion and former founding member of world champion team AirKraft with his brother (James), Carl has recently reentered competition after several years of retirement, taking home top awards in both dual and quad.
His company, Robertshaw Kite Related Design not only produces high quality kites, but also develops creative displays for just about any kind of venue.
Chris Goff (UK)
Dubbed “Le Petite Phenom” by his peers in France, he’s already a veteran and one of Europe’s best fliers with both dual and quad line kites, handily winning many of their trick competitions over the past several years… In addition to being a competitive pilot, Chris is also a key componant of the production staff at Robertshaw Kite Related Design.
Ramlal Tien (France)
The man behind L’Atelier, a well known single line and sport kite designer with such classics as the Masque and Transfer… As the Red Bull show has developed, Ramlal has become increasingly active as a performer and competitor, flying as a member of team Lock On with Yasu Numata, Richard Debray and Mathieu Mayet.
Richard Debray (France)
Arguably the best dual line pilot in the world, Richard is a multiple time Euro Cup champion and sponsored R-Sky pilot… He also flies in Pairs competition with Mathieu Mayet, and as a member of team Lock On with Mathieu, Yasu Numata and Ramlal Tien.
Mathieu Mayet (France)
Another top ranked master dual line flier from France, Mathieu a very powerful and highly competitive pilot, continually pushing his pairs partner Richard Debray… Most recently, he signed on as a member of team Lock On with Richard, Yasu Numata and Ramlal Tien.
Gregory Raynes (France)
An all-around master European pilot on both dual and quad line sport kites, Gregory is the full time webmaster of L’Atelier’s web site and actively involved in the research and development of their sport kites.
Sponsored by l’Atelier.
Yasu Numata (France/Japan)
The Kite Performers “team guru”, Yasu led Team Overdrive to a World Championship in 2002 and 2003… Yasu is a true team flying pioneer, having developed a highly effective set of techniques for mapping and timing sport kite team routines.
Lam Hoac (Canada)
Multiple time AKA national champion in both sport kites and kitemaking competition, renowned performer and kite designer (Sky Sport Design).
Lam’s more well known creations include the Sky Master, Sea Devil, Fearless, and other high performance dual lines.
John Barresi (USA)
Flying since 1990 and accumulating more combined AKA championships in dual, quad and team competition than any US flier in history, John recently retired from competition to dedicate his focus towards promoting kiting to larger audiences.
In 2006, John co-founded the quad line sport kite team iQuad which went on to perform at over twenty events in 2007 and over thirty events in 2008.
Bottom line, what we’ve experienced is no slight to the tremendous talents of any given kite maker or pilot… We’re simply contending with a given format and type of audience, and in another type of venue, we might very well see some of these roles and changes reversed, it’s just a matter of the demands, tools and goals set forth by any sponsoring body (such as Red Bull).
With regard to the new performance format at Red Bull shows, the 2008 team utilized a more seamless approach to the show and continually flowing performances of anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours with interchanging, 4 and 5 man dual/quad teams, mega team (8 pilots), as well as fast and dynamic pairs routines.
Running point for the team, Carl Robertshaw skillfully coordinated the Kite Performers show execution, led the mega team (flying the Fury), and even the quad team (during my lengthy absence), Yasu Numata led the four man dual line team performances (flying the Black Bird), while Mathieu Mayet and Richard Debray rocked out their dual line pairs (flying the Masque)… Day to day concept and show layout was a group project, taking the very best from each of the team members (all veteran pilots).
Briefly mentioned above, the team again utilized crowd interaction at the end of some performances, taking to the sky with their custom Revolution Kites, allowing the audience to see these kites up close, as well as giving them the opportunity to talk to some of the pilots and learn more about the show.
What does it all mean? In my humble opinion, and based on my experiences over the past couple of years, both with the Kite Performers and with my own team (iQuad), there is indeed a ready market for sport kite performance worldwide, given the right combnation of organizational and piloting skills, provided it’s packaged smartly and efficiently.
Let’s go get ’em!