Issue 2: UK View

Well the first festival of the year has come and gone. We were very lucky; most of the country seemed to be having real problems with the weather, but we sailed on through with just a small snow flurry at the end of the Saturday. The rest of the festival passed with sunshine and wind. Blackheath spring festival is known as the wake up call here in the UK; this is when the new season starts. This is the festival where most of the fliers get to see the new kites for the first time.

Tim Benson was showing off his new Outer Space. I didn’t get a chance to fly this one, but it sure did look good in Tim’s hands. Wasn’t quite what I was expecting; I thought it would be an outdoors version of the Inner Space. Well maybe it is, but it didn’t look that way. The graphic look to the kite was not what we’ve come to expect from Tim; this kite doesn’t fit into the look of the Inner Space, Box, etc., or even the Phantom. This kite seems to have gone for a much more classic look to the sail, or should that be a classic look with a twist.  Also a departure from the norm for Tim was the aspect ratio of this kite. We’ve all become accustomed to a high aspect look to Tim’s kites, but this one bucks the trend again with a definitely low aspect look. I asked Tim about this and he said he was trying to keep some precision to the kite along with the trick ability.

Next in line we had Andy Preston showing off his new Stranger Level 7. Man that’s one strange kite. Now this is what we’ve come to expect from Andy; if it can really go off the wall, AP will do it and he has. Yep, people have played with curved spine before and of course curved leading edges have been with us for a while now, but no one has gone to the extremes that Andy has.  This kite, like its older brother the Stranger, is going to make the pilot change his/her style drastically to get the best out of the kite. I for one will be trying to master this kite.  As with the Stranger, I hope that if I can master this kite it’ll open a whole new set of doors when it comes to flying more conventional kites. I got to have a quick go of the kite on the Sunday and managed to get it to do a few of the things I’d seen on the video.  Don’t ask me how because I just don’t know. Luckily this kite comes with the vid’ and unlike the previous vids’ this one leans much more to the explanation side of things rather than the lifestyle feel of the first couple.

And then there was me. I was hanging out for the weekend showing off mine ( and my company’s new kites for ’98). I had my work cut out with people wanting to try the Midi, Zenith, Passion and the Tram’2000. People seemed to have a few questions about my new role within the company and what it was like letting someone else make my kites. Well, my role is as “Technical support and PR”.  Letting someone else make my kites is a nerve racking affair; think I’ve got the right people, though.

I managed to grab some air time between people playing with my kites. Thought I’d found myself a nice little corner of the arena until I noticed I’d become the fourth cone in a triangular buggy race.  That didn’t work too well and I was lucky to get away without my kite being mashed (Thanks guys).

Now I know it seems like nothing happened at Blackheath other than a load of two line kites and power kites.  That’s just the way my weekend went. I seemed to be right in the middle of all the hardcore two line fliers and just didn’t manage to break out all weekend.

There was a small contingent of The Decorators giving it some all weekend. I think Mark takes it for the longest fly from the boys over the weekend. Poor guy got a lift to the festival from me both days and I got there early. Anyone who’s been to a festival where the Decs’ are will know the boys don’t like to get up too early.

Then there were all the wonderful single line displays that just went right over my head, no pun intended. You see some people’s weekends at festivals are a lazy affair where they can sit back and take it all in and then others have to work. Me–I had to work. Don’t feel too sorry for me though; I could have a real job.

I’ll try to pay more attention next time and break out into the single line field at some time during the weekend. Speaking of which, I think Weymouth will be my next festival. See some of you there.

Chris Matheson

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Author:Chris Matheson

Chris Matheson is a top UK flier and builder. He is the designer of the acclaimed "Sandpiper" line of kites, among others.

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