Issue 50: ProFile: Carl Robertshaw

One of the true greats of kiting, Carl has definitely made his mark in kiting history… As a member of world champion team Airkraft, winning multiple European championships of his own, as one of the top kite designers in the world, and as a very fine and generous (if not occasionally off-color) fellow.

But Carl is not only an extremely competent pilot, he’s also one of the premier designers and builders of competitive sport kites alive today. In the most recent World Sport Kite Championships, four of the teams on the field were flying Robertshaw kites. In addition, Carl builds top-quality Single Line Kites that fly extremely well and are exciting to see in the sky. And if you wish, Carl will build a kite to order, or design and produce fabric structures with visual appeal and functionality. While his flying is terrific, Carl’s designing and building capabilities place him at the top of the heap in a growing market.

One of the things that has always caught my eye about Carl is his presence, ability and style… One of “those” who can walk out onto a field and make an impact with just about any kind of kite, in any kind of venue, and take things in stride – all the while pushing himself to new heights.

Hello, Carl. Let’s start this interview off the easy way. How did you first get started in organized kiting? When did that happen, what got you started, and what really grabbed your interest so that you stayed?

I’ve always had a kite since I was little, like most kids, but what really got me started was going to the Kite Store in Covent Garden, London when I was a teenager. There were these amazing structures on the wall – carbon fibre sport kites, and all the magazines and great lakes videos. I got a couple of magazines (SKQ and Kite Lines), went home with some glass fibre and rip stop and made a small stack of diamond stunters. They were great. Then I was given a sewing machine by one of my Mum’s friends and I made trousers, single line and some more two line kites.

That was it! I was hooked.

I moved to London to start my degree course in Graphic design at Central St Martins. Quite a privilege because it is considered the Oxford and Cambridge for Graphic design, and, it was just round the corner from the Kite Store. I found an excuse to go in every day(!) The kites I made (copies of the ones on the wall) worked and there was a good healthy scene in London. This was 1991. I joined STACK, and went to a few winter leagues. Andy Preston was in London, flying with Chris (Matheson) and the Decorators, the Blitz were all flying in London at the time.

Once you got rolling, who did you fly with and who acted as your teacher or mentor? Did you join a club, or hang out with a group of fliers, or just fly alone?

Joining STACK, meeting these cool guys and flying with them really got me rolling. But my major influence came when I went to Australia for a 6 month exchange program with my degree course. I got a round the world ticket, so I planned to stop off in Hawaii for the Hawaii Challenge, then returning via San Diego. In Hawaii I saw High Performance (who I’d seen at the first festival I went to – Bristol World Championships 1991- they won!) and they were amazing to watch.

When I was in Australia I flew in a team that the local shop had put together. We weren’t that great, but it gave me a good grounding and I learnt a few good life lessons then. I didn’t like the degree course exchange so I didn’t go often. I flew virtually every day for the 6 months I was there and got a lot of practice in! I made and sold some kites and saved up for a ticket to Japan to the 1992 World championships. I went just to watch. But there I met up with Alan Nagao and High Performance – familiar faces (they recognized me! Which was a great boost), the UK teams from home. The best bit was talking to Ron Reich and asking him where Top of the Line practiced. He drew me a map to their training field. So I planned to meet up with them in San Diego. I did and it was brilliant, pressing the play and stop buttons for them, and them flying their world class routines right in front of me, some that I’d only seen on the Great Lakes videos back home.

When they stopped for lunch, I asked Ron if I could fly with him. He got up. I said “I mean can I fly with the team”. He smiled and they all obliged. I couldn’t believe my luck. Mike kindly stepped out for me to fly no.2 position and they took me through some manouvres. It was great, because I would get it wrong the first time, then be spot on the second time around. Pam Kirk chuckling on my left as I nailed every move – I was determined to get it right. Ron kept coming out with more difficult moves ending with full team refuels and full speed control doughnuts. It lasted an hour, but I had the best time. And of course, what better lesson could a student from London get after flying for just a year.

I loved flying by myself, but when I got back to London I had to team fly…

Regardless of who you hung with, by now you were intoxicated with the “Joy of Flying.” Tell us a bit about how you felt with a kite in your hands, and how it changed your outlook on life.

Yes, I was “intoxicated” but one thing is always the same. Every time I go out to fly, it’s like the first time. That sounds really cheesy, but it puts me in an optimistic mood and it’s different every time. There is something therapeutic about looking up, especially in a city where everyone looks down.

I’ve learned many life lessons from being around kites and so many different people, especially traveling all over the world with kites. It’s a great common starting point that delivers such rich experiences from so many different things.

Kiting has broadened my horizons, given me a platform to exercise my creative juices in 2D and 3D design and pays the bills!

Sooner or later, you got to the point where you wanted to compete. Was that a natural outgrowth of flying, or did someone approach you directly to start competing? Tell us about your early comps, Carl.

I got started in the winter leagues around London in 1991. It was a natural thing to do as it was more of a social thing than trying to be the best. I wasn’t that good – I was an average flyer. But when I came back after 6 months from my time traveling and flying around the world, I had gained so much experience I had probably jumped 3 years in the learning curve. I came back a much more confident and focused flyer.

Nic (Boothby) and Jeremy (Boyce, who owned High as a Kite, Kite shop) had left their team called Merlin. We decided to form a team. We needed another flyer to make up our four. For the first year we flew with Art (Silva) who was also in Merlin. We spent ages working out other Teams moves and routines and learning the best way to do stuff. Practice, practice and more practice got us to what we thought was a good level.

At our first competition on Blackheath in London we started practicing (with home made North Shore Radicals) at 7:30 am, way before anyone else, to be ready and warmed up for the competition a couple of hours later. The other teams turning up started making comments. One was “someone’s been working hard over the winter!” and then another was “what do those characters mean?” We spent weeks deciding on a name. We called ourselves Airkraft with a K. Nic was very keen to have a K not a C. I’d modified a typeface from my course, like Japanese calligraphy. We put two letters each on our black t-shirts, so it spelt Airkraft when we stood in a line.

We won that first round of the British Nationals. Two weeks later we went to Le Touquet with Top of the Line’s very own kites. We had asked them for sponsorship, but we had to prove ourselves first. So after our first win, they agreed to let us have vented kites for the strong wind in France. We won with them.

Okay – by this time, you’re firmly entrenched in the Sport kite competition scheme in Britain and over on the continent. And about now you’ve probably gathered some sponsors, and are well on your way in that regard. Tell us how the sponsorship deals got started and what all that entails.

To get sponsored we stayed in touch with Top of the Line and built up a good relationship with them. Mostly by phone, but also meeting up with them when we could. Having a high profile was good for sponsorship. Winning competitions, socializing, Jeremy writing magazine articles all helped keep our profile up. Manufacturers wanted us to fly their kites. We were set on the North Shore Radical, and after two years of the team, Randy Joe from Spectra Sports asked us what it would take for us to fly Specra Sports. The reply came from Jeremy – “the North Shore!”

Orange mobile phone supplier launched in the UK in 1995. They used kites for their opening ad campaign and wanted to sponsor a team. Our image fitted theirs and they offered us a sizable sponsorship deal that brought us money, free mobile contracts and phones, but meant we had to fly at some strange venues. Rugby grounds and Cricket were the chosen sports. It was difficult to fly maneuvers there, but hardest and most rewarding was to keep on flying while we were heckled, but by the time we had finished our demos the audiences were on our side and got what we were doing.

The next year we changed to Flexifoil as our sponsor, flying the Matrix with money in the equation. It was the best deal, where Flexi encouraged us to keep doing exactly what were known for.

Now, we’ve been asking these questions as if you’re in this sport kite stuff all alone. But that’s not exactly true, is it… I mean, you’ve a brother, James, who’s also a pretty hot sport kite pilot too, haven’t you? How did having a brother in the sport help you to progress? Who led, and who followed? Or did you each push the other one so that you both became better pilots?

James moved to London to start his degree a year after the team started. He won his first competition (Intermediate in the British Nationals!) after I lent him a North Shore for the summer and showed him a few things. He picks stuff up really quickly. A tough choice, but we asked Art to leave the team. Jeremy and Nic both wanted James in the team, but we both knew that we might fight like we used to growing up. We decided to keep things purely professional and see how things go. It worked because now we are very close, having flown together for over 10 years.

He’s been hugely supportive and it’s been brilliant flying with him because we share a lot of similar experiences making communication very easy and we’ve both used the same kites at the same times, so our flying techniques are the same. I guess I push quite hard towards a goal and James has been very important in supporting and allowing me to reach forward as much I want to. We do push each other on and off the field which can only be a good thing and I think it’s more significant because we’re brothers.

Finally, you’re recognized as one of the “hot” pilots – not only in Britain, but in Europe too. For those of us in the USA, how does that work? Would it be analogous to our “Regions” and “National” rankings – where pilots fly within their region, but may also fly competitions in other regions that count for points as well. Finally at the end of our “Competition Year,” the winners of the separate regions all get together at our “Grand Nationals” for a winner-take-all fly-off. So how does STACK handle the rankings?

I haven’t competed for a few years now so I’m a bit out of touch! Though James and I are flying with the Scratch Bunnies as a 6 man competitive team now. The way it works in Europe is similar to the USA. There are national competitions like the Regionals and then there is the European championship like the Grand Nationals where the best pilots from each country fly against each other. The combined score from precision and ballet are combined.

Scratch Bunnies in Berck sur Mer, France.

The ranking system is different to that, as far as I know. It is done over a period of years so you have to have flown for a while before you get any recognition.

Anyway, by now you’re really pretty integrated into the competition scheme. What did the associations with other competition pilots, this “camaraderie,” mean to you? And who were you always competing against, beside James? Who was your real competition?

The camaraderie was brilliant when we were competing. The strong field of quality fliers with great skills and loads of personality meant we all pushed each other. There was a buzz and we all felt like we were doing something special.

Skydance and Lung Ta were the two main teams around at the time that pushed Airkraft, and High Performance and Top of the Line were our inspiration. We always imagined we were competing against them, using them as our benchmark. Speedy, Robo and Piere Marzin were the indi flyers and they were pushing the envelope of what could be done. There was this 16 year old in the States too (called John Barresi!) that was doing this trick called an axel. I practiced and practiced to axel. Thanks John, that was my high point in the routine that I won with at the European championships in Vienna in 1993.

And eventually, you also ended up flying Pairs with your brother James too, first as PairKraft, and then as Evolver! So you have flown individually (both Dual line and Quad line), and have flown both in a Pairs team and a larger team.

Well, the quote we found on a British festival’s website said:

In recent years Carl has won virtually every sport kite championship and competition going whether as a member of the former UK sport kite team ‘Airkraft’, as the pair Evolver with his brother James and also as an individual dual and quad line flyer.

Flying pairs with James is really easy because we’ve both traveled the same route flying together. In 1999 we won most of the competitions we entered and won all the competitions (counting them as overall scores) in 2000. We decided to stop competing then, because we’d been flying for 10 years competitively and we wanted to take a step back from competition to concentrate on demonstrating. It’s been great to go to the same events, but with a more relaxed attitude.

And then you came to the USA for the 2005 World Sport Kite Championships, and you also stayed over and competed in the Northwest Sport Kite Championships at Long Beach, Washington, USA. First off, was that an enjoyable outing for you, and secondly, what did you get out of that competition?

That was great because I came to the WC as the sponsor / support for the 4 teams that were flying Furys. To be a free agent and drive up the coast to try out and see the competition in the Northwest was a very rewarding experience.

It’s such a good site and brought back loads of memories from flying there in 1997 at the WC. The wind was super smooth and as Andy Wardley calls it – single cream wind. It was nice to spend time and fly with people who I’ve never met before. It’s a liberating, freeing experience to do that competition because I had little time to prepare and I had no real expectations of the weekend, but came away very rewarded and buzzed up by the flying and social time I spent there. Everyone was very welcoming and I really felt included which was the best thing I’ll take away from the trip.

All right, time to switch the line of our questions again, this time toward kite design and kitebuilding. When did you first start playing with sewing machines and bits of fabric and spars and odd pieces of line? How did that come about, and what were you attempting to accomplish?

I’ve always made my own kites besides being sponsored for flying in competition. I love single line kites and they provide a great release from the pressure of competition. The basic physics and design have always fascinated me, and I’ve played with colour and form since I started with kites. I make kites to experiment with ideas for graphics mostly, but form is the real challenge. I love making stuff. Before kites I made models for a model shop in Manchester. I love the process of putting bits together and seeing the finished result is always a rewarding experience.

I’ve still got most of my first kites I made and the broken spars from over 10 years ago. They’re still useful for making fitting and parts for one off structures now.

Now from what we can gather, your friend Andy Preston came up with the design for the kite called the Matrix, and you eventually created a downsized version of that kite which became the Dot Matrix. Were you also involved with Andy in the original efforts on the Matrix? And what “need” did you see or feel that caused you to go ahead and create the downsized Dot? How did all that really happen, Carl?

We were sponsored by Flexifoil. James had a Psycho, and I wanted one, but had already asked for a lot of kit from them. I thought it would be too much to ask for a Psycho, so I asked Andy about making a ¾ size Matrix, because we thought it would have similar characteristics to the Psycho. It was similar, but with more precision. I made a couple out of 2nd fabric for me and James. They got a lot of attention and I made a few more from Icarex, then Flexi offered it to me to make. It got me started on the sport kite manufacturing route, and we sold a lot of them. I still see them years after and they are still going strong.

The Matrix was a good kite when we got our hands on Andy’s first 4 prototypes, and I could feel it was close to being a great team kite. I redesigned the bridle so we had a kite that felt more like our style and would hold up better to buffeting and turbulence. That’s all that was needed for the Matrix. Although the vented was a big challenge. It always is – to get the kite to fly with the same feel in 2mph as 35mph+. It took longer than expected but eventually we had a set of kites that felt right through the whole wind range.

Then there was a period when you were developing a series of “moderate” level sport kites for Flexifoil – the Atom, Orbit and Pulsar. Rather than designing a full-bore Master’s level kite, you were creating kites to be mass produced for beginner and intermediate levels of sport kite pilots. How did that come about, and how do you feel about the results of those efforts?

Flexi asked me to design a set of three kites for their entry level range. It was a challenge to design kites to specific parameters – price, size and performance. And it was the challenge that was the main reason for designing them. The money has been a bonus! The Matrix was a strong kite and there was no need or reason for producing or designing another full size kite. I like the beginners kites, because it’s where most people get their first taste of what I feel when I go out and fly.

Finally (or should we say “more recently?”), you designed and developed the Fury – initially with Skyshark spars, and then with the optional Aerostuffs, followed by a Flexifoil license of the design. And to supplement that design, you’ve since created the .85 and now the .95 versions of the Fury…

The Fury has been years in coming about. I couldn’t fly moves like yo-yos and the comet on the Matrix. So I started thinking of how to make the best kite I could. I had the idea of the adjustable trailing edge and the covered leading edge at the same time, so it was included quite easily into the design process.

The design from the outset was for a full size sport kite that could perform all the new tricks, and still hold all the precision of the team kites I used to fly. Yasu in France said something very wise – if it’s good and easy for a beginner to fly, it’s perfect for team flying. The different sail fabrics and framing options were on the table from the start, so designing the Fury was not a simple job. I used to go out at night, in the winter, after work on Blackheath here in London to test the different models. There were three kites to test each time, so there are a lot of prototypes. On the field I had a score sheet to rate all the different aspects of the kite and its performance which helped a lot when trying to make fine adjustments, because one change would affect other aspects. I was able to be methodical to the design process, not just creating it by trial and error.

The Fury.85 and .95 came later as a need for smaller versions. I made a Fury.80 first to give it more precision than the standard ¾ size. The .80 was a bit too twitchy – more like the Dot Matrix, so I tried a .85 (85% of the full size model) and it did the job. Small and very tricky with more precision than most full size kites.

The Fury.95 has been commissioned exclusively by Dualine kites (who also make the fantastic Aero Stuff spars) in Japan for their smaller fliers. Ninja are flying with them and they look very sharp. I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop over the next few years.

First of all, what kind of a kite were you trying to create in designing and building the original Fury? And are all the follow-on variations simply an outgrowth to supplement the “line” or did the buyers by and large request these modifications and prices and different sizes? And we should probably ask, how successful has the Fury been – both in terms of meeting or exceeding the original design aims, and also from a business / financial perspective?

I wanted to make a sport kite that had everything that was needed and none of the superficial elements that were around – like big heavy Mylar panels, lots of stand offs and stuck on black lines, holes or Velcro dots. The different models were all in the plan for the basic design so I had to fit a lot into the design brief. It was very helpful going through the process with Flexifoil (because they were going to produce one of the models). I got a lot of experience and feed back from them, giving me focus and confidence.

The Fury has been very successful in my opinion. I didn’t know how well it would go down with other people, but I knew it was right for me and I had to be true to myself.

We’ve sold quite a few of them and most competitors in the UK have been flying them for a couple of years now. It’s a great privilege and compliment to see them in the hands of other flyers. It has exceeded my expectations and I hope we’re still making them for some time yet.

Finally – before we start asking about other kites and kite-related efforts – what do you see yourself doing in future sport kite activities? Will you stay active in the genre, and do you see Sport Kiting remaining a long-term “focus” for Carl Robertshaw and for Kitestudio? If so – any ideas you’d care to share regarding what’s next on the kite design-board?

I hope to still be demonstrating for a long time yet. James and I are flying as a 6 person team with the Scratch Bunnies and I hope we’re invited to the next WC to compete. It’s a great routine, and it’s brilliant to fly, so I’m looking forward to the next year or so, getting in the arena with the other guys and flying team again.

Sport kites are small but a solid part of the business. They are in the plan for the future and hopefully we’ll find time to develop new kites, but as of now there are no plans on the board to develop anything in the next year.

Okay – we may have gotten a bit ahead of ourselves, here. Somewhere in the mix of all of your kiting efforts and delights, you made a BIG transition – moving from Full-Bore Kite Pilot into becoming an Entrepreneur – the Owner / General Manager of a business now called the “Kitestudio.”

The business has come around organically. I’ve always made kites since I started. The Kite Store and High as Kite in London asked me to make custom made kites for them which started me off as a professional kite maker. I made other stuff too – like screens and flags.

That was nearly 10 years ago and the business has grown with the variety and range of designs we’ve been commissioned to make. It’s a big challenge to produce designs that aren’t kites, using kite materials, but that’s great to take “kites” out of the kite world and explore what can be done with them in relation to architects, designers and events.

When and how did all that come about? What prompted you to begin making your living designing and building kites and kite-related “constructs,” for lack of a better term? And how has that business progressed for you? What’s the current mix of kite efforts versus kite-related special projects for the firm? And, are you Kitestudio’s only employee, or have you other people aboard as well? If so, how many employees have you currently?

Making 3D designs based on kite materials and construction techniques have always been on the menu for us. The mix was 50/50 a few years ago, and the kite side of the business hasn’t increased, it’s not something I want to over do. The market is small and we fit into a neat and comfortable corner of that. The 3D design side of the business has grown a great deal as we’ve made some amazing contacts that have given us interesting and challenging projects. My team flying background has put me in good stead for this job. There are 4 of us currently in the business. Helen and me full time and 2 part time staff. We get people to come in to work as and when we need them, so our full compliment of staff is quite large for a small company of our size.

Time to switch again to the other more traditional kites designed and produced by Kitestudio. First off, please tell us how you came to design and produce that marvelous Carl Robertshaw Delta Serpent. Having seen them in the air, we have to comment that they’re absolutely stunning in flight. How much design effort and kite-prototyping did you do before you achieved the Delta Serpent’s gorgeous flight profile? Can we assume that you’ll continue to custom-produce them to order in the future, as you are doing now?

We’ll defiantly keep producing the Deltas because they are stunning. They’re easy to make too. The simplest things are always the best. I made one – it worked, so all I’ve done is reproduce the first design, and changed the graphics. They look great en mass, and more people are flying them together which is brilliant to see.

You also offer a host of other excellent flying single-line kites to order – the Jordan Airforms, Rokkakus, Multiflares, and traditional Deltas. What prompts you to produce these kites to custom specifications for purchasers? Will these more traditional kites remain in the Kitestudio stable of offerings, or do you see that effort eventually dying out sometime in the future?

The kite stores have asked us to make specific designs for their customers and we offer the same kites direct from us. We specialize in making custom made kites (like the 3D design projects) so it’s easy to make one design one day and change the studio set up for another project the next.

Dean designed the Airform years ago, the tails were the most attractive aspect of the design, and I had loads of ideas for graphics for the sail cells. Dean agreed to me making a couple for the London Kite festival and last year we were commissioned to make 5 for a customer, so that set us up (with Dean) as the UK/European manufacturer of the one off custom Airforms.

I don’t see this part of the business dying out because it’s what the business is grounded in and where it all started, and it keeps us on our toes with manufacturing and customer service quality.

And we notice the Kitestudio also offers other “custom kite-building” services to client specifications on a wide variety of kite platforms, including Edos, Genkis, and a variety of other kites and kite paraphernalia. Can you tell us about those efforts – especially some of those jobs you particularly enjoyed? How much of this “custom” work do you do, and how frequently?

In summer we’ll make twice as many custom made kites as the winter, but that’s obvious as it’s a seasonal market. The custom made kites are very rewarding because we keep in close contact with the customer and they get what they want.

I really like appliqué and doing a kite with lots of layers to the image is great. One of my favorites was the Edo for Karl Hensinger. He ordered a “Tron” Edo with a very complex design. The pictures are on our site. It took over 80 hours to draw, sew and cut the layers of fabric, but the result is stunning.

The other kite that hits the jackpot for me is one we made for Andy and Helen Phelps. Helen and I had secret meetings to plan the present to Andy for their wedding and it took 2 full weeks to make. All the sewn threads, silver and blue, are left long – not cut, and the glass beads in the sail look fantastic in sunlight… This design can also be found on our site.

We make most items clients ask us to – if we can’t we refer them to the best person / manufacturer for their requirements. I think it’s important to be inclusive.

And – here’s your chance to talk about those Kitestudio Accessories listed on your website. It seems to us that the Flinga might want a little discussion here, since not many people know about that item. And, are there any other Accessories that you feel need special mention?

The Flinga is a great little hot cookie. There are other flat flying disks around, but they don’t fly well. I got thinking and messing around with sewing techniques, and 2 and 2 came together to make a soft disk that flies straight. Dog owners like them particularly because the dogs can put as many holes in them as they like and the Flingas don’t suffer. They stuff in your pocket! Straps and airbrakes for sport kites make up the rest of the accessories we make, and they are good for filling in the down time someone might get in the studio.

As far as the other accessories we sell, Aerostuff is the best thing we’re doing now. They are fantastic spars and no one can quite put it into words, but it’s the way they feel – to touch, to fly on and how much better you feel when you flying with an Aerostuff frame in the kite.

And finally, it’s time to ask you about the not-so-well-known portion of the Kitestudio business – the efforts and products you call “3D Design” on your website. How did you get started in these “special projects,” and how much of Kitestudio’s efforts are involved in these efforts, Carl?

The kite side of the business is a main part as I’ve said, but the balance is weighted towards the 3D design side of the business. The 3D design projects have been there from the start of the business, and now most of our turnover comes from these commissions.

Please tell us a bit about those 3D efforts you particularly enjoyed. We’re quite interested in hearing about projects that broke new ground for you, or were especially well-received by the clients, or led to subsequent contracts.

The Balrog for the Lord of the Rings stage musical is the biggest project we’ve done. It’s probably been the best as well because it’s involved all of the best aspects of a project:

Working with one of the best designers in the UK, travel abroad, working in Flexifoil’s garage, using inflatable sections, producing something that no-one would ever believe it was kite fabric, and fitting all onto a 4 ton metal skeleton.

We can’t show pictures yet because it is due to open in London next year, and the producers want to carefully control the publicity. That’s fine with us, because the bigger the show is, the more we can gain from it.

The other best projects have been the Japan nightclub installations. It seems mad to fill a massive club full of decorations just for one night, but the experience has been well worth it. Great clients too. That is always a bonus. The Lord Mayor’s show has been the other high point. Jane Ripley the designer has been fantastic to work with because of her endless enthusiasm and great design eye. We’ve had a great time together working on mad projects.

It’s not out of character for her to call up, out of the blue and say, “I know it’s short notice, I’m with the client now, and I’ve had this mad idea. Can you make a 9m inflatable yellow radio?” Of course I’m going to say yes!

Assuming that Kitestudio plans to continue to serve the needs of the “3D” market in the future, how do you handle the marketing, design phase, and production phases of these efforts? And we’ll assume that they’re at least lucrative enough to Kitestudio to make them worth doing, right?

It has to pay the bills, and when it can’t do that, it’s time to stop. We’ve got loads of interesting jobs coming up, planned right into 2007 and 2008, so for now, there no signs that we should stop.

WHEW – what a bunch of “stuff” we’ve covered here! Please bear with us, Carl. We only have a couple of more subject-areas to discuss, and then we’re done.

We asked early on about companies that sponsored you during your early flying experiences. And now – we’re going to ask you about the fliers that YOU sponsor. Yes, we all know the good words about promoting your products, and “seeding kiting with the next generation,” but please tell us what prompts you to sponsor these particular pilots. Why are these individuals important enough to you to warrant your sponsorship?

The sponsored fliers are our most trusted and committed fliers. They are first and foremost ambassadors for the sport and the wider world of kites. They have chosen to fly the Fury, rather than the other way round.

Sponsored teams from the
2006 World Sport Kite Championships:

When we got together to test the prototype Furys we started talking about a six person team. Since then Chris Goff has matured and we are a collection of 7 fliers that can fly team, so all areas are covered.

Finally, we’ve touched on nearly everything we can imagine except for one thing – Carl Robertshaw, the individual! When there’re no kites around and no business needs left to attend to, what do you particularly enjoy doing with whatever spare time and effort you have left? What re-energizes you, brings you personal peace, “centers” you, or lights your fire, Carl? Yes, it’s all free form here. It’s your chance to let lose! Go – – –

That’s a hard question. Cleaning, cooking, getting up really early – no I’m joking. I must have been a cat in my previous life, because I like eating and sleeping in the best. I don’t really get going until after lunch. The rest is another interview in itself…

Carl, thank you SO much for making the time and effort to share all this with us. You’ve been such an integral part of the whole kiting scene throughout Britain, Europe, and the entire world for so many years that you’re almost a global fixture – and one of the great ones at that! We’re delighted to have someone of your caliber share his information with us. So a profound “Thank You” for all you’ve done and continue to do for the entire kiting community!

Thanks for the chat. I’m looking forward to catching up with you soon, on some field, somewhere in the world.


Interview by John Barresi & Dave Shattuck