Issue 63: Red Bull Revisited

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
Perth, Australia

Red Bull FlugTag
London, UK

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:

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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!

John Barresi