Issue 66: REVisions – Summer Swing!

It never fails, I always end up writing Revisions in some odd location a wee bit crunched for time and no idea where to start! This issue’s odd location? Seat 35B on Delta Flight 3516, heading to Grand Haven, MI, via Minneapolis/Chicago. This is my third trip to the illustrious festival; however, I’ll write about that in a separate article in this issue, this one is focused on all things quad.

It’s looking like the biggest Quad party of the year will be WSIKF this coming August, the beach at Long Beach, Washington from August 17 to 23.  A rough guess from this point in time suggests we may have as many as 40 flyers out on the beach by the weekend. I think that’s enough for a party eh? Part of me deeply missed being at WSIKF last summer, my first “miss” of it in 6 years, however, given I was with iQuad over in England for our trips to Portsmouth and Bristol, I felt it was probably the best reason one could hope to have to miss WSIKF. But this year, iQuad returns to WSIKF as “featured guests” and return in force we shall! The rough plan right now is for us to begin arriving by the Monday and during the week, the number of quad flyers will grow day by day, culminating in perhaps the biggest numbers North America has ever seen at one time.

But, with numbers beyond about 16 or so, it becomes tricky to fly with the “traditional” straight line approach becomes somewhat problematic. The follows become unmanageably long and the people at the far end of the line will real issues hearing unless everyone manages to show up equipped with radios. Actually, now there’s an idea! If possible, its –highly recommended- that you bring along one of those little walkie talkie that seem to be pretty common, with some headphones. The more that are prepared with this, the easier it will be for everyone! Your standard Cobra or Midland radios work great.

I digress! The approach for the large numbers group will follow what was established over the spring and summer of last year’s 20th anniversary parties in England and Japan, the Grid. Initially an idea of The Decorators Felix Mottram and furthered along by The Flying Squad’s Stephen Hoath, this arrangement of flyers allowed ut crest 50 flyers at a few points last year and is now proven as an entirely awesome way to handle large groups. Plus, it looks simply fantastic from the spectator’s point of view. A full article that I wrote upon returning last fall is linked “here” and for a video look at it (sometimes these things are easier to “see” than explain…) is located below :

You’ll notice something while watching the video. There’s one key skill that will be a very necessary one to have under your control. The upright facing hover. Much time is spent within the grid with your leading edge facing up so it becomes critical to be able to hold this for very long periods of time. While this isn’t much of a problem in higher winds (and we certainly see this at WSIKF sometimes!) it’s a little trickier in lower winds. One thing I’ve done in a couple of situations was as soon as we were about to deal with some Grid play, I’d move my top knots on my handles back one knot, just to easily get that extra lift ore consistently. It’ll save you a little arm strength and help keep you from having to constantly nurse your top lines to hold still in a short wind.

Of course, we’ll be playing around all week long, both with traditional team lineups and as the numbers permit (16 and upwards!) we’ll work on the grid as well. Come early and stay all week, I’ve found that’s the single best way to experience all that WSIKF has to offer.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the Revolution forums lately, you may have missed a couple of new products that have sneaked out as the winter ended and the spring began, well, springing. While I mentioned the new B-Pros last issue, the ones sewn by the infamous, no, notorious, no, that’s not it either, how about CELEBRATED Bazzer Poulter, Rev has since upped the ante a wee bit further, allowing Bazzer to finish the entire kite, from start to finish. I’ve seen a few of these new ones firsthand now and all can say is WOW, they are simply the best Revs ever produced.

Immediately obvious at first glance is Bazzer’s take on the leading edge ends. Crisply folded nice in such a way that they will never ever fray at all! Superb! Also, the trailing edges themselves a touch stiffer/tighter than previous Revs, given a slightly better performance in reverse. I’ll weigh in again on these kites in the next issue, this weekend in Grand Haven will mark the first time I actually get to spend some time with these kites. Available in nearly any color pattern you can come up with (of course within the limits of available material, and cut with the B-Series sail pattern) you owe it yourself to give one of these “super” Revs a go sometime soon. And when you are ready to buy one, contact either your local kite shop or Revolution directly.

At some point while iQuad was down at the first festival of the year for us, at South Padre Island, I noticed Mr. Barresi had a slightly odd set of handles. They looked they had been machined by some kind of talented lathe operator and were solid aluminum. Also, they were completely lacking in the clips up on the top and bottom of the handles. Intrigued, I asked him where they had come from, and I found that Walt Ellis, the person who’s been making the great machined kite stakes had also made these up as a prototype set. And this was the point where I began hounding Ben D’Antonio for a set of them.

They arrived into my hot little monkey hands just before we headed off to Baton Rouge for a festival down there (also written up in this issue) and flew on them all weekend. I really liked them and I don’t plan on flying on anything else any time soon. A little bit lighter than the “traditional” Rev handles, they are also available in different lengths. I chose what’s been my standard for more than 13 years now, what used to be called the SUL handle and now the standard B handle, the 13-inch long ones. The 15-inch handles and I just don’t get along at all.  😀  I haven’t been one to get caught up in the clips on top with the old Rev handles really but, having it a little bit cleaner on the top and bottom of the handles was quite nice!

I only had one personal issue with them, in higher winds; my thumbs would tend to shift around a bit, as it’s simply metal at the top of the handle. In lighter winds this wasn’t issue at all but, as the breezes climbed, I found them shifting around a bit. I tend to ride my thumbs at the very top of the handles at all times except under really heavy (20mph +) so I gave it some thought on my way back from Louisiana and I worked out a dead simple modification. I simply took a spare pair of the rubber protectors from the vertical rods on the back of the kite and popped a hole into the rubber, letting me slip this on over top of the handle leaders. Voila, tons of grip and for me personally, a more comfortable “fit”. I tried them out the next weekend and it’s exactly what I needed. Sometimes, it’s the small little tweaks that help the most!

There’s been a thread recently in the Rev forums lately that dealt with “little” modifications people tend to make to their Revs for all kinds of reason. Better durability, better flight, lighter wind performance. I’ve tried many of them over the years, but, I tend to now simply leave my kites as “factory stock”. At one point I was so determined to shave every single ounce off of my kite in order to be able to in lower winds, and in that process, I’d gone as far as to remove the washers from the bottom tips. Not such a great idea as when the wind then picks up a bit more, the bungee will tend to pop out. Or, I figured the rubber caps at the top of the verticals would save me GREAT amounts of weight and, off they came from every Rev I owned. Also not a great idea either in the long run, I now have a couple of Revs where there is noticeable wear at the point where the verticals touch the leading edge, as the rubber caps help prevent that wear point.

Ah well I say! Always feel free to experiment and try new things, it’s not my intent to be down on that kind of thing, more just to suggest to be wary of what you change and keep both safety and the durability of the kite foremost in your mind, ok? And, keep your eyes open on the forums too, there’s always a wealth of good, solid information and ideas happening within, and sometimes, you may catch a new product announcement. You never know, there may just be a new kite coming from the San Diego base of Revolution sometime this summer…

Senor Monkey