Warning; bits of the following may be regarded as offensive by some people.
Travelling and kites are a good fit:
Very many countries have kite festivals and most countries have a tourist industry- to generate jobs and bring in money.
Putting the two together, kite events are often organised or at least supported by a country's tourism ministry; as a spectacle that will generate international publicity and provide invited kite fliers with a special experience that they can enthuse about when they get back home.
What's called a win-win- in theory.
In practice, a some pernicious side effects have developed.
The first of these, widely bemoaned by the international kite community, is that tourism authorities have become focussed on the number of countries attending as a metric for the success of their events. Bigger and better is not so much judged by the spectacle, or by how many locals come to enjoy the show, or directly by how much overseas exposure the event generates, but by how many countries send "delegates", and every year there have to be more.
One effect of this is that most kite fliers in larger countries (China, USA, Germany, UK, France, etc) will not be able to score an invitation, because it only takes one person to carry their country's flag at the opening and closing ceremonies.
Another effect is that a few lucky individuals from very small countries will likely get full invitations- even if their only previous involvement with kite flying is having seen a kite flying at some time- or a picture of.
And a weird effect is that new kite fliers who make enquiries of event organisers will often be asked if they have some country other than their country of residence that they may plausibly represent. Or even implausibly when someone is needed to fill in for a country that has cancelled out at the last minute (after they've already been counted and touted in the new grand total).
There are now regulars at international kite events who specialise in being from countries other than their own.
But the worst effect of "counting countries" is that the quality of kite flying at the international events which measure themselves this way, seems to me to be declining. I believe this is because, if an important criteria for getting invited is not how much kite flying you do but whether you can bring a new flag to line up with all the others, then those attending will not generally be the best available kite fliers.
A consequence of this is that keen kite fliers are becoming disillusioned because hard work and doing a good show do not necessarily lead to invitations.
Another is that we are seeing the rise of "kite tourists"- and this is where things get a bit pejorative, so if you are one of these people (which I'm sure you're not), and a bit thin skinned, best to stop reading now.
I've been canvassing views as to the difference between a kite flier and a kite tourist:
Kite tourists go straight to their assigned tents, make themselves at home and are usually to be found there (except when meals are served elsewhere). On the other hand, kite fliers sometimes never find out where their tent is as they spend all their time out on the field, and they don't go to meals until all their kites are up and flying well.
Kite tourists have a huge range of excuses for not flying: Too hot, too cold, too tired, not enough wind, too much wind, no space in the sky, no spare anchors, even that it's raining! Kite fliers regard all the above as reasons for redoubling their efforts.
Kite tourists pack up ready to depart hours before the end, they will have ascertained how to get back to the hotel (and the pool) early, and frequently do so. Kite fliers don't start pulling down until the actual announced closing time- and not even then if there are still significant numbers of spectators wanting to see kites flying.
Kite tourists sit in the bus after they've finished flying (early), and get angry waiting for the kite fliers to get there. When the kite fliers eventually arrive, they apologise for holding everyone up, insincerely.
Kite tourists engage in voluminous correspondence with event organisers; send in dazzling kite photos and CVs, express great love for the host country and engage in long negotiations to maximise the support they receive. Kite fliers correspond minimally, tend to accept or decline invites on the basis of the first offer made and can be quite difficult to get photos and supporting material out of- on account of being too busy flying kites to get good photos.
And I'll add my contribution;
Kite tourists sit in their tent or go back to the hotel when flying conditions are difficult, but if there is a brief window of good useable wind, they'll demand that those who have endured and persisted though the worst, clear the sky so they can now fly their own kites without having to compete for space or spectator attention. Their rationale is that this is "only fair".
Of course, the kite tourist condition is a spectrum disorder:
At the bad end are blatant hospitality abusers who somehow wangle an invitation but make no pretence of flying- and at worst go off shopping or sightseeing (really true).
In the middle are fliers who have lost their passion and are trading on reputation and connections. As they see it, they've 'paid their dues' and are now collecting payment.
And at the 'mainly harmless' end are the great bulk of festival attenders who just need a reminder that kite events aren't a free lunch and that it's their job is to fill the sky with kites.
Am I not being a bit unfair here?
Another way to look at all this is as a willing buyer (the kite event organiser) and willing seller (the kite tourist) relationship, which I should keep my opinions out of.
Quite right too, event organisers are and should be the arbiters of who gets invited and what is required from them.
Except that almost all the organisers of state supported kite events that I know are privately distressed by what they see as the failure by many of their invitees to fulfil their side of the bargain. Not wishing to make enemies or to be less than perfect hosts prevents their saying so publicly.
Nor do event organisers like being judged by how many countries attend, knowing full well that this will result in less than the best kite flying, but very often their tourism authority sponsors base their support on this measure.
I'll see all you kite fliers at the next event then!
PETER LYNN, ASHBURTON, NEW ZEALAND, 1 AUGUST '16
Single skin update;
The blue 20m single skin Octopus continues to be the best single line kite I've ever designed or flown- though I still haven't confirmed that this is replicatable (but can't see why it won't be). The 30m Serpent version is also coming along well now, and will eventually be even better I think- because its single tail is less inclined to snag things than the linked Octopus tentacles do.
1Skin 66 and especially 67(black), do seem less susceptible to superstability (the tendency to lean to one side or the other in stronger winds) than earlier versions. 67 has a turbulator to prevent airflow fully attaching to the top surface in very strong winds (see photo and 3 below).
The superstability problem may very well be inherent in the upward pointing moment of the 1Skin's weight acting below its centre of lift being insufficient to overcome aerodynamic forces in stronger winds. This theory is supported by the single skin Octopus's not being subject to superstability, presumably because their centre of gravity is proportionally further rearward relative to their centre of lift. If this is true, finding a complete solution for the 1Skins will be difficult. Undoubtedly though, there are changes that can be made that will push the onset of superstability further up the range.