IN WHICH I GET INTO A COMPROMISING SITUATION WITH SOME YOUNG LADIES, AND SOME OTHER THINGS HAPPEN.
The 33rd Weifang International Kite Festival was physically the most difficult event I've ever done- of more than 500 so far since 1978 (inaugural AKA event at Ocean City Maryland).
This year the venue for Weifang shifted to Binhai, a beach on reclaimed land about an hour and a half north of the City. It's an excellent place for kite flying, with a local kitesurfing community, generally reliable winds, and lots of space. The organisers provided plenty of anchoring too, which was a pleasant surprise.
However, the weather was up to its usual Weifang tricks (remembering back to snow in 2014) and the first day was cold with strong wind and driving rain.
Arriving at the field just before 9am, by 9.30 I was soaked to the skin and in the early stages of hypothermia. By 10am, with plenty of enthusiastic, but unskilled-to-the-point-of-dangerous, local help, I had a Pilot/Ray/Trilobite train, a 50m single skin Serpent and a 20m single skin Octopus up and flying. By 11am when one of the other NZ team "delegation" showed up on the field (which was Gavin from PL Kites Ltd- Joe Steffort from Nelson had missed the bus and didn't arrive until about 3), I was pretty far gone, shaking uncontrollably, and any physical activity caused the world to go dark around the edges. By then, the only way to not flake out completely was to hunker down and not move for a while.
As it happened, I had to go back to Weifang City anyway -for an International Kite Federation meeting, which, in the inscrutable Chinese way, had been scheduled during the kite flying rather than in the evening or on a spare day. A hot bath and dry clothes was looking to be a pretty desirable option by then.
Unfortunately, the bus that was to take the IKF members back became lost getting to the field and I didn't actually get back to my hotel until 2.30.
By which time the organisers had started to panic a little (having visiting kiteflyers die on them not being considered good form), and a deputation comprising 2 young lady interpreters, a lady doctor and a senior male functionary (to keep an eye on us all, I expect), arrived in my bathroom and proceeded to interrogate me at length about my state of health. Fortunately, there are no photos of this.
Getting an IPad to translate "hypothermia" took some time and getting it wet didn't help, but eventually they accepted that I wasn't having a stroke or a heart attack, at which point, warmed up but still a bit shaky, I dressed and went to the meeting.
While I was away from the field, the 50m Serpent ripped into 3 pieces after catching on a sign and the Octopus, unnoticed, had all its tentacle ends ripped off and 41 bridles out of 56 cut.
And that was really just the beginning of kite damage for me at this event.
On the second day (strongish wind but no rain), a GIANT Dinosaur broke free from upwind, brushed past me, had a sniff at the Ray/Trilobite/Whale train, picked up 2 of our spare pilots and a kite buggy and rapidly disappeared out to sea. Fortunately as the Dinosaur began to inflate, I'd said to Joe that it was going to break, (insufficient hoop strength for the wind) and he videod the entire saga. In the event, although the fabric did tear, the bridles let go before too much damage was done.
Unfortunately, this video appears to show a man in a red hat retrieving one of our pilots (a red one) from the Dinosaur's bridles just before it reached the sea, and departing stage left with same, never to be seen again.
The buggy was retrieved when the Dinosaur was hauled aboard a boat somewhere out over the horizon, but the other pilot (yellow) was lost.
And then, even while I was watching intently for this, 12 out of 22 Ray bridles were cut by a Kevlar line, and on the final day, again while I was away (officiating at the closing ceremony this time) the 20m Octopus had a majority of its primary bridles cut for the second time.
Oh, and on the first day a pilot line was stolen as we were launching the train, and on the second day, 70m of 1500kg Dyneema was taken from an anchor and a new blue 3sq.m 1Skin disappeared from our on-the-field base.
All in all, a somewhat fraught event.
Apart from ongoing lower back twinges, this is around half the total sickness and injury problems I've had during kite travelling since 1976.
There's a message for me in this I suppose, but I'm not listening.
On the contrary, I'm planning to do more of this for a while now, not less.
To which end, I'm announcing the formation of the Weifang-Kaixuan-Peter Lynn Kite Team, which will be offering professional kite flying services to event organisers. Based in Weifang, it will focus on China and Asia for now with a core team of; Craig and Simon (Peter Lynn Kites Ltd NZ), myself, and Tan Xinbo (Kaixuan, Weifang). We'll co-opt other fliers who share our flying style when required - and when they're willing and available.
And that style is: Up first, down last and never give up. When there's any wind at all, NOT flying in not an option.
We'll fly show kites of course but also intend to have kite trains- because they fly so well in very light winds. We'll also bring in Revolution and sports kite fliers when appropriate, traditional kites (Dragons), kite boarding, kite buggying and snow kiting, LED kites for night flying and perhaps kite making workshops for children.
PETER LYNN, HANGCHEN, MAY 1 '16
Single skin update:
The 50m Serpent (strictly speaking a hybrid design because it has a ram air inflated leading edge collar) is now an excellent kite. It handled the strong winds and rain at Weifang with aplomb up to at least 60km/hr and its annoying "falling off' problem when the wind drops has been largely cured by providing more forward bridle settings for light wind flying.
The 20m Octopus is a pure single skin kite and its flying is getting close to being spectacularly good: very high flying angle, steady as a rock, and enough pull to lift the most earthbound inflatable maxi when used as a pilot.
In a light wind setting (there are 4 bridle positions) it will fly in less than 10km/hr now without falling off to either side. On the strong wind setting I have not yet discovered an upper limit- but it's definitely above 60km/hr.
Its remaining problem- and it's a very annoying one- is that there is a defined range for each bridle position, and if the wind increases or decreases while it's flying this HAS to be changed. The 4th setting gives perhaps 20km/hr to above 60km/hr. The 3rd position is for 15 to 30, the 2nd , 12 to 18 and the 1st position maybe 9 to 13. Can this adjustment be made automatic with elastic elements?
Theoretically not- because the necessary response to the leading edge bridles going loose (as the kite luffs) is to pull in hard on the rear bridles- and this requires sensing and a source of energy.
Practically though? Maybe some get-around will be possible that deals to this.