Go to newsletter September 2009 Go to newsletter September 2009

Girls Can't Fly Kites.

Photo 1: Larks Head (plus Bowline and Keeper)
Photo 1: Larks head and keeper knot on a bowline.
Photo 2: Bowline.
  Photo 3: Sheet bend to bowline .
Photo 3: Sheet bend to bowline.
  sheet bend to line
Photo 4: Sheet bend to line with keeper knot.

We'll they can't, not biggish ones anyway.
And it's all men's fault- and I expect that about half of you knew this already.
But apart from this being a foundation principle of human society, why exactly is it men's fault?
Specifically, as for all activities that they're less able at, by generally being smaller and weaker, women can't fly big kites like men can because they don't get enough sex, - except , it's more a consequence than a cause.

Now do I have your attention?

If bonobos (pigmy chimpanzees) flew kites, their females would not be less enabled than males- because there's almost no sexual dimorphism amongst bonobos- they're the same size and strength. On the other hand, female gorillas could only be exponents of Sotich size miniatures by comparison to silverbacks (males) that are three or four times their mass. The reason for this difference is that gorilla males are harem keepers but bonobos make Haight Ashbury like unto a nunnery- they're at it all the time and in every possible combination. Gorilla males are bulked up so they can chase off rival males- and maintain exclusive access to their harem. Being males, you can bet that they don't then expend any more energy than absolutely necessary pleasuring their ladies.

But B bonobo males compete by the size of their testes, and by being great lovers- hoping to get a shot home now and then by frequency and shear volume- rather than dominating by size and aggression. Our species is sort of middling. Human males have had a bob each way; some harem keeping when opportunity arises (Chingis Khan has some 14m descendants now) a bit of monogamy when it suits, but big enough testes to see off occasional competition. So, sorry ladies, you've been condemned by evolutionary development to flying midi's.
But it doesn't have to be like this forever.
The present stroppy lady culture would, for sure, provide sufficient selection pressure to cut males back down to size if sustained for long enough (1000 generations?).

And there's something else that would help a LOT quicker than this.

Learn to tie knots!
Double sheet bend
Photo 5: Double sheet bend.
  Double sheet bend with doubled end for untying.
Photo 6: Double sheet bend with doubled end for untying.
  Double sheet bend with doubled end and safety half hitch
Photo 7: Double sheet bend with doubled end and 'safety' half hitch.

There's a train of maxi's up and something goes wrong requiring that the main line gets de-tensioned for long enough to re-do some knot. This is a very common situation- happens a few times every flying day. In stronger winds, it's almost impossible to do solo; requires two people. So, I can take the tension, and I can undo and re-tie whatever has to be done, but I can't do both at the same time. If the other person is female, they won't be able to hold the line tension ('cos they haven't had enough sex), AND they usually won't know how to tie knots.

This bit we can fix right now:

Just four knots cover almost all situations; larks head, bow line, keeper, and sheet bend (with variants).

(The second most annoying person you ever meet on the kite field are those with some special complicated knot they MUST show you.)

The definition of a useful knot is one that develops as much of the line strength as possible, can be tied one handed (while the other holds the line tension) and doesn't come undone UNTIL YOU WANT IT TO!. This last is the key bit, knots must be easy to untie, even after line breaking tension.

THE most annoying person on the kite field ties some stupid knot while you're not watching, usually a double overhand, than buggers off when it's time to undo it. The only supporters they have in this world are dentists (Leathermans destroy line but teeth are excellent for extreme de-knotting ).

Larks heads are easy to tie, always easy to untie but only develop about half line strength. Photo 1: Larks head and keeper knot on a bowline.

Overhand loop- BAD.
Photo 8: Overhand loop- BAD.
Photo 9: Tethering .
  Hitch and larks head to attach extra kites to a line
Photo 10: Hitch and larks head to attach extra kites to a line.

Bowlines do a bit better- but are harder to tie , and require a bit of technique to undo (always possible though) - push the loop back up over the out-line to loosen the remainder. Photo 2: Bowline

Sheet bends are easy to tie, are always undo-able, AND, in the double sheet bend form develop more line strength than larks heads or bowlines. Photo 3: Sheet bend to Bowline. Photo 4: Sheet bend to line with keeper knot. Photo 5: Double sheet bend. Photo 6: Double sheet bend with doubled end for untying.

Some situations, especially with Spectra/Dyneema which is especially slippery, require a 'keeper' knot to prevent lines gradually working thru (Photo 1 and others).

A knot you should NEVER use (except sometimes) is a double overhand - easy to do, but impossible to undo, Photo 8: Double overhand.

In the last 5 years I've twice had a double sheet bend with doubled end (for quicker releasing, Photo 6) pull thru and let kites loose. A total solution for this is to add a half hitch after the sheet bend, (Photo 7: Double sheet bend with doubled end and half hitch). but often when launching in the morning, wind is barely sufficient for flying , so gale secure knots are a long way from your thoughts.

And there are just two more knot things to cover:

When tying off to a pole or similar; do a double loop around so that it won't slip up the pole as the kite apexes- and tether closest to the ground where the anchor's strongest. Photo 9: Tethering

And, for tying off a kite or windsock to a kite line, a half hitch loop then a larks head (or use the loop to make a sheet bend of any variant ) does the job- holds without slipping and can always be untied later (Photo 10).

That's it ladies, all you need you know to be half expert at this- but don't give up on being stroppy just yet either, good things take time.

Peter Lynn, Ashburton, July 29 '09

Peter Lynn Kites Ltd
105 Alford Forest Rd
Ashburton 8300
Ph: +64 (0) 3 308 4538
Fax: + 64 (0)3 308 1905
Email: peter@peterlynnhimself.com
Website :www.peterlynnhimself.com

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