Pings and cracks

Posted by @ 3:43 pm on Tuesday 27th May, 2008.
Categories: Kites, Weather

As usual, the good old British weather kicked up a storm for the WHB*, with winds of 20-40 mph tearing boughs from trees and flattening whatever we were hoping to grow in the garden. Of course, it also banjaxxed our hopes of a pleasant seasonal day out the kids, but eventually we couldn't stand being cooped-up indoors any longer, so we grabbed coats and kites and headed off to Bosworth Park.

We set up Anna's 1.2m foil first, let it go and it was overhead no time, pulling hard but still manageable.

Next we started to set up Ella's 1.6m, but part-way through a good gust caught Anna's kite, it was too much for one of her lines which promptly pinged and snapped. We decided to put Ella's stronger lines on Anna's kite and arranged for them to take turns with it, on the basis that Ella's kite would be too much for Anna to hold down.

All seemed to be going well with them, so I unpacked the Ozone Imp and had a think about which lines to use with it...

On breezy days I usually fly it on a pair of 30m 70kg Climax Protecs, these lines have virtually no stretch and are really thin and slick, meaning that there's a lot of control and it's easy to wrap/unwrap twists made during spins. The longer length also means that it's easy to find more wind at the edge of the flying window. On windier days I tend to stick with the 18m 100kg braided Edelrid SK75 Dyneema lines that came with the kite - they're thicker and heavier, meaning that there's more wind-drag on them, cutting down the responsiveness and feel, but the shorter lines allow a more direct contact with the foil, there being less slack than an equivalent long line.

Decisions, decisions...

In the end, I set up with the Protecs. Chris had the controls while I held up the kite and launched it. It went up like a rocket, but Chris couldn't control it and it was soon back on the ground. Chris didn't want to fly it any more, so I took the leashes while she put the foil into the air. Yet again it went straight up without complaint, so I started to hunt around to find where the good and bad air was. Right at the top of the window I ran into some slack air and the kite-cells emptied, resulting in a fold-up and a relatively gentle fall back to earth. I gave one of the lines a gentle tug to free a minor wrap-around and the thing was back in the air immediately, pulling like a good 'un. Then...


The left line snapped a few feet below the kite which started to spin out of control 50ft up. The one remaining line now had to contend with the full force of the wind combined with the force of me recoiling from the breakage...

"Is it still attached?" asked Chris.

I looked up at kite. I looked across at the line.


It was hanging on bravely, but it was all too much... there was a slackening in the line...

"Err... NO!"

And it was off, over the field, no longer fighting the wind but being whisked away by it. It went up and over a huge oak tree, showing no signs of coming down beyond it. I was transfixed, in utter disbelief.

And all of a sudden Chris was off too, charging over the field in hot pursuit! I was doubly-transfixed, and in utterly utter disbelief! I've never seen her move so far so fast - she must have covered 250, perhaps 300 yards in well less that a minute, which is impressive for an asthmatic wearing walking-boots and a full complement of Paramo "waterproofs"!

She caught up with it when it snagged in some bushes at edge of the housing estate, bundled it up and strolled back in triumph, muttering things like "have you any idea how much I paid for this?" and "I can't believe that you just stood there and didn't chase it yourself."

Ella and Chris went for a walk around the park while I packed up and retired to the car, disgraced, to untangle the mess and salvage whatever good line was left. Anna came with me, she'd had enough fun for one day.

Next time I'll use the 100kg lines, or the replacements that I'm considering.

*WHB: the result of a brilliant "triumph of mouth over brain" by a Radio Cumbria presenter back in the 80s. I was checking out the weather forecast on the car radio while site-camping at Castlerigg Hall near Keswick when I heard "... and here is the weather forecast for the wank-holiday beak-end...". I laughed so much that I ached for days. I do hope the lass didn't lose her job because of it, but I never did hear her on the radio ever again.

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2 Responses to “Pings and cracks”

  1. john hee says:

    1st lesson of kiting. Match the equipment to the wind, or face the consequences. On the plus side, the stronger lines might have seen you flying over the hedges as well!

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