In putting together a recent post about the kite festival in San Ramon I was taken back to my kite flying exploits when I lived in Lancashire. I had always been a kite fan as a kid and had a Peter Powell stunt kite at some point. In the early 90s, the designs of kites really got inventive. I bought my first flexifoil kite when I lived in Lytham and had a lot of fun flying it on the green by the sea. A few of my friends also got into the flying and they bought the same kite. The design meant it was easy to stack them on the same lines which meant you could have quite a lot of pull if the wind was good.
We weren’t the only ones flying though. Some other people were flying on the sands at St Annes so we headed down there one time to join in making quite a stack. My flexi was 6’ in span. We had about ten of them on the line with two 8’ span kites and one 10’ on top. The wind was not strong but this was quite a combination.
We all had a go at flying this. I found that I could turn it one way a lot better than the other as a result of lacking arm strength on one side. We all got dragged along by the combination. Retreating along the beach needed a couple of guys to drag you back. My mate, Rich, got caught by a big gust and went rolling down the beach. We realized later that his watch had been ripped off and we never found it. I guess kite flying is more dangerous than we realized!
San Ramon holds an annual kite festival which we checked out last year. This time we went back and, rather than get too distracted by the other stuff that was there, we focused on the kite flying itself. There is a large field on which a series of demonstrations of different types and numbers of kites was undertaken. The quality of flying was very impressive. (I will caveat that by pointing out that a bunch of kids were flying their own kites around the field edges. They had obviously just had a kite bought for the, but the parents didn’t seem terribly bothered what they were doing with them so you could get a swift kite to the head if you weren’t careful – and I obviously wasn’t!).
If I ignore the health hazards, the demonstrators were putting on some excellent displays. The individual flights were good but the coordinated flights were outstanding. Two, four and sometimes six kites were flown in formations which was very cool. The lines can overlap so they can continue to control the kites even when they have overlapped the lines several times. Of course, untangling them again is required to avoid a lot of pain when they land.
The different kite styles also bring different capabilities. Twin line kites can be steered left and right while the four line kites allow steering or rotation in place, moving up or going backwards. In the right hands, they are very maneuverable. I have tried a quad line many years ago and they are twitchy but incredibly clever provided you don’t keep crashing them.
I also put together a little video of the flying below. It turns out shooting video of kites is a bit harder than I expected. They can move quite quickly and are pretty close to you. Also, it is hard to predict their next move so tracking is a touch harder than you would hope. Still, video gives a far better impression of them than stills can achieve. Now I am thinking about trying to find some old photos of kite flying in Lytham. Where are they?
Being on the north side of the island of Maui, we were also able to see a bit of the watersport activity that people can get up to. The north shore is famous for surfing of course with Jaws being the most well known of the surfing locations. That is a little inaccessible and the surf is not huge at the time of year we were there. However, there are plenty of other ways to have fun.
With the steady, strong breeze, this is a great spot for windsurfing or kiteboarding. As we wandered along the shore near our lunch location, we could see plenty of people out having some fun. They were making great progress as a result of the strong winds and were great to watch. It is always fun to see someone who is good at something doing it well. I grabbed a few shots before we went on our (far more leisurely) way.