PKA Round 1 - Hoylake - February 2008

Well, on Friday I made my way over to Hoylake by train and car - when Si and I got there at 11 the wind was less than appetising; this resulted in us spending most of the day in the Clubhouse and only maybe an hour or so on the bank in the evening before the sun went down (though some of the more intrepid pilots had been wind fishing most of the afternoon!).

Everyone made our way to the Railway for tea where we met up with a few more pilots arriving for the weekends racing, and generally had a chilled out evening drinking and talking rubbish (as is the custom). It was a good chance to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and even make some new ones.

That night we all went back to the clubhouse car park to sleep (since sleeping in the clubhouse is banned). Since I went over by train and Roger was sleeping in a B&B, I spent the night curled up in the back of his car with my sleeping bag – I had taken my thermal diving undersuit with the intention of using it for buggying but it made for some cosy pyjamas amongst other clothes! The temperature dropped to -6degrees that night and I only got 2 hours sleep!

Saturday morning came and we all kitted up and made our way down onto the Bank to a pleasant 8mph ish wind - I look my 6m PKD Combat out and was buggying quite happily, though the wind wasn't quite enough to pull the little Parastorm buggy's barrow wheels through the softer sand! We were given a practice lap to learn the course and my 6m Puddle Magnet found a huge pile of water just after the first marker – resulting in me walking back to the pits to dry and dry it out before the start of the race! The wind picked up steadily and when the time came for the first race I was well powered on the (now fairly dry) 6m and looking forward to heading out!

There was a large amount of pilots there this weekend (the fleet count was 32) and starts are always hectic - I was unlucky enough to be caught in the fray and was in a very minor collision with another pilot. Someone’s kite caught mine and I luffed out – I hauled on the brakes and put my feet down to stop my rolling buggy causing my kite to cause issues for the other pilots still crossing the line. I heard a profanity from behind me and turned to see another pilot sliding sideways towards me at speed – a fourth pilot closing any chance he had to turn to avoid me off and then a bang as his buggy hit mine! Since my legs were on the floor the buggy moved without me and the full weight of the other race buggy tried to force its way through the back of my lower legs. Once the pilots had all passed I tried to get up and sort my Combat out and realised how much my legs were hurting so got some assistance from the marshals to pack my kite in and sat my first race out!

Feeling a bit fed up I watched as the race continued and the other pilots doing their laps happily. As the race progressed the wind picked up a shade and I decided the next race would see my 4.8 PKD Combat coming out of the bag – a fast kite for its size and my favourite Combat to fly.

As the countdown began for the start of the second race I frantically searched for my pulley to no avail – I figured I must have dropped it when I released at the start of Race 1 but had no time to look for a spare so took the 4.8 out on the strop straight onto my spreader bar.

It was hard work without a pulley, and the soft sand was slowing me down greatly so I finished that race with one lap in and hurriedly searched for my pulley. Eventually I found it tangled in the bridles of the soggy 6m – just in time for the 3rd race.

The other races went without much hassle. At the end of the day we all walked (or got a lift on the John Deere!) back up to the clubhouse, cleaned up ourselves and the buggies, had chance to rest and chat for a bit (and post on Facebook) just before the power cut out – signalling it was time we went to the pub again for tea!

After an early and much more comfortable night in the Trainor’s “Campermobile” (the forecast was for -10degrees) and waking up to frosty buggies we set out to the beach for our 10.30am Pilots Briefing with little optimism for the days wind – the turbines at Burbo Bank were not moving; even at the start of Saturday they were turning steadily.

We spent the morning fixing, repacking, swapping lines, pumping tyres and generally doing niggly bits of maintenance to kit and static flying the biggest kites we had (most people were on between 12 and 14m worth of PKD Combat, U-Turn Butane and Ozone Yakuza) or the smallest – I was lucky enough to try some new PKD prototypes lazily in the sunshine before at 1pm it was decided it just wasn’t going to get better so we headed back in.

After packing and tidying and cleaning we had the prize giving - positions given below – and headed home!

 All in all I had a fantastic weekend and I'm looking forward to all the other events I have planned.