Recently in Kiting Category

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.

Back into the Swing of Things.

After New Year's we drove Ceri back over to Derby, picked up my kite kit (and put it into my nice shiney new black and blue PKD drybag, it's so good that I colour - co-ordinate) and headed back on over to Bangor.

My return saw two new major purchases - I finally paid for the 7.5m Combat so now I own most of a set - the majority of the set I will ever use, and I bought a drysuit from eBay - a 2 year old crewsaver drysuit, it's hardly had any use out of it and was a bargain at a mere £58 + postage.

Revision and kiting pretty much filled up the majority of January - we went to Black Rock Sands for a session, the wind being inexistent to start with but picking up around lunch time to a fairly steady 12mph.

Kev caught a cold off Sam just after New Years, now wandering about with barely a limp, so his scheduled op to remove his loose screws (yes I found his loose screws funny too) was cancelled so he stayed south for longer, meaning when my exams were finally over I returned north with him to compete in the SPKA races on the 27th and had the chance to try out my new suit.

I'm now back and into Semester 2 with some of the most boring modules you could ever imagine - Soils and Contamination (soily pollution), Ecosystems and the Environment (soil and air pollution) and Earth and Ocean Observation (which consists of pretty much just marine acoustics and their acompanying formulae).

I am scheduled for going on the RV Prince Madog on Friday and Monday this week and next - weather permitting that is; so far the forecast is for gales on Friday.

Saturday will hopefully see some very chilly WSYC racing - I will be mostly taking my dive thermals for underneath that shiny suit of mine!

Returning to Bangor also made me say goodbye once again to the unforgetable Owyn - the very fat and growing rapidly goldfish residing in mum's tank. I really wish I could keep pet's here!

Back in Bangor.

Well, I'm back, have moved into our 7-bedroom Victorian end-terraced house, begun to decorate, nearly finished setting up the club with the others and bought a t.v. I haven't really stopped!

 I got out the other day on my 4.8 Combat, I had a well deserved thrashing (face it, I was due one) but I didn't have the nerve to snap my ankle and have it pinned - I know if that had have happened I would never have heard the end of it (for having footstraps on my buggy, obviously). Haven't been out since and am beginning to get twitchy.

 Dive wise I haven't been in the water since Stoney, though to be honest the weather hasn't been fit for it here and the dive club haven't been very active.

I began to decorate my room the first weekend I was here - pale blue, white and "chocolate truffle" - but unfortunately some evil stomach bug (believed to have been caused by some dodgy ham) took my body on the Monday and I never got it finished. And now, I can't be bothered or the wind is too good.

The most exciting news I have is I bought a t.v. I did have an adapter for my laptop, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to want to receive terrestrial channels and only picks up about two decent digital channels and every shopping channel under the sun. So yesterday, when I saw a 14" t.v. advertised for sale on the discussion boards, I did buy it. I promptly spent the rest of the day watching rubbish.

 Soon it all starts to move quickly again - I'm busy every single week in November for some reason or another and my October weekends are quickly being booked - a good timetable (with lots of weeks off, for one reason or another) and an early finish for Christmas mean I'll be off for 5 weeks over the festive season and that's all pretty much booked up too! It's a busy life being a student...

European Championships

We now have a new European Champion Buggy Racer for 2007 until next year, when another Euros will happen in the Netherlands (we think).

 The start of the week went well and the Scottish Team travelled for 9 hours overnight to arrive at Pembrey Country Park early on Saturday morning. The forecast was for sunshine and no wind, all week, apart from Monday which had showers and 10-15mph forecast.

 With racing not due to start until Monday, all of the pilots made their way to be scrutineered and take two days of free practice to get weight, balance and wheel type right for performing their optimum in a race.

Monday came and there were 3 races held, the 3rd cancelled to airlift our very own Kev off the beach with a broken femur after a collision with another buggy.

With 2 races finished, a 3rd was needed minimum to verify a champion and when there was no wind the following three days pilots began to get fidgety that it would all have been a waste of time, money and effort to get there and have a chance at winning.

Friday came and thankfully so did the wind - there was only set to be one race on the Friday because of tide times, but because the rest of the week was so bad there were 3 races held.

Friday night came the closing ceremony and prize giving at a hotel in Llanelli and good fun was had by all - even the three injured Team Captains were awarded something and there was an auction. Partying continued into the night and everyone returned back to their place of origin on Saturday morning, tired but happy.

Fashion Police.

It occurred to me earlier that I am sad. What, I hear you cry? Leah, Queen of Fashion and all things good looking?

 Well a few weeks ago, when Frances was wandering about in her pink drysuit and pink BCD with pink cylinder cover etc, I realised that most of my dive kit is black or blue. But so is my kite kit (bar my kites, obviously, apart from my 4.8 which is black and mmm, but the Cent has a blue soulfly on it I guess).

And so, my mission to spend money on equipment that is mostly blue or black begins. May my days of red and black helmet, black jacket, red rucksack, camoflage trousers, blue gaitors and purple striped wellingtons be gone! Long live the era of sexy oversized black drysuits, pond weed filled hair or a sand covered face. As long as I coordinate.


Well in the couple of months I've been working at the Wheel I've already earned plenty of tips.

Jackie said when I started working there that if a tip is left on the table, it goes in the bowl to share between everyone (restaurant and kitchen staff), but if someone actually specifies that the tip is for you (or in the case of the other week, you and your associate in the restaurant) it's your discretion if you put it in the bowl or not.

Needless to say, the other week I put just short of £200 worth of tips (some notes, mostly pound coins and 50pence pieces) into the bank and treated myself to a nice new toy. A 4.8m PKD Combat (Proto) belonging to Si Bailey. Kev's got it just now but it isn't long until I can play with it myself!

A couple of weeks later and the tips are racking up again already but I've got to save these for something more constructive!

My 24 Hour

I don't think for one minute that getting up at 4.30, getting in the car at 5.30 and driving for 2 hours is anybpdy's idea of "fun" but this was the only boring bit I had to endure of the Bridging Finance 24 hour Endurance Race at Hoylake.When we were ten minutes or so away, I got a text from Kev saying the wind was 17-20mph onshore and it wasn't raining - hurrah! We got there and set up and registered before heading down onto the bank to find somewhere for our pits. After a pilots briefing, we buggied about a bit before the start of the race which was a Le Mans start – Andy was the first racer on our team using his 10m Venom 2 and there are some fantastic start videos of everyone running to their kites. A couple of teams tangled badly but all in all the race started quickly with few problems.I went out in the buggy more to have a shot while the wind was good – I’d never buggied Hoylake before and I was really looking forward to it so I couldn’t wait to get out. When Andy returned I went out to clock up miles for real on our yellow 4m Buster but not knowing the kite very well I soon went back for
Old Faithful in the form of my 3m Firebee.
This turned out to be a good move and I was soon blatting up and down the beach comfortably – I maxed out at about 68kmh, I don’t think this is quite beating my previous record (I think I’d need in excess of 75kph to do that) but it felt good keeping speed with racers on Yakuza’s and Combats. I also didn’t want to welly it because the thought of getting stuck down wind 3 miles down the beach didn’t really appeal to me and it would also have meant possibly cutting up other racers (who, I should imagine, would be less than happy that I was beating my current record).Dad went out next and clocked us up some more – unfortunately one of the GPS stopped recording and this meant we lost 30km and two hours worth of effort. 

The day carried on and pilots changed, the wind varied slightly in its speed but was more or less constant until it picked up at about 10pm. 

The night shifts began, the glow sticks came out and the mood became a bit quieter and a bit eerie – many pilots were put off by the thought of buggying in the dark but a few teams still had a pilot willing to disappear into the void. 

Pilots went out with lights affixed to their buggies and some with kite lights – white lights on the front of buggies and red on the rear – with large lights as markers for the course. Unfortunately as the wind died and shifted the course became more difficult for pilots with kites with a poor upwind performance and would mean a trek right down the bank to be able to make certain markers and so several pilots found a space and went back to going back and forth to earn their kilometers. 

This regime continued until about 3am when wind disappeared completely and the rain took its place – I think everyone decided to get some sleep in at this point myself included as I went to sleep on two Centuries, a Little Devil and a Buster. 

At 4.30am I decided I’d had enough when the tent I was in began to leak and so went to look for someone else I knew who was awake – it was light enough by now to be out again but it was still pouring with rain and there was still no wind. A few of us ended up making a trek up to the Clubhouse and going to sleep in the dry and comparative warmth and comfort there. 

Kev went back out at 7.30am after hearing the wind had picked up but the rest of us stayed asleep until 8.30am before returning to the bank. 

All the teams tried to clock up some more km in the early morning, variable and temperamental wind – at least it wasn’t raining much any more. 

10.30am came along and the finish came around – Team Ozone taking the title of World Record Holders with over 600km and the Youthful Yokels coming second not all that far behind. 

Everyone returned to the Clubhouse and cleaned up and packed away before going in for the Prize Giving. All 17 teams received something for their efforts as well as being able to be proud – this was my first medal for anything ever and it made me feel so proud of myself and my team. 

Next year the event will hopefully run again and be bigger and better than this year – I hope so because I really want to do it again.

Spending Money

Well, I really shouldn't have, but I've bought myself an 11m Best Yarga to get me back using de-power again, I don't know how I ever thought I'd be able to survive just using fixed power.

Check it out on 'the bay': Here

Its a hard decision to make…

| 1 Comment

Well lately I've been thinking I need a new kite...  a de-powerable... flying Allys 12m at Llandona a few weekends ago was really sweet, and its so good to get such float and control and not having any worries about going for board offs etc. so I'm tempted to get a 11-12m LEI of some sort (reasonably high AR).

But then again, Allys board is nice too, customkiteboard... the lightest in the uk pretty much... and the handle and balance of it is lush for board offs, unlike his last one which was too narrow at the footpads and started to split apart (harhar). So a new board is tempting too, something similar (obviously not the same, I don't want to marry the bloke y'know!) to Allys.

But then again (getting the idea yet?) I also want to get myself my own race kites, be it slowly building a set of centurys or even better, some combats and just selling my car and limbs to buy a set outright.

This leads me onto the car, its doing well, considering its done some seriously long journeys recently (9 and a half hours to wallop anyone?), its developing more niggles slowly, specifically a strange rattling noise/knocking noise, which seems to have gone again for now, so maybe its fallen off... But on washing it the other day theres very miniscule bits of rust around the inside of the wheel arches, which can't be good, I have a strange premonition it'll not be cheap to keep on the road at MOT time in December - if it lasts that long.

So, given all that, any donations to the 'make kev wealthy' fund?

Not long now!

Well its not long now to the 24hour at Hoylake, (Click here for more info) am quite looking forward to it, meeting up with others I've not seen for a while, and basically racing again. Not to mention egging Leah on to do well too as its her first proper buggy event kinda thing!