(Disclosure: this post relates to my work with Knowledge West, it also doesn’t have that much to do with technology, start-ups etc)
One of the great aspects of my life is working with very cool companies that are doing very cool things and making very cool products. Unfortunately most of my work is around developing their business or helping with innovation so not easily shared.
Last Friday I got a chance to research some of the cool products that a company we’re working with make (ok it was mostly fun). Flexifoil are one of the top power kite manufacturer in the world for quality and performance. The University of the West of England are going to be working with them to get even better.
This was mostly fun, though the difference between even a 2.5m Blurr kite and the traditional diamond with a tail of string and cloth off-cuts was staggering. The morning on Weston-super-Mare’s uphill beach was almost perfect for learning. As you can see from the photo on the right, we actually had sun! The breeze was a bit light but it gave us the chance to play without getting dragged all over the beach if we messed up.
There was plenty of messing up! These are performance kites and they’d started us on the ‘Traction’ range, which even in those light winds was enough to pull you off balance. Getting the hang of the four control lines (2 power and 2 brake) and figuring out where the ‘sweet spot’ was while not getting blinded by the sun was a real challenge that everyone pretty much got the hang of by lunch time.
Around lunch time it began to cloud over and the wind picked up. I tried out a different kite, a 4m Blade IV. Slightly bigger, more powerful and a bit trickier to handle. The dark line behind me are the gouge marks where I was literally being lifted off the sand and unceremoniously dragged along until I could de-power. The kite is just off camera almost vertically above me.
After lunch we broke out the 3-wheeled buggys and had to learn all about tacking & gybing (which is fine for me) with a ‘sail’ that moves around your body like a windsurf sail (ok, still mostly fine) and moves vertically from brushing the sand to overhead (that bit was harder to get a handle on). Fortunately for me, Sy had shown up and gave me a crash course which got me hurtling up and down the beach in no time. Mostly under control. 🙂
Whilst we were getting the hang of it Flexifoil’s tame pro-boarder pitched up and began playing. The guy was officially bonkers. He’s actually flying one of the big surf kites, an Aaron Hadlow Pro (at least 7m across). After another couple hours of kite flying it started raining, so he switched into his wetsuit and started tearing up the seafront.
A fantastic day with some amazing kit,thanks go to Stephen Batty and the team at RBI for organising. Now if I can just find a spare £1,000 for the gear, some spare weekends, maybe a van…