It was well advertised
It was well advertised
WindJam07 was held on the Glenelg beach-front in Adelaide, South Australia on Saturday the 18th August 2007. Publicity for this event had been around for weeks, since it was part of the Scouts Australia Centenary celebrations.
Not that we have anything to do with the Scouts movement, but hey, this is a kite site! So if kites are in your blood, read on...
We had spotted a small article about WindJam07 in the local newspaper,
and then registered online a few days later. Not a bad deal actually.
For $10 you got to collect an attractive, simple to rig kite on the day.
Plus the opportunity to be part of a kiting world record attempt.
On the day, we took the camera + some spare batteries and headed off
down to Glenelg. A bit closer to home than the Adelaide International
Kite Festival this time.
Shortly after leaving our car, it was clear that something was
happening in the area as 3 skydivers descended gracefully onto the sand.
Not that we saw the landings, there were some large buildings in the
way. One skydiver was towing a very large banner bearing the Scouts
Higher up, a lone light aircraft droned loudly, circling over the foreshore.
Some large kites were floating at 100-200 feet altitude.
first one we noticed was an orange ram-air sled, just moving slightly in
the very smooth air coming off the ocean. It might have even been
taking some advantage from the nearby tall building, as the sea breeze
flowed up and around it.
Milling Around, Getting Ready
After one or two false starts, we managed to find the right entrance
for collecting the Wind Jam bag containing the kite and a few other bits
and pieces. You know, people trying to sell you stuff...
Heading down the beach-front a little, it was clear that a lot
of organization had gone into WindJam07. Officials with orange caps
were everywhere, and the sandy shore was cordoned off into a number of
large rectangles. Each rectangle had its own color, as indicated by
large flags in the corners. These flags were actually flapping around a
bit in the breeze. A good sign!
Earlier in the day, it seemed like the breeze on the ground was
going to be extremely light, with barely any movement in the treetops a
bit further inland. However, just a couple of thousand feet up, large
amounts of cumulus cloud was scudding past at a reasonable rate.
Close to the allotted time for the record attempt, people were
allowed onto the sand to collect a spreader strut for their kite. At the
same time, you handed over a small card collected during the
registration process. Collecting these cards would tell the WindJam07
organizers exactly how many kites were let into the official flying
Glenelg Beach, Carpeted In Kites!
Not much room, down on the beach!
Soon, the beach presented quite a unique picture. A picture not
unlike the one above. :-) Many hundreds of identical kites fluttered and
dipped on very short strings, above the sand. The sea at low tide was
back behind there somewhere. Not much sand could be seen actually, it
was just people and kites blotting it out! Each person only had a few
square meters to fly in. From experience, it was sometimes tricky
staying out of the way of other kites, despite the strings being only a
few meters long. If the strings had been any longer, there would have
been absolute mayhem, with tangled lines everywhere! The organizers
obviously knew this. Maybe from previous Wind Jam experience!
The wind was quite marginal, with many kites failing to stay up
during lulls. All except for some lucky person who was flying on a long
string. Can you spot it in the photo? Did they sneakily bring their own,
or did they bribe the WindJam07 officials to get one of the long cotton
lines that were supposed to be handed out afterwards? ;-)
Here's another view of the beach, showing some more detail of the kites on their short strings.
You could call it a Delta-fest
The WindJam07 Kite
It's time I tell you a little about the kite itself. There's a close-up
of it in the photo, being flown by yours truly. The crazy angle is my
wife's artistic license in action! :-)
...and this was ours
...and this was ours
As you can see, it's a small-to-average sized delta with a keel. The
keel doubles as a bridle, since the flying line is attached to a small
reinforced hole where the keel comes to a point. The sail material is
probably rip-stop nylon, with panels of different colors.
The tails are mainly for effect, since the keeled design is quite
stable. I'm guessing that really, based on the fact that there isn't a
whole lot of tail area there! In any case, the longer center tail would
help when the kite is flown in much stronger wind. The 2 little tails, 1
on each side are definitely just there for effect! Kites are supposed
to have fluttery tails to make them look nice, right? :-)
Setup of the WindJam07 kite was extremely easy, since it just
involved plugging a single flexible cross stick into 2 little nylon
cups, one on each side spar of the kite. This spread the side spars
apart, putting some tension into the sail as well. Then, it was just a
matter of threading the short flying line through the hole in the keel
and tying a knot.
Launching the kite should have been dead-easy, but try doing it
when there is barely enough wind, and 100 or more kites upwind are all
putting little eddies into the breeze! Tugging the string to bob the
kite up into some smoother air usually did the trick. Once at full
stretch, several meters up, the WindJam07 kite flew very well, weaving
maybe 1 or 2 meters to each side. In perfectly smooth air it probably
wouldn't move much at all.
Even in such light air, I was a bit nervous about attaching the
kite to the 3kg fishing line we use for the MBK kites. The WindJam07
kite was so much bigger, and every little gust tugged on my hand much
harder than an MBK 1-Skewer Sled, Diamond or Delta has ever done! I could do
without the embarrassment of seeing my new Windjam07 kite float away
after an extra-strong puff from the faster-moving air higher up.
When You Hear Fireworks...
Are you wondering how on earth the organizers tell more than a thousand people spread out over a beach when to fly their kites for a crack at the record? Easy, just send up some giant fireworks to give one minute's notice! Nothing much to see in the broad daylight, but even those who hadn't read their programs soon realized what was going on.
The first lot of fireworks erupted into a blue patch of sky,
showering bright little points of colored light all around. Smoke
drifted slowly downwind, as a buzz ran through the crowd 'get the kites
in the air!'.
There was also a second attempt some 10 minutes or so after the
first. I got the distinct impression that someone was timing the
attempts with periods when the breeze seemed to freshen a little. Were
they using some local sailor with local knowledge of the sea breeze or
something? Were they using wind meters? Who knows.
During the second attempt, I heard a nearby official pleading
with people to get inside the 'official' area in order for their kite to
be counted. Oops. Like many others, I had moved outside for some room
to fly! Anyway, I dutifully went back in and tried to keep my kite in
By this time, several other kite strings had mysteriously
stretched to many times their original length. Someone must have snuck
in with totally unauthorized sets of long strings! :-)
Some minor incidents from WindJam07 that I remember, just for some 'human interest'... or something...
We gave Aren a go at flying the kite while May, my wife tried to
photograph it. He promptly let go of the line, letting the kite float
off and nearly clobbering a lady sitting on the sand before I could
catch it. We tried again, with me holding the line a little way out for
safety, but he just threw the reel onto the sand for the fun of it.
Sigh. Never mind. Such are 18 month old kite pilots.
During the second record attempt, as I was making my way through
the crowd looking for a good spot, another kite contacted my flying line
and slid down it towards me. I turned to the flyer and made some
comment about 'fighting kites, like in India'. He said something about
'they used to do it in Thailand too'.
Someone who had obviously flown kites before tried attaching a
flying line to the cross bar of another kite. Thereby 'stacking' the 2
kites in the air. Now does that count as one or two kites according to the rules?
A young guy, perhaps an engineering student, had extended his
flying line by a meter or so by attaching it to a plastic bag! I guess
he was trying to get into some smooth air just above the rest of the
I think I'll wrap it up there. Hope you enjoyed my account of
WindJam07 in Adelaide, South Australia! Hopefully, this page has
provided a little more detail than Channel 10 did in their afternoon
broadcast! ;-) Actually, we walked past the reporter mid-interview as we
returned to our car.
P.S. What was the actual record for WindJam07? Officially,
1127 kites, although that hadn't been independently verified when this
page was first written. England held the previous record of some 900+
kites in the air at once.