Dancing in air: An inside look at sport-kite flying

Water Chatter speaks to Team AirNergy, a Singapore-based sport-kite performance team, who shares their love for the sport and lets us in on the secret behind making your kites dance in the sky!

There are kites, and then there are sport kites. Commonly known as a stunt kite, a sport-kite can be maneuvered in the air using multiple lines. Performances can also be done as individuals, a pair of pilots, or as a team. Team AirNergy is one such sport-kite flying team from Singapore and they have performed at kites festivals in France, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, India and Singapore! They will be making a special appearance at this year’s Kite Day @ Marina Barrage which is happening on 1 & 2 August 2015! Before we get to see them in action, let’s hear from Chua Lin, one of the members of Team AirNergy, who tells us more about sport kite flying.

img_0935-2-1024x683(L to R: Chua Lin (blue kite), Peter Teo (purple kite), Zulkifli Mohamed (Red kite) and Adenan Haron (Lime kite))

What is Team AirNergy all about and how did you guys get into flying sport kites?

Team AirNergy was formed in Dec 2010 and we fly 4-line sport-kites from Revolution kites (USA) exclusively. There are 4 members in the team: myself, Peter Teo, Zulkifli and Adenan. Each of us started kite flying at different times. The common denominator that got us into it was basically curiosity! We see something interesting that someone is doing and started dabbling into it ourselves. Among us, Peter has been flying sport-kites for the longest (about 20 years), while the rest of us (myself, Zulkifli and Adenan) have been flying sport kites for about 10 years each. Between us, we have more than 50 years of kite-flying experience!

Before we formed the team officially, we have known each other for quite a while as members of the Singapore Kite Association (SKA). We have attended many kite festivals, both local and overseas, as members of SKA. Back then, we were mainly flying individually or together very informally – nothing to shout about nor were we able to put up anything decent enough to be called a performance! As the frequency of our attendance at the festivals grew, many of our foreign kite-flying friends encouraged us to form a team so that we could put up proper and decent performances for the public. In addition to the egging on from our friends, we also realized that flying together and putting in a collective effort beats flying by ourselves hands-down, no question! It was after much thought and discussions that we decided to form an official sport-kite team. That was the birth of Team AirNergy! The name encapsulates the element of air + energy = WIND!

What is it about the kite flying that appeals to you, even after so long?

The feel of the wind against our back, the pull of the kite on the kite line, the beauty of the kite display and the “ooohs” and “aaahs” from the public appreciating the kites are some of the pleasures we get from kite flying. Through kite flying, we have also gotten to know many friends from all walks of life from around the world when we attend kite festivals. This has been one of the great joys that this hobby brings. Kite flying gets us outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, a healthy dose of sunshine and company of good friends. Specifically for sport-kiting, there are some “extras” on top of those already mentioned. As we fly our kites and synchronizing the kite movements to the music, it adds another dimension to the appeal factor both to ourselves and to the viewing public.

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I’ve seen some of the videos of your performance and am very intrigued by how you guys can stay so coordinated. Is it very difficult to stay coordinated throughout a whole performance? Do you have to practice a lot? What is your training regime like?

First of all, thank you very much for your kind words and we are glad that you liked our performances! Each of our performance is a kite ballet routine. There are no secrets other than practising the routines together as a team to the music.

More often than not, we approach a new routine by selecting an appropriate piece of music first and foremost. This is followed by putting moves together than fits the music or the theme it is trying to convey. We go about by trying out ideas in our mind, then putting the ideas into practice. The whole routine is then created by linking the segments of ideas together to form a complete piece. Once we have settled on most parts of the routine, it is time to commit the routine to memory. Each of us will have to remember our own moves and how each of our moves ties in with the rest of the team and most importantly, to the music. e.g, speed synchronization, overall geometry and shape etc. From then on, it’s just practice after practice, until we have the routine down pat. In team flying, it is the overall output of the team members that matters most even though each of us have to fulfil our own roles while having fun flying together. As the name says it all, (T)ogether (E)veryone (A)chieves (M)ore!

What are some of the challenges that you have faced during kite-flying?

As the wind conditions can be unpredictable during our performance, we have to be alert to changes in the environment e.g, the wind direction could shift or get lighter or stronger midway through the performance. That is when it calls for a little creativity and trust among the team members to pull it through to the end of the performance. Having said that, it is not uncommon that we have to abort our performance midway should the wind suddenly stops and there is not enough room on the kite field for us to manoeuvre ourselves. It is not something we could help with but we try to make the best of the situation.


What are some of your favourite places to fly kites in Singapore and why?

There are limited places to fly kites in Singapore. For us flying as a team, we require an open area with reasonably smooth winds and minimal obstacles upwind. That means there should be minimal obstructions like tall trees or buildings behind us, given that the wind should be blowing from behind us. We also have to be mindful of general safety aspects like not flying near to power lines, aircraft zones and where public safety can be compromised. Moreover, given the two dominant monsoon seasons in Singapore, it makes selection of flying spots even more tricky. East Coast Park is one of our regular flying spots during the Southwest monsoon season as the wind coming from the sea is smooth and without obstruction. During the Northeast monsoon season, Lorong Halus area or Punggol are some feasible flying spots.

Can you give us a teaser as to what we’re going to see during your performance at the Kite Day @ Marina Barrage?

Depending on the wind conditions, we will be putting up our favourite routines. So catch us there if you can and drop by for a chat if you’d like to know more about kite flying! Otherwise, you can read up more about us or watch our performances on Youtube via our webpage at http://teamairnergy.wordpress.com/

Don’t miss out on the fun and exciting performances by Team AirNergy as well as the other kite-flying teams during Kite Day @ Marina Barrage! On 1 & 2 Aug, fliers from all over the world will gather once more at the rooftop of Marina Barrage to showcase their uniquely designed giant kites and outstanding flying skill. With these year’s theme being SG 50, special aerial stunts will be performed by the local and international fliers! There are also lots of other activities to take part in such as kite/windmill -making workshops, lolli-drops and much more. Come join us on this fun-filled weekend! Admission to this event is free! For more information, visit http://www.pub.gov.sg/marina/news/Pages/KiteEvent2014.aspx

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