Portugal KiteCoimbra – the cultural capital of Portugal.

Knowing absolutely nothing of this region of Europe it seemed like a good idea to find out a little before descending upon their second city. It’s actually the home of vintage port and the world famous explorer Vasco Da Gamma and we guessed that was all the cultural information we needed.

On arrival at the airport our taxi driver Paulo appeared holding a card with our names lofted high – he had this enormous smile until he saw how much equipment we had brought. Ten minutes into the journey to break the ice and asked about the vintage port which prompted a thirty minute conversation about their national tipple, changing the subject Ian then enquired about Vasco Da Gamma prompting a further thirty minute conversation………sorted, this guy knows everything!

The first morning and we’re called for the official press launch of the event – this consisted of a large number of local children making kites with the delegates from Singapore and China.

Coimbra Kite

Domingo the organiser imported for the event from Spain took us to see the flying arena. Around me you get tell by the jaw dropping looks many were not impressed! I smiled wryly at Ian and he smiled back with a look that said “game on”. As we surveyed the flying site it was plain to see it was nothing more than a building site prickling with bulldozers, tractors, workmen, pipe work, trunking and concrete! Unfazed we were reliably informed that by the start of the event we would have a nice smooth surface on which to perform!

Portugal’s first International kite festival was to kick off a whole three month series of cultural events to promote their city. It was important for the organisers for the event to be successful and as such the enthusiasm and effort that they made to achieve this was second to none.

Following the press launch other International guests had arrived all meeting up at a local restaurant which gave us the opportunity to chill out and do the who’s who. Some of the fliers we had met before in Colombia and the articles that appeared in Issue One of Power Kite Magazine became the topic of many a ‘conversation’.

International Power Kite

The event kicked off on the Saturday morning at 10am – we arrived promptly while some of our colleagues arrived somewhat later due to the festivities the night before.

Suprisingly, the builders had flattened the flying area as promised with only some of the pipe work and concrete remaining.

The site was fairly narrow with a river on one side and steel barriers on the other and apart from the aforementioned obstacles we also had a tree to avoid right in the middle of arena!

Over 130 fliers attempting to fly in this area managed to make the event electric with representatives from China, Spain, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Lebanon, Holland, Thailand, Venezuela, Italy and Israel pulling on a multitude of differing kites.

Middle of the day was showtime for us and joined by Fernando from Chile we navigated between all the obstacles and fliers present to an appreciative crowd.

Team Kite Display

Power Kiting was obviously new to them and it was surprising to see them back away from us when we got close - even though there was steel reinforced crash barriers’ separating them from the performers.

At one point the kite catcher aka. ‘The Tree’ made an impromptu performance and refused to let go of Ian’s kite for upto an hour.

All attempts to rescue the kite from the grasp of the gnarly tree provided as much entertainment for the public as did our actual performance.

Not to be outdone by Ian the tree then grabbed hold of my kite as I went past a little bit too close, the crowd saw this as our finale as it resulted in tremendous cheers and claps from the watching crowd.

For what seemed like the next few hours (probably minutes) we managed to rescue both kites from the tree to loud rapturous applause from the crowd, we were back in business!

Power Kiting in Portugal

As the day went on all the flyers had the opportunity to exhibit their kites and day one of the event turned out to be very successful.

Sunday
At breakfast we were starting to receive odd looks from people in the café, this was explained when one of the organisers appeared clutching a sheaf of newspapers full of pictures of the previous days events…it seems that the publicity machine had done its job….. well!

Sunday’s activities commenced slightly later but fortunately there was a lot more wind.

The wind in Portugal was either on or off which led to some pretty interesting sights, it’s not often ALL kites and flags drop simultaneously together en masse.

Everything fell out of the sky at once as if by some Godly hand had turned off the fan… just a few minutes later the wind would come back full-on without warning…weird!

Power Kiting in Coimbra

We took advantage of the higher winds and when it did come in we managed to perform some airs, spins and some body dragging in the water this time keeping well out of the way of the ‘wooded nemesis’!

Portugal’s first event of its cultural series passed off quite successfully despite some of the difficulties with the flying site.

Coimbra is an excellent city steeped in history and well worth a visit.

The people were friendly and receptive and the organisers pulled out all the stops to make the event the success that it was.

If you get the chance try not to miss the next Portugal International Kite Festival.

Words: Dan Eaton 

(Powerkiteshop) and Ian Meredith

Kite Buggying Portugal

Photography: Dan Eaton, Ian Meredith, Derek Kuhn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kite Buggying in Coimbra