I can't claim all the credit for the idea, that belongs in no small part to Mark Parker from Kitevibe.
One afternoon Mark and I were discussing our preparations for NABX, and the design for the kite I hoped to have ready in time for the event (featured in Kite Making 3), when Mark said, "you should build one to support them you know".
Now, I love kite-making, but part of me groaned inside when he said that. It was already February, and I already had one 12m kite to build - a damn complicated one too!
Next was an email to Dean Jordan to get NABX on board, and so the project began.
As NABX is an American event, and I shamelessly wanted to get as much interest as possible, I chose the Stars & Stripes as the basis for the design.
NABX & Ozone Project
Custom built Manta M3 12m to be raffled at NABX 2011
I'm the first to admit that I'm a big Ozone Fanboy. I've been flying and loving their kites since I was first introduced to an Access XC back in 2008. Since then I've amassed a collection of no less than 19 Ozone kites (not including the ones I buy to rebuild).
I've yet to fly a bad kite from Ozone: as far as my experience goes, they range from "good" to "astonishing" - their snow-kites in particular are out-of-this-world.
So, it was only natural that I chose the Manta M3 as the basis for the NABX project.
My Las Vegas flight was booked for 26th March; quite how I was going to get it done was beyond me. Never-the-less, I do like a challenge, and so sent an email to Matt Taggert at Ozone outlining the idea, and asking for his permission to replicate the Manta M3.
A couple of days later Matt got back to me with a resounding "yes" - I was over the moon. He said that Ozone would be happy to supply a new bridle & speed system, which was an absolute God send, saving me several day's work.
My kites are usually double sided i.e. with a different design on the upper and lower skins, and this one was no different. The flag carries from front to back, so whatever angle you see the kite from, the design is always there.
Perversely, although a simple design, that very simplicity led to a schoolboy error!
The design on the upper skin is a mirror of the lower skin, not something I ever usually contend with, and so, of course, I completely forgot that I had to reverse out the design on the upper skin, to keep the good side of the sewn fabric on the outside!
So, all the time Ozone had saved me by sending me a bridle & speed system, I wasted having to unpick near on a mile of sewing; what a berk!
Setbacks aside I made astonishingly good progress, and sent the email telling Matt and Dean it was finished on February 25th. Plenty of time then to work on my own 12m, which had been shifted to the back burner while the NABX kite came together.
How wrong I was! Two days later I was taken to hospital with acute Pneumonia in both lungs, and spent the next 10 days being variously scanned, x-rayed, and pumped full of intravenous antibiotics!
Trust me when I say this: you DO NOT want to experience the sensation of a huge needle being slid into your lungs to drain off fluid.
So, now, on Doctor's orders, I'm to take it easy for the next couple of weeks; no more kite making for a while then!
Now I've had a chance to test fly it, all my memories of why the Manta M3 is such a great kite have come flooding back: the glorious progressive lift, the incredibly tactical feedback from the bar, and the sheer joy of being in complete control of such a monster of a kite is something everyone should experience at least once.
All that remains is to pack the kite ready up to head to NABX, and to say a huge thanks to the guys at Ozone for their support: I couldn't have done it without them.