Kiteboarding Safety – Take Every Precaution to be Safe
Your well being, the well being of others, and the reputation of our sport depend on it.
Kiteboarding safety is everyone’s responsibility. Kiteboarding is a dynamic sport; there is a lot going on and a lot to pay attention to. Every rider needs to think about his safety and the safety of others – we need to think about it before, during, and after our sessions. Without a deep understanding and a constant awareness of safety procedures, someone could be hurt.
The topics contained in this page will cover:
- General Safety Advice
- Your Equipment – Make sure it’s safe and that you understand its safety features.
- The Weather– It’s the one thing you can’t control, so you better be able to read it.
- The Self Rescue – Make sure you can come home if your equipment fails.
- The Wind Direction - The self rescue is useless in some winds...Stay away from them.
- Lofting - Your kite can lift you and toss you inland if you aren't careful, so start building good habits now.
- Bystander Safety – They may not know anything about our sport so let’s make sure we don’t hurt them.
The topics covered here are not exhaustive. A good mix of experience, local knowledge, and education is the best way to keep safe.
General Kiteboarding Safety
Although this list is not exhaustive, here are some safety points to keep in mind when kiteboarding.
Before You Go Out.
Check your equipment for wear and tear. Worn equipment can fail and cause a difficult situation.
Attach your lines correctly and make sure they aren’t worn or have any knots.
If leaving your kite on the ground, disconnect the lines and place weight on the front of the kite to secure it.
Always choose a kite that is the right size.
Know the weather forecast and assess the conditions as you arrive at your site.
- Keep a continual eye on the weather. Be aware of any changes that may be occurring.
Know your limits. Don’t ever push yourself beyond your capabilities unless it is safe to do so! (Eg. If you can’t sail upwind, you shouldn’t ride in offshore winds unless you have a rescue boat or a guaranteed way to get home)
Never sail further away from shore than you can swim with your gear.
Do not jump close to obstacles.
Know how to complete a self rescue.
Don’t get overtired. Kiteboarding can be exhausting so come home before you wear yourself out – it’s much more fun that way.
Safety Features on Your Equipment
Each and every kite style (Bow, C, and 5th Line) has a safety system. While they all work a little differently, they all de-power the kite to some degree. To activate these safety systems, all you need to do is release the chicken loop quick release and the kite (working in conjunction with the safety leash) will de-power. Read about this process in detail here.
Weather – It’s wild, it’s wonderful, and it’s unpredictable… Without it we would not be able to kiteboard. However, there are several weather systems that can create unsafe conditions for riding. Read about them here in Unsafe Weather Conditions.
The Self Rescue
The self rescue is used in the case that you cannot fly your kite and are still out on the water (i.e. If you released the chicken loop or have a broken line). This kiteboarding safety technique allows you to use your kite like a sail to drag you back into shore. You can read how it is done here.
The Wind Direction
The direction that the wind is blowing has an important effect on your ability to come back to shore. Make sure you understand which conditions will blow you out to sea so that you can avoid them! Find out in this article.
Lofting is a dangerous situation where riders are tossed into the air by a strong gust of wind. It is unintentional, which makes it so dangerous; riders can be thrown inland. Don't let it happen to you! Learn what causes lofting and how to avoid it in this article.
Because kiteboarding is a new sport that is very impressive to watch, it can attract a lot of attention. You will find that many people come closer to take a look, so it is important to take precautions to ensure their safety. Keep the following in mind when dealing with curious onlookers:
- Remember that not everyone understands the danger of our sport. It is up to us to stay far enough away from onlookers to keep them safe.
Never allow anyone to come between you and your kite. In case something was to happen, the lines could hurt them.
When riding, always stay 50 m upwind and 30 m downwind of bystanders (this rule is true with all obstacles, but don’t expect onlookers to honor it.) If anyone comes closer, take the initiative and move away.
If you need to use a bystander to help you launch or land your kite, clearly explain to them exactly what they need to do beforehand. Make sure they understand your instructions before proceeding.
Thats all for this kiteboarding safety page. Please keep in mind that this list of kiteboarding safety items is by no means exhaustive. Always use your good judgment, talk to other riders, and speak to your instructor during your lessons to find out more.
If you are interested in reading more, here are the links to more detailed explanations of the topics above.