The Self Rescue
The Self Rescue is a technique to bring yourself back to shore using only your kite. By holding the kite by both wingtips you can form a sail that will pull you into shore. If you know how to do this, you will be able to bring yourself home in case of equipment failure.
The Self Rescue
Don’t Expect to Go Upwind.
This maneuver is not intended to drag you upwind. Because the kite causes so much resistance in the water, you will drift slightly downwind as you head for shore. This means that you should be riding in either onshore, side-onshore, or side shore winds. Side offshore winds will also work, provided that you have a long beach. To see a photo explanation, click here.
How is it Done?
If the kite isn’t already in the water, release the chicken loop to safely de-power it. The objective is to hold both tips of the kite in your hands so you can use it like a sail, but first you need to deal with the bar and lines. Once the kite is in the water:
Swim to your control bar. Wind the line that the safety leash is attached to until all other lines have no tension. When this happens, wrap them around the bar also. The only line you want to have tension is the safety leash line. This way the kite will not re-power as you wind the lines. But…Don’t spend too much time worrying with the lines; the point of the self rescue is to save yourself!
Once the lines are wrapped, secure them so they don’t unwind.
Swim to the closest wingtip of the kite. Take the wingtip and hold it between your knees.
Crawl towards / pull the other wingtip to you.
Once you have both wingtips, grab them by the bridles (the front lines that attach to the kite) or by the self rescue handles (some kites have them sewn on wingtips).
Use the kite like a sail and drag yourself home!
Note: If you find that you and your kite are pointing in the wrong direction, repeat steps 3-6, but start with the opposite wingtip. For this to work, the kite-sail needs to be pointing towards the shore (i.e. the kite needs to be between you and the shore).
What if the Wind Dies?
If you are out riding and the wind suddenly stops, the steps above won’t do you any good. In this case:
Wrap up your lines and secure them.
- Grab the kite by a wingtip, hold your board in the other hand and kick your way to shore.
OR…Lie on top of the kite (on top of the middle strut) and paddle back. It is easy to keep track of your board if you lie on top of it (but keep it outside the kite - the fins can damage the fabric)
That’s all that is required to successfully pull this off. Try practicing with your kite so that the feeling is not unfamiliar if you ever need to do this.