We all know this but often don't accept or practice it. So for a short while, lets deal in REALITY, beyond denial, over confidence and blowing everything off with "I can handle it".
1. Riders must use kite depowering leashes that are attached to their body. If they cramp your style, find or build a better one, BUT use one starting the NEXT time you ride. Check your leash often and make sure it works properly, reliably and won't break. A depowering loop that you can manually grab at the end of your bar isn't reliable enough and will likely result in serious problems someday.
2. Use a safety release system for your chicken loop or centerline loop. Using a safety loop or snap shackle alone, may protect the rider but it sends your kite off fully powered for others to deal with successfully or tragically.
3. Follow the Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines and other safe and appropriate practices. This isn't the Boy Scouts, and this isn't a needless exercise, this is a great extreme sport that can be dangerous. To go at this sport without appropriate safety gear, caution, training and judgment will generate needless, avoidable accidents and incidents.
We need to advance safety in this sport if it is going to continue to be viable. Even with doing all of the above and more, there will be accidents and incidents. At least in following the above cautions, many needless problems will never occur.
Last year in August I posted the following message to the Yahoo!Group: kitesurf:
I was very lucky that nothing serious happened...
It happened Sunday before last weekend, I had
a blast at Waddel Creek with my AirBlast 6.3
and Litewave 169 and NSI Tantrums. I am using
the Wipika bar with permanent depower loop
and "locked" it in my harness.
iwindsurf was reading 20 - 35 mph at that time.
When doing a loop jybe pretty near the shore
I noticed a AR5 flying in my lines without
a rider at the bar's end and of course it
caught my lines. Pointing offshore, the
kite "stack" was then pointing onshore and
the other guy's kitebar was moving up to my kite.
Of course there was little control and due to
the now really overpowered pull of my stack of kites
I could not get out of the locked-in control bar. I tried
to get the kites down to ground, so that I had a chance
to unlock the depower loop and unhook myself, but in
these windspeeds the stack was just pulling all the time
and the kites were bouncing back in the air. After
a short time I was pulled western style on the beach behind
the kites. The guy who let the AR5 go wanted me to let go,
but I was still locked in. After maybe 100 ft being
dragged on the beach I was thinking about the street
that was not too far away anymore. Then the guy could
reach the leader lines and another guy caught one kite
and I released myself. No injuries happened. My kite
is still in perfect shape, but the AR5 was destroyed.
The scary thing is that there was such a massive pull
from the stack in these winds that you can't believe it.
Being in bindings did not help either. You just could
not react like you wanted. I would have tried to cut
the lines with my DaKine harness hook knife shortly after
that point, but I do not know if that would have worked
in that situation where you were dragged like a feather weight
behind "your" kites.
After that incident I packed my stuff and called it a day.
8 days after that I still think about quitting kitesurfing.
I do not blame the other kiter, he was experienced and I
also let go my 6.3 there once when it launched in the powerzone
and I did not use a safety leash. The amount of kiters will
still keep rapidly growing leaving much less space for mistakes.
I now understand why some people try to ban kiting. It IS
dangerous and if you thought you have everything all the
time under control you might be wrong. The power can be tremendous.
Losing control is not always your fault. I had several
incidents before that when beginners where pulled downwind
out of control and nearly catching my kite lines. The problem
is you do not see them when you are downwind of them.
I do not blame the Wipika depower setup, either. I like it
and do not know if I would have been able to unhook from
a "normal" depower loop in that situation.
Maybe I will try to stay upwind of everyone in the future
or quit. But I don't think so, it's too much fun on the water.
But there might be a big problem with too many kiters at the spots
pretty soon needing too much space each.
Thanks for reposting your accident account here Robin. I have heard of other similar cases where a runaway kite wrapped another kiteboarders lines and sent things out of control at high power. I am also reminded of the rider a couple of years ago in Maui that ran into the lines of a runaway kite while riding. The runaway kite powered up after wrapping around his ankle and cut halfway through his ankle and into bone.
Kite leash use is an important thing. Skill doesn't come into it. With enough time, all riders will release kites. We can no longer afford the price of runaway kites. Not that we ever could, small numbers of riders only made it seem so.
Safety is the number one thing in kitesurfing... let's be honest you can't boost big air when you're dead and it's no fun watching the fun from the beach because of an injury suffered due to being careless, macho or overconfident.
Injuries do happen... I've injured myself a few times and one of my friends nearly got himself killed due to lax saftey procedures on his part.
There have been a number of incidents around where I live due to "advanced" riders not using saftey leashes because they get in the way. They end up letting go of the kite when things get bad and the kite flies downwind... a couple of occasions the kites have landed on powerlines and cut power... expensive mistake as the kite responsible went up in smoke!!
I'm definately not a fan of kiting at a beach crowded with kites... experts seem the most dangerous as they take more risks and don't have leashes. To a lesser extent beginners are dangerous as well but at least they are easy to stay away from and they hopefully go out when conditions are a lot safer (ie 10 knots consistant breeze).
Sooo important that this sport doesn't get a bad reputation because of a silly few.
Totally agree with Robin... the worst accidents are the ones you have no control over and are caused by someone elses stupidiy.
all the above pushed us to do this bar system. we wanted to do rotations and we wanted a safety leash. when we went on the water we always felt bad not having the leash but had a great time doing rotations, therefore didn't want to use a leash.
But know it is so great being able to do almost anything and having the safety.
But unfortunately it came out too late, otherwise one georgeous woman would be still with us and this fact makes us sad.
On the other side it makes us happy, being able to save more lifes and bringing the fun back on the water.
"distance is your friend"
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Toby on 2002-08-13 09:32 ]</font>