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Kiteboarder Fatality in Spain

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Postby RickI » Fri Sep 06, 2002 10:37 pm

54. Incident # 9 02 1 "Kiteboarder Fatality in Spain" Location: Valencia, Spain

Date: September 2, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 4


A new kiteboarder of about two months experience was preparing to launch his approximate 16 m, four line Naish kite. A storm was approaching and other kiteboarders had told him not to launch his kite in the imminent storm conditions. The new kiteboarder said he could handle things, ignored this advice and went back to setting up his kite. It was indicated that this new kiteboarder had shown over-confidence in his abilities in the past and was not receptive to advice. It was indicated that the kiteboarder was still working on getting up on his board. He was flying his kite while hooked into the chicken loop on the beach for about 5 to 6 minutes, apparently with the intent of body dragging in the water. Suddenly a storm gust hit, lofted the kiteboarder inland over an unspecified distance towards some town home dwellings along the shoreline. Following impact the man got up, apparently uninjured while still hooked in and walked towards the kite carrying his control bar. A second gust hit, estimated to be on the order of 35 to 40 kts. and carried the rider a short distance into a privacy wall around a town home. The kiteboarder was not wearing a helmet and died as a result of the impact. The over all horizontal distance of travel was estimated to be 10 m (33 ft.).

Lessons learned

1. Always take adequate kiteboarding lessons. The price of learning on your own may be too high.
2. Always avoid unstable squally weather. Check weather predictions, real-time wind reports and color radar out in advance of your kiteboarding session. If excessive gusty or stormy weather is in the area or moving towards your area, don't go kiteboarding. While out kiteboarding always be aware of weather conditions and come in well in advance of serious wind speed, direction or temperature changes related to storms. If in doubt, come in.
3. Never approach your kite while attached to your control bar unless an assistant is firmly holding your kite. If you must walk up to your kite under these conditions, grasp one line only and carefully walk towards the kite while maintaining tension on this one line only. Gloves are a good idea if this technique is used. It would be safest for the kiteboarder however not necessarily for bystanders to remove your kite leash after tensioning the one line but before walking towards the kite.

4. Don't launch hooked in or attached to your bar, particularly if you are new to kiteboarding. Rehearse letting go of your bar to activate your leash. Test your leash in advance of trouble to improve the chances of it working properly (see link listed below).

5. Never fly your kite onshore for extended periods. Launch it with the kite near the water, raise it high enough to clear obstacles (20 to 30 degrees of the land) and go offshore immediately.

6. Always wear appropriate safety gear including at a minimum a well fitting, good quality helmet, an impact pfd, a hook knife(s), a whistle and gloves.

7. Never allow over-confidence to put you into a critically vulnerable position. This will take some self-awareness and honesty, but the price of self-deception may be more than you wish to pay.

8. Review the documents listed under Kiteboarding Resources for ideas on how to potentially kiteboard more safely. The documents and ideas have been prepared from analysis of actual kiteboarding incidents and accidents. ... EFERENCES/


This accident and fatality could easily have been avoided. It is important to note that this could happen to ANYONE under similar circumstances. Kites are extremely powerful under violent wind gust loading. It was readily predictable, trouble had been anticipated by other riders and good advice given to the new kiteboarder, which was ignored. The kiteboarder apparently trivialized the hazard or didn't bother to consider the logical consequences of his actions. Of course it is unlikely the other kiteboarders would have predicted this severe of an outcome. Kiteboarders that fly near storms should eventually expect violent, sudden winds and potentially serious consequences. Many kiteboarders have been injured to date and some have been killed by the effects of storms or squalls. The only reasonable solution is to use good judgment and knowledge to avoid circumstances such as these. New riders while still learning need to be particularly cautious. Experienced riders need to understand what is at risk and be prepared to be injured if they choose to kiteboard near such conditions. We really need to effectively spread the word about the hazards of unstable stormy weather. Too many riders do not view it as having any real significance. Perhaps cattle in the field show the same lack of concern to a pending lightening storm. We need to learn from these experiences and spread the lessons effectively to our fellow riders. This puts particular burdens on kiteboarding retailers, instructors, associations and the media. If we wish to avoid, avoidable accidents and occasional fatalities this communication needs to effectively occur. Additional information on storms and kiteboarding appears in the General References at the Internet location listed above.

Additional information appears at:


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: RickI on 2002-09-07 01:26 ]</font>

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