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Postby RickI » Mon Nov 07, 2005 3:03 pm

jamescarlyle wrote:Great thread.

My point of view is that in winter (in the U.K) I always take less risks - this means being conservative, putting up a smaller kite and using a bigger board, and sometimes just cruising around. I also listen to my body - if I make a mistake in a transition, often I use that as a sign that I am getting tired and call it a day.

Signals, good topic James. What signs of fatigue and excess cold do riders in colder conditions use as a cue to get in and warm up and/or call it a day?

Pushing the envelop into fatigue and hypothermia can really reduce the margin for error while increasing the odds for having errors.

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Cold Weather Kiting

Postby Daudbhai » Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:04 pm

My theory is this. Although I have a dry suit with all the trimmings I still don't feel safe kiting in temparatures below short of wearing a 4/3mm wetsuit. For when I am in the Northeast of the US usually winter time is difficult for a lot of us here as we are jonesing for a session and dreaming about the summer days ahead. However, when Spring arrives in April and air temps can hit 65 degrees farenheit the water can still be in the low 40's and hence it is necessary for a loose fitting drysuit with warm clothes underneath but even so I have all that gear I am not comfortable going into the water for reasons like drysuit leakage or failure. I start to kite in late March where the water can be 38 degrees farenheit and the air is 65-70 degrees but my sessions are short. I only go because I am jonesing and they are short sessions. May-June the water temps increase fast because of the atlantic gulf stream and you can use a 3/2 at 53-56 degrees. Late June waters are warm enough for a shorty.

As for cold weather kiting. There are a few hard core kiters that brave it all but for me coldweather kiting is dangerous. My cutoff for kiting begins when the water fall below 50 degress farenheit and air temps at 40 or below. Any lower than that you are playing with your life and you SHOULD have a lot of faith in your drysuit gear. I don't because anything can happen in kiting. Cold weather kiting really SUCKS in my opinion.

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Postby steveb » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:10 pm

Rule 1 no wetsuits, if you're measuring air and water temps you should not go near the water without a reliable dry suit, gloves, booties,rubber helmet, basically profalactic man.
I'm in Minnesotta and typically we use the 100 rule, water and air temp.
The lakes are usually iced over by the end of November and thaw late April,lots of hardy souls ride up to ice in and hit the water as soon as it's soft.
The biggest problem riding in cold is the body uses lots of your energy to try to maintain warmth. A swim that would be a no brainer in summer could be the end of you. It's amazing how the cold draws your energy reserves...quickly.
Don't ride as long, don't ride without friends, don't ride away from the pack,watch your buddies, if you feel remotely tired call it a day.
3 minutes in really cold water and you're drained. You don't think straight, you make errors in judgement and you don't have the energy to fix a problem. Even a simple tangle or twist can become too complex to deal with.
Most of the people who ride late and early in the year have had some frost bite, it's easy to ride too long and not notice the problem. The damage stays with you, maybe tingles in your fingers or your fingers chill earlier once the cold air comes. Personally I have 3 fingers which have been affected by minor frost bite and as I get older the minor nerve damage is becoming a pain in the ass.
Check your gear, if a line looks slightly worn replace it. Don't use mechanical
releases like the surefire they can freeze shut.
Have fun be safe.

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Postby JS » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:02 pm


Drysuits are great, but don't forget that they become totally ineffective if they get punctured or develop a bad leak, including that caused by gasket failure. The chance of this is probably very small, but if it does happen, you will be effectively swimming without any reasonable thermal protection, and it could kill you within minutes in adverse conditions. Please consider this when deciding how far from shore you are willing to be.

I often sail a catamaran which has lots of sharp hardware that could tear my drysuit during a wipeout. When I am sailing solo, I customarily wear a shorty wetsuit under my drysuit and other layers to give me an added measure of safety in case of a drysuit failure, and when I'm kiteboarding in cold conditions, I try to always think about how far I can swim if things turn ugly.

Best regards, James

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Postby BK » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:52 pm

Beware the cold water. When making the go/no go decision, ask yourself three questions: What is my level of conditioning? What is my ability level? Do I have the right gear? If you are learning you are going to be down in the water a lot more. Be sure you have done all you can to make sure you gear is in good working order and condition. When considering gear, your suit is critical. If you are new to the sport don’t get caught making the assumption that a $99 wetsuit is going to do the job of a steamer or dry suit, which may look like a plain wetsuit. A steamer usually has a smooth, non-wicking skin, taped & glued seams, seals that let very little water in, and is constructed of a thicker neoprene. If the combined air and water temp is below 110 degrees F, booties, gloves, and a hood are wise. If the combined temp is below 80, well, that is where I draw the line. Everyone has to come up with there own guidelines. The important part is to do your research, talk to others, and have a plan before you show up with the adrenaline pumping.

Regarding what actually can happen, let’s look at a scenario where you are ridding hard and making enough of your own heat and adrenaline to be comfortable, and then you drop the kite. 45 degree water feels like a kick in the face. Your adrenaline buzz goes away quickly and you need to get up quick. Stay in too long and your extremities start to feel like stumps, which makes it even harder to get going. It is a vicious cycle. Furthermore, when you temp really starts to drop, you start to feel like you have had a few cocktails further diminishing your decision making and coordination.

Symptoms usually develop slowly. Someone with hypothermia typically experiences gradual loss of mental acuity and physical ability. The key symptom of hypothermia is a body temperature that drops to less than 94 F. Signs include:

• Shivering
• Slurred speech
• Abnormally slow rate of breathing
• Cold, pale skin
• Loss of coordination
• Fatigue, lethargy or apathy
• Irritability, combativeness

I have seen very competent riders with the correct gear towed in like a log due to hypothermia. We have also lost a waterman up at Little Point Sable who was ridding alone in cold water. So here are the tips:

1. Know your level of condition, ability, and gear.
3. Know how to recognize the warning signs of hypothermia.
4. Know the air and water temp before you head out.
5. Don’t go out further than you are willing and able to swim.

Answer the following question, and have a great season!
I consider myself to be __________.

A. Intelligent, I learn from my own mistakes.
B. Wise, I learn from the mistakes of others.
C. Neither A. or B., I could end up a candidate for the “Darwin Awardâ€

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Postby bolt » Wed Nov 16, 2005 2:24 am

that's a right on bk

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Postby fernmanus » Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:07 am

Last Saturday, I had the option of riding in 50 degree air with 50 degree water or going snow kiting. Picked snow kiting, the great thing about snow kiting is that I rarely get cold. It is a lot easier to stay warm if you don't get wet.

I personally have given up water kiting when the temp goes below 50. I once had cold water enter my ear and I was totally dizzy and disoriented. I felt lucky to make it to the shore. I am grateful that I can go snowkiting in the mountains when the lakes get too cold.


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Postby RickI » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:05 pm

Lots of excellent information, thanks guys. These are the kind of posts that can make a difference.

Klaus passed along a link to a kayaker site prepared by Matt Broze of Mariner Kayaks. Kayakers in the open sea share some of the hazards that confront kiteboarders including hypothermia and unstable wind/weather/waves. The section is located at: It is worth a read even for kiteboarders.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

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Postby Cape Cod Kite Chick » Sun Dec 04, 2005 5:21 pm

Anybody that goes by the 100 rule here would miss 1/2 the season. :lame1: Kjelleren's post on the 1st page of this thread best reflects my experiences in cold weather kiting these last 3 winters here in New England. I could say more but it's all already been said in this thread.

Just wanted to say that some rules are meant to be broken and the 100 rule is one of them. If the right precautions are taken you can kite down to about 65: ~30 degree F water once the tide washes the ice cover out to sea (salt water freezes below 32F) and 35F air temp. Just yesterday it was only 35F and I was on my 6M which means the gusts were 30 and higher and the windchill was in the 20s. And there were 10 of us out, 2 of us being women.

Some of you guys need to toughen up. :strong:

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Postby ikitecreep » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:00 pm

Holly is really part penguin

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