All 3 off us on 5th line kites and all different scenarios.
Of the three riders (all on C kites), I believe Jason was the only one with kite near the zenith when the squall gusts really pumped up. Paul and Ralph had their kites lower and activated their 5th lines. More about this at:
Jason and I were just kiting along in the same direction (just staying upwind) both kites at 1-2... O'clock. With only a sign of some rain about 5 to 10 miles away. The wind went from average 15 mph to 70mph or so... in about 5 seconds, and not forecasted or major shift in direction. Only enough time to pull safety, if you get to it.
I felt fairly calm being lofted and pulled my 5th safety used to jumping high, thinking, no I don't want to go up right now (dropped me down right away) Since I was just ahead of him I had hoped he would see that I pulled mine and then pull his, Jason locked up and didn't pull his unfortunalty. If I were on an SLE (fly them too) either front line or to full depower, I would not have been able to pull in my kite (in that wind) and would have been pulled into deeper water (maybe 20minutes, too late to save him). If I would have let my kite go it could have wrapped around him downwind of me.
So in this case, my 5th safety saved my life and allowed me to reel in my kite to make it to my zodiac to save him in 5 to 10min... The first thing I did when I found him, his kite low in the tree (not pulling much at the point) was to pull his 5th line safety. The article says he was on a 4 line kite, but it was a 5th line kite 12m... I was on an 11m 5th line. Also if he he had pulled his safety just before (water only impact what killed him, not drowning) his kite would have had less power and left him in deep water to die. So things just worked out in a way that I was able to revive him with CPR and now he is having a blast kiting again after rehab, see article. Strange mix, but his kite pulled him to shore leaving him in a good spot to be saved. So many other variable could have happened.
article says:A. Patterson, another kiter was mulling over whether to launch or not.
They could not ride from that area, there was no way to launch. That's why we were the only ones out. Nor could any other kiters get over there. We were the only ones with boats.
As some of you guys may know from your experiences. "You got be there" to know. I don't think anyone plan to kite in 70mph. But easy to decide not to go out if it picked up like nuts just before you set up.
Ralph only had his kite low since he was having other difficulties, before the major squall hit. Also on a 5th line safety, but couldn't release it... stuck... He had to pull chicken bone out the remove chicken loop to go to 5th, only coming to a stop when his kite hit the trees, even on 5th, it was pulling throough the water. If he had been kiting as we were... Safety stuck... Yikes! Some luck there... not planned...
To throw another thing in the mix. Jason would have hit feet first (boots pulled off) at high speed, then slamming body and face first in the water (helmet flying off). with impact direct to face (why his eye were in bad shape), his helmet would not help as much as it would from the back. Impact alone killing him... no breathing to suck in water. As I found him with no water in his lungs or a breath or pulse.
To kite that day, you needed a boat to get the that spot (few can do it). Great spot I have been to many times. Side to side onshore winds in a bay. If this were a regular SW day. there would have been up to a dozen or so guys out for sure... on the main beach, probably most would have been shocked by it and many hurt or killed. A regular SW day would leave guys in a larger open water area. From what I've learned be surprise that the weather can change once you get on the water, even after checking 5 different forcasts for the day. You won't be by your computer looking for updates and all you can do is go by what you see and if the signs aren't there, like you are used too, you can get hit bad. We kite in fronts here for wind mostly and fall is more unpredictable.
Just pulling a safety doesn't mean it's over. Better to think about what happens on your particular type of kite, scenario. Sure, maybe if you let your kite go, but then it may not be over for the guy downwind of you.
In my 25 combined years on the water in watersports. I've never been in anything like it. Like the pict shows. So never say never. It would almost be like saying you are a great car driver but will never get in an accident.
Some companies even say on their site that you can add a 5th line to SLE Bows...
The way I think of it. Were do you want someone to grab your kite on the beach when you are coming in overpowered? Right were a 5th line would go right? You can basically put a 5th line on almost any kite if we want, maybe use it on some days and other days not. Sure the 5th can cause other problems and make for a bad day, nothing is perfect out there... Hey, this is an Extreme Sport.