Here's more good news! Stefan is still recovering from his surgery, but he was already fit enough to share his story:
I am the german kiter who smacked down at Wijk an Zee last tuesday.
Thank you for all your good wishes, they really helped me! I was really really lucky to survive this accident and thanks to the perfect chain of rescue and everybody that helped nothing worse happened!!!
I can give you some facts if you are interested:
I am kiting since 2000 and befor that I was windsurfing for 20 years. I would say that I am experienced in high wind and big wave conditions. I am married and have a little daugther - I would not say that I am an adrenalin junky and I am quite fit, aged 42.
Last Monday evening I met with two friends in Wijk an Zee to go out the next day. In the morning we went to the beach to have a look at the conditions. It was quite a big day, a little gusty and with slightly turning winddirections. Nothing to worry about, I just returned from 3 weeks kiting in Denmark with bigger days. In the morning I flew a 9m Waroo Pro, the wind picked up and we made a lunchbreak. In the afternoon I went out with a 7m Waroo. The wind was still picking up so at one point I stopped every "risky"actions and just rode between the really beautiful waves (no high jumps and stuff...) and enjoyed the scenery. Always looking if there are any other kites outside - and there were.
Than I wanted to finish kiting, went to the beach like 1000 times before, slowed down, stopped and my friend asked me if I wanted to land my kite - I said yes. He hurried up to put his windsurfboard away and than "it" happened.
This is how I remember it:
I was sitting with my butt in the sand, board in front of me, no speed, kite was 12 to 1 - a really safe position. Than I was dragged downwind what really surprised me. Here it starts to become little estimating - I think I was slightly lifted and pulled downwind, touched the ground, turned a little and made a steering mistake and messed it up. I believe I half looped the kite, was torn in the air and downwinds. I have a little film in my mind of the moment when I flew over the beach, head first. I was thinking "far too fast, far too high - BANG". I do not exactly know how often I hit the ground, I just remember one big bang and I was sure that this was it. Thanks to a lot of guys at the beach that really helped at that moment I am still here - once more thanks. The next 7 days where hell but I made it. Now my neck is Titanium enforced by two screws, it was a quite difficult surgery (Friday) and it was done in Muenster university hospitle by speciallist. I was really really very lucky to be still alive. From what I understood most of these injuries are deadly, the dens is just to high, right at the breathing centre.
Yesterday I was sent home. Unbelievable. Pure nightmare and pure happiness.
I am thinking about what happened and what went wrong since it happened. I talked to my two frinds who where there. Sure I messed it up and miss-steered the kit. But why was I dragged downwind and liffted the first time? Freakgust? Just bad luck? I don t know... Where the conditions above my skills? I not sure - if so I was very lucky a whole lot of times before where nothing happened in same situations.
What do I personally learn from this?
I don t know if I will ever kite again. I will never ever go out with a kite smaller than 9m. I will never ride a overpowered kite again. I will be much more aware of the danger of a kite (even in the zenit) at the beach.
I never thougt this could happen to me - unskilled beginners ok - but me? No way. And than it did. One second, that was it... I did not see the danger of the situation, it was just like always. No time to pull the safty at all and after the smackdown I couldn t.
Kiting is the best sport I know. But guys - it is not chess. Even if you are kiting for ten years and you think you have seen everything - be careful. I heard stuff like this hundrets of times and always thougt: Yeah sure - but I am a safe kiter - skilled and experienced and careful. Bullshit.
4 years ago I was kiting in Portugal, jumped, lost one foot out of the strap, kicked the board away like 1000 times before. When I hit the water the wind had pushed back my board which hit me at my head. I was very happy to make it back to the beach. The docs fixed it with 9 stiches, I looked like a zombie. Bad luck or good luck? We lost friends to windsurfing and a lot of friends had bad kite accidents. I don t want to sound like your mom and maybe I am still shocked and too old for this stuff but please promise me to f...ing take care!
Once more thank you to everybody who helped me and thought of me!