It's been an epic week on the Great Lakes in Ontario Canada with awesome winds and huge swells!
We've been lit up on 4m to 6m kites all over.
Been an awesome summer too with this being my first riding locally. I've really been missing out on great freshwater riding and an incredible crew of local riders.
Sadly, one of my new kiteboarding friends Yurii K was seriously injured last week. Reminded me of Kinsley Wong. Skilled rider not wearing a helmet hits his head on the rocks.
Details are a bit confused but I'll try to condense the story you can follow here
found on our local Canada kiteforum http://www.thechickenloop.com
So three of them were riding at Long Beach, Ontario
. This is on the north shore of Lake Erie just west of Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls.
Winds were reported by one of the guys as 15 knots as dark clouds possibly a building thunderstorm approached. The clouds appeared to turn away. Two guys were on the water and one on shore. Differing reports as to whether Yurii was launching or landing. Either way he was on the beach when the squall line hit.
Reports he got launched across the beach and hit the sand hard a few times, then the rocks and then ended up unconscious hanging five feet up a tree from his harness. Witnesses on the beach said he was grabbing for something on his waist (likely his quick release) as he got launched and bounced. One guy on the water said winds came up to 30 knots in 60 seconds and that he barely got rid of his kite after getting thrashed in the water. Said had the wind not switched to offshore that he'd have ended up in the trees too.
Anyways, Yurii is not a kook. Good solid rider. Quiet, soft spoken but really nice guy. Been kiting for maybe 4 years and windsurfing before that. A good ww kayaker also so I'd consider him a decent waterman. I know him to be a conservative guy with good skills and not a show off or daredevil at all. In fact, just a few weeks ago we were out and he thought the wind was a bit much for a 12m and he waited until it died off enough to ride. Here is a link tohis photoblog
of that day.. note the comments that he waited it out.
While I am surprised that he'd be going out, the fact remains he had his kite in the air when the squall line hit and others had already stopped flying earlier.
He suffered a severe head impact but no spinal damage. He was in a coma for several days and has recently been brought out of it to see what kind of brain damage he suffered. He is improving but the damage to the frontal lobe is physical and not insignificant.
I spoke with his sister and she appreciates the good wishes but he has so many friends here that she asks that nobody visit for at least a month.
I asked about if he was wearing a helmet. She said that she was surprised he wasn't as he wears one for every other activity!
I asked if a helmet would have made a difference.
I heard it in her voice as she came to grips with the reality of it. She said it would have made ALL the difference. It seems that a single blow to the head was from a sharp rock and in an area above his forehead that a helmet would have protected.
I know that Rick has been ragging on everyone to wear a helmet and has been a real hero (in my opinion) in his good fight. But frankly, I don't wear a helmet kiteboarding. I wear one skiing and snowboarding, riding a bike and rollerblading.. but the most extreme thing I do is kiteboard and I don't wear one! And I'm better at ALL those other sports!
WTF is with me?
What does it take to get this helmet message through our thin fragile skulls?
Does it take realizing my brilliant genius 30 year friend is now going to have to live with a brain injury for the rest of his life? That his young sister and loyal girlfriend now have their lives put on hold to make sure he gets the best care and rehab in the hospital? How can they afford to take a leave of absence from work and deplete their savings?
Am *I* willing to put my family through a lifetime of cutting my steak and wiping my @$$ because I do't feel like wearing a helmet in the water?
Or does it just take me seeing this happen to my new friend?