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 Post subject: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep water
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:54 am 
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Let me first preface this by saying that while I have been kiting for 5 years and consider myself intermediate, I have never done a drift launch or any sort of launch not on solid ground, I have been fortunate enough to always live near sandy beaches. I may not even fully understand the proper definition of a drift launch vs other types of water launches, so I will try to explain exactly what I am referring to. I am also not an instructor and do not know what proper instruction protocols are. I do however, have an idea somewhere in the back of my head that drift launches are an advanced move and not without unique risks, and I would not attempt one without first seeking instruction and having some support nearby (and I'd want to try it in shallow flat water, light winds, the first time).

A good friend recently went for his first lesson with a company local to him. It took place at a beach site, where the instructor launched the kite on the beach, and then transferred the hook to the student's harness once in shallow water a safe distance from the shore (sounds like the right way to get a student's kite in the air, same thing happened with my first lesson long ago). The student did some body dragging for just under an hour, but the lesson was cut short by wind. A week later, the student went back for a followup lesson. The instructor this time opted to take him into deep choppy water (via jet-ski) and relatively high wind (the student reported feeling overpowered on a 7m, but admittedly a student has no frame of reference for that claim). The student had an extremely scary stituation in deep water while attempting to launch the kite with the instructor nearby, which was relayed to me (by the student) as follows:

The jet-ski stopped, and the instructor had the student get off and hook into the harness. While the student floated and attempted to unwrap the lines (again, already hooked in!), the instructor stayed on the jet-ski and took the kite downwind and pumped it up, instructing the student how to keep unwrapping the lines. Once the kite was inflated, the lines started pulling tight (no surprise there!), but the student had not quite fully completed unwrapping the lines from the bar yet! Before the student could finish unwrapping and even attempt to launch, the kite powered up and lofted him out of the water. From his description to me (which he reports was the instructor's description to him after the fact), the slack lines had developed a tension knot causing the kite to be permanently powered up (and also inverted)... it happened fast enough that he did not know what happened. He was lofted 3 times repeatedly and slammed each time into the water hard enough that he thought he would black out. After the third time he had the presence of mind to punch out, and it did depower the kite.

To me, in my inexperience, it seems incredibly wrong and dangerous to have the student launching like this in these conditions. I know that in a self rescue once, in very light winds where my lines went slack before I punched out, I managed to get a tension knot around my quick release rendering it useless. In this situation I was in shallow water, light winds, and near shore, so I was still able to bring the kite in by one line, but I made a mental note in the future: slack lines are to be feared, if they can cause a QR to lock up. And in this case with my friend, the slack lines are exactly what caused his kitemare. Again, he WAS smart enough to punch out (thank god), but what if his QR had been tangled up too? (or worse, a hand or foot?) I have no idea how dramatic this situation actually played out since I was not there, but I wonder if the instructor is able to chase the student in a situation like that and intervene, if either (a) the QR is fouled or (b) the student is not smart enough to QR. As worst case scenarios play out in my mind, I wonder if drowning is a real concern there? Did my friend almost drown? (hard to say without seeing how fast he was really moving, again he has no frame of reference) The student reported to me that the instructor looked terrified when he finally got his hands back on the student.

To me, it sounds like the instructor was having the student do his first ever self launch as a drift launch. The student says he did not realize this was a big deal and was not given any specific instruction on how to do the launch, other than the instructor shouting at him from the jet-ski to keep unwrapping the line as he pumped the kite. Again, this just sounds wrong on many levels to me. Wouldn't it be much, much better for the instructor to drift launch himself (as he launched himself at the beach), and then transfer the flying kite to the student?

What do other experienced instructors think?


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:11 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:49 am
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Location: Japan
My first lesson was in deep water... but the instructor flew the kite out, him sitting in the back of a small zodiac. So I think that's a good idea but...

... making a beginner drift launch? Dumb :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:44 pm 
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Location: Mauritius, waterman since 1960
We do all our teaching in deep water, and its no probs at all.
However I would never give a student a coiled up bar to undo in the water, this is an obvious shortcut to disaster.
This exercise is trickey for an expert already.
Nico


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:36 pm 
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Here is a different way to tackle the problem of getting the student out to a safe distance from land with the ski.

Have the instructor get the kite airborne on the beach. While the instructor flies the kite he could sit on the back of the ski while the student drives the ski slowly out to the practice area. The instructor could sit with his back to driver so his bar/lines and harness are in the clear. Once they are out the instructor then passes the kite over to the student.

If a drift launch is the only option the instructor should be the one swimming out the lines while the student inflates the kite. The ski and kite are going to drift downwind much quicker than the swimmer. An anchor should be tossed to keep the ski from going down wind.


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:48 pm 
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Location: Como Lake - Italy
Where I live (Como lake: no beach , we must launch standing in the water while an assistant is keeping the kite on a small wall) drift launch is the only option for a beginner. The manouver is anyway very simple and safe. There are TWO people on a Zodiac, the instructor and ad assistant. The beginner hooks in, jumps in the water and slowly swims back while the instructor unwraps the lines from a wooden "bone" (lines are NOT wrapped on the bar, the beginner is not unwrapping the lines by himself, the Zodiac is not moving). Once the lines are unwrapped, the instructor pumps up the kite, check that the lines are ok and then tell the assistant to start the Zodiac. The Zodiac moves to one side of the wind window while the instructor is keeping the kite. Once in the right position, the instructor launch the kite together with the beginner (who has been already instructed on the beach). If the kite falls, the instructor moves with the Zodiac and helps the beginner to launch again.
There are instructors who can launch while they drive the Zodiac, no need for an assistant. Any of the several schools on the lake use this procedure and nobody ever had problems.


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:47 pm 
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Crazy and dangerous !


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:53 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:52 am
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Location: Tennessee
I kite in a lake as well, and do all deep water drift launches. I have been experimenting with several ways to run the kite lines out and get the kite in the water. This weekend I actually tried swimming a bar with my lines coiled on it out from the boat, and although I got it done, I have to say that it really sucked. It takes a lot of effort to keep the bar oriented to keep from getting twists, and the lines in the water tend to get all over you as it is difficult to unwind the bar and keep even tension on the lines. I would say that this is the least desireable method to use.

If you have a correctly wound bar, it is easier to inflate the kite, connect the lines, and float the kite downwind unwinding the bar from the boat or ski. This is dangerous too as the kite can launch while you still have the lines wound. If you wind the bar asymetrically (one side shorter than the other) the kite drifts downwind sideways and is less likely to launch. This is still not my favorite method, but it works fine in light wind.

To avoid snags on the bar, I coil my lines in a 5 gallon bucket which allows me to feed the kite or the bar out with less snag hazards. Then you can float the kite out or swim the bar out with much less effort.

Regardless of how you get the lines rigged, the key to safety is keeping the kite down until the lines are out and straight. You can do this by keeping the kite tied to the boat or ski until the lines are swam out, our you can have someone swim the kite out holding the leading edge on the water.

Unwinding the bar in the water is a terrible idea for a beginner regardless of the kite, and even worse if the kite is allowed to fly. I am glad that story didn't end with worse results.


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:00 pm 
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For the drift launch, I don't think that is a bad thing for a beginner once they know the basics of flying the kite. Drift launch, right into body drag, and then upwind drags seems like a great progression for a beginner and good skills for someone to have before they even touch a board. This assumes that you have a boat or ski to recover them, and someone who knows how to recover a kiter in the water.


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:43 pm 
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Nico wrote:
We do all our teaching in deep water, and its no probs at all.
However I would never give a student a coiled up bar to undo in the water, this is an obvious shortcut to disaster.
This exercise is trickey for an expert already.
Nico

How then do you get the kite in the air, specifically? Assuming beach launch or 2 instructors + boat is not an option. What is the standard way for a deep water launch with 1 instructor, 1 student, and 1 jet-ski?


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 Post subject: Re: Q for instructors: students drift launching in deep wate
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:44 pm
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Location: New Zealand - owner of HellBoardriders.com
This is an awesome topic.
I have been teaching Kiteboarding in New Zealand since 99-2000 and started on lakes then moved closer to the population and better beaches.

It's a bugger on lakes that those dam trees can grow right up to the waters edge.
I tried a drift launch the other day just to try it as my beach was a waist deep estuary, my first time ever with this method.
I could touch the bottom and with 25 knots it went ugly real fast.
Bailed and sent kite off to the trees where is settled :D my mates had a good laugh.

I'd love to see footage of kite schools teaching in deep water and what their process is.
Anyone have links?
It's an interesting idea for sure but not one I have seen here in NZ.
We have so many beaches. But we have boats too so would be good to have more options up my sleeve.

How many students per instructor do you use when teaching from boats or Ski?


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