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Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:05 pm
by lbatbeach
Last week I got worked by a large split peak wave. By large I am talking double overhead plus. I chicken jybed and was trying to out run it when the 2 peaks merged, pitched and ate me for lunch. Before I could get to the surface (and get a breath), my kite, which I crashed, got nailed by the white water and drug me for what felt like another eternity. If you have never had this experience, its like being tied to the bumper of a truck, while underwater. The whole event probably took 15 or 20 seconds, but it felt like forever.

If I had been able to keep my kite in the air, I would have at least avoided the 50 to 60 foot underwater waterboarding adventure. Plus my kite would have stayed in one piece. So I am curious, for those who kite waves of consequence, what do you do when you get worked to keep your kite flying? One of my local crew says he sheets in with both hands to try to keep lines tensioned, and then tries to steer back and forth to avoid oversheeting on one side and driving the kite to the water. I thought this sounded pretty good but not easy when getting rolled upside down. But at least he has a plan. What do you do?

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:32 pm
by nikalaitzian
Almost drowned last year by an overhead fast wave :cry: throwed me in my lines since i was unexperienced.Before 3 weeks i "smelled" the same trick quickly and downlooped the kite.I think that the safer way is to kite without a leash and immiediate release the kite so you can fight the monster :-?
specialy when its on shore wind..

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:56 pm
by plummet
hmmm... i don't think theres an easy answer. I sometimes hold the bar and attempt to fly the kite. but thats if i'm not getting washing machined too bad. Other times I loop the kite to keep it in the air. That also has an effect of pulling you out of the white wash too sometimes.
If the kite hits the deck and its going to get trashed i punch to the safety. then if its really bad I release completely if i think swiming in will be safer than getting dragged by the kite.

From your discription I would have punched on completly and swam in.

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:58 pm
by plummet
ps. Last time i punched out completly i found myself in a rip!... doh. that was a hard swim back to the shore and obviously the wrong decision.

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:05 pm
by longwhitecloud
1. Judge waves carefully, be familiar with what is going on where u are riding, watch peaks for a while before you go out to a new spot.

2. I completely abandon my surfboard and superman jump over the wave if i think i dont have enough speed to make drop /wrong place wrong time etc.., doing similar to your experience told me this is best in some situations, just get board later..

3. if pitched or being driven downwind very fast by closeout - i will steer hard - keep kite low or kiteloop it as soon as possible (lightning reaction kiteloop has got me out of deep shit) - any thing to keep line tension.. - i dont use a leash unless i am riding heavy offshore reefs, then you know you have to be super careful in judging so you never have to to the looping thing that could get a hole in your head.

i think the most dangerous conditions for kiting are huge waves and light onshore wind - a sure way to end up in your lines - that is if you manage to make it out... wave speed if often faster than windspeed - well where i live anyway waves come out of very deep water.

I been pitched in 6-8ft (2-3 overhead) and wrapped in my lines - i had to race to get em off my neck and legs while there was some slack underwater cos my downed kite was about to get hit by 6ft of white water and it did - got some nice line bruises on my legs /wrenched hard underwater from lines - kite dragging me with closeout from wave in front. Eventually i got rid of my kite -board gone and spent 10 mins in impact zone with my friend watching me get drilled - real fun, then he towed my 1km back to shore - thanks chris - legend!

Another thing worth mentioning is a wetsuit - always tempting to go in boardies on big swell sunny day but even a shortie gives you some worthwhile buoyancy to chill out- especially if you are dealing with some nasty rips.

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:47 pm
by naishdude
Want your opinion on the following...
I changed my leash attachment from the back (rope/line) towards the front of my trapeze, this way when l get dragged under by a wave, l do not turn on my back or side, this way l stay on my frontside, which gives you more controle under water, and you can reach in an easy way your final release.
Dude 8)

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:51 pm
by Dimitri M
It happens to all of us.

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:55 pm
by lbatbeach
Naishdude, that is a very good idea when riding big surf. I have been drug by my leash upside down and it is not fun.

I had not thought about looping the kite. That sounds like a winner as you will be sure to keep tension on the lines and pull you out of trouble quickly.

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:10 am
by Dimitri M
Hello lbatbeach,
When you get eaten by any wave especially a big one the best thing while you are under the water is to try to keep your kite in the air and put tension to the lines so the kite can pull you back up out of the foam so you can breath. Also make sure that the lines don't wrap around your leg, neck, hands and other parts of your body. This is why you need to move the kite while under the water. But also it is nice to have a kite that has a little of bar pressure then no bar pressure so you know with out looking at it where the kite is. So "KITE LOOPING" the kite is the best way to go in order to keep tension on the kite lines and know where the kite is.

Re: Getting worked in big surf.....

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:24 am
by TheJoe
Know your limits. Been there done that just not in double overhead, just single overhead for me. I don't get to kite good waves much so I know chest to shoulder high is my limit.

I have talked to some that said when it gets big they don't use a leash. Put to me as there is no reason to take a chance at getting a line wrapped around anything. Remember the truck feeling when a wave caught the kite? Imagine the force with a line wrapped around your arm. Good by arm!

I just side on the caution side of things when it comes to wave and choose my conditions to well with in my skill level.