Kitemanmuc wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:47 am
I am working on a campaign at the moment that tells the story of kiteboarding in a positive light.
All to often are we cast as the outlaws on the beach, crashing kites and scaring beach-goers. Little is said about the lives that kiteboarders have saved over the years. We love when the wind picks up and these conditions can be dangerous for swimmers or paddlers and also hard for lifeguards to face.
Anyone in here with a short story about how they have saved or helped save lived while kiteboarding would really be appreciated!
First off, this isn't a swimmer rescue, but a windsurfer rescue. This has to be 5 or 6 years ago... Virginia Key, FL in Miami (the launched was banned to kiting about 10 years ago). There is a cut just south of the launch and when the tide is outgoing and the wind is easterly it makes a small wave setup at a sandbar about 1/2 mile directly out from shore. I launch to the south (Crandon Park) and grind upwind about 1.5 miles to ride in this spot. The windsurfers still have access at Virginia Key.
I don't even know the person's name that I rescued, but here is the story. It was a "cold" winter day in Miami with strong easterly frontal winds and I grinded upwind in 20+ knots from the south and just as I arrived to the wave line in the middle of the cut, I notice a guy swimming in the surf just near a windsurfing board and separated rig - it's a good 3/4 of a mile from land. I approached him and asked if I could help and he waved me off. He told me he was going to try to rescue his rig, which I knew was going to be impossible. So, I stayed close and really didn't get much "kiting" in while I kept an eye on him.
The current was moving fast enough that this guy couldn't stay inside the waves paddling his windsurfing board even though the wind was at his back. He finally gave up his rig as the mast filled with water and it eventually sunk (say 15 minutes). He would paddle, paddle, paddle the board, then give up, drift back into the waves, catch a small one or get tumbled and start all over again. He refused my help twice, but I stayed nearby. Finally, I could see he was giving up. I insisted to drag him to the beach; he was totally done. It took 45 minutes to pull him to shallow water while he was laying on his windsurf board as I pulled him by my leash (which several times he let go and the clip end smacked and bruised me up good). I wasn't sure if he would be able to hold on, but he did. I couldn't get him to hold on and try planing when I first started the rescue, so I had to ditch my surfboard to do this and body drag the entire distance. Once I got him to the shallow water where he could stand, he looked at me and told me I saved his life. Nobody at the beach knew this person and to my knowledge he never came back. I immediately went downwind, landed the kite and went home exhausted. He had broken his tendon joint on the mast base in the rough conditions. From the looks of the gear when I arrived on the scene, the gear looked like it sat a lot in a garage and maybe gets one or two uses a season.
For anyone that windsurfs, spend the $100 annually and buy a new powerbase. I have helped 2 other windsurfers in the same area get rescued. For one of the rescues, I raced over to a jet ski and insisted that they come grab the guy, who had lost his board and was floating only with his rig. I dragged his rig to the beach by my leash (great workout by the way - I had to immediate exit the water and go home to recuperate on the couch). In the latest instance (last winter), I helped get a rescue from the lifeguard jetski after a guy windsurfing also separated his board and rig. The powerbase also broke. After ditching his board on the beach, he convinced the lifeguard jetski to take him back out to the surf and I located his rig and helped them also rescue that.
I've definitely put in my community service time at Virginia Key and it totally sucks that we are banned to kite there. As a matter of fact, the person that got the spot banned was a firefighter from Delray Beach, FL. So a visitor screwed us over in Miami - what a shame.