It’s a danger that kiting has evolved to where it has a dual nature.
One one side you see local (more or less) communities of riders who are aware of dangers in their spots, and usually include people with many years experience, who support each other and are conscious of risk, and are able and willing to rescue each other. This is how it is in most places that people kite, but these are not the places with the highest number of riders.
On the other side, places like obx, canaries, etc., 3/4 of the people you see kiting (and 90% at some times of year) are tourists, some are newbies, some are experts, many have most of their experience in places with kite shops, gear rental and rescue boats. In these cases, not all, but some riders just expect to be taken care of (they have paid for it!) and expect all other riders will be taken care of, too. They feel less responsibility, their $50 fee covers that, dude... they tune out and mow the lawn or practice tricks without much thought for their surroundings or others (unless someone is “in their way”). I have seen glimpses of this attitude in obx and some other spots in the world, but at most spots it’s not the rule.
I think it’s more of a problem, the more regulated and controlled, the more resort-like the destination, where people only expect to do certain things at certain spots, and don’t have the attitude if a sailor or surfer out in the ocean. This attitude and style are dangerous.
What is sad about Gunnar’s accident is that it seems there were at least 2 rescue services that could have seen him, and a bunch of kiters and probably instructors as well as people on the beach, and he got no reaction for a long, long time.
Assessing the description of the accident, it is likely that he was only unconscious or semiconscious for a few seconds to a minute. Often airway protection reflexes are preserved in brief unconsciousness/concussion scenarios, even when the victim cannot control their
body and remains totally amnesic or semiconscious. I am very thankful for this, having rescued someone from surf in this state.
Thanks Toby and Gunnar for sharing this story.
Please be careful out there and look out for each other!