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Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

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juandesooka
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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby juandesooka » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:20 pm

I may be overly optimistic, but I believe that as individuals almost everyone would help if they knew someone was in trouble. But I can think of multiple reasons people might not help in a situation like this. I suspect the main reason is in these crowded spots there's some of that group dynamic thing going on: assume someone more qualified or experienced will help out, so you don't need to. This would be particularly true for visitors: feel unconfident in local knowledge, the guy down is local pro, surely one of the other local pros will take care of it, etc. Sometimes there's the fear of personal risk: if I just barely feel in control of my own kite/board in the circumstances, how am I going to help someone else?

But more specific here: from what you said you were fairly far out and a little off the main track. My guess is most people did not see you crash and once down you are pretty much invisible. Anyone who did see you either didn't understand the potential or probably assumed you would self-rescue (and the worst possibility: that "serves you right" mentality, as in "you got yourself into that spot, so you can have the long swim as a lesson", not realizing you are hurt).

This last one prompted some self-reflection by me and our crew in a local incident. Our spot often has sketchy winds, we regularly push it and downwind self-rescues are often the norm, sometimes more than once a session. It starts to get routine, especially with relatively new riders, to the point that no one bothers to check -- assume it's just another routine self rescue. Except when it isn't: buddy wrapped in his lines, getting dunked and half drowning. A tourist waded into the surf zone in our cold water to save him, meanwhile me and his buddies are standing around 500m upwind BS'ing. No one had any idea. The new personal rule: if less than 100% certainty, do not assume -- check and be sure. I don't want to face the fact of a friend or visitor dying while I could have helped. Complacency kills.

Another realization that came out of it: you can't do the universal help sign of waving your arms if your arms are wrapped or you are fighting to stay alive. And without that arm wave, a semi drowning from a distance looks the same as a normal self rescue. We had a group meeting to talk it out and implemented a safety protocol in our crew to carry marine safety whistles, wear it on a lanyard near neck level. If in trouble, clench it in your teeth and blow the crap out of it while using your arms to free yourself or otherwise save your life ... more chance of someone hearing it and alerting the crew. But that was 2-3 years ago, no incidents since, complacency set in, pretty sure no one wears them any more ... along with no helmets, impact vests, etc. Would be interesting to do a check one day of how many people at the beach have functioning line cutters. Safety preparedness seems lame and kooky 99.9% of the time, then that 1 in 1000 day you need it, it's not there.

So ... maybe you should host a locals safety meeting, to talk about your experience, hash out the "what if's", refresh the group's commitment to safety, and also emphasize personal responsibilities (safety preparedness, expectations when kiting solo). Hashing this out as a group may help. BBQ up some food and play a stoking video to add some fun, spoonful of sugar for the medicine. ;-)

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby BWD » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:23 pm

Toby wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:10 pm
but the tourists you mention are locals somewhere too, no?
Or do you mean the people who only kite when abroad?
Sure, everyone is from somewhere.
and nothing wrong with traveling or being a tourist, can be a lot of fun. I have been thankful to be able to travel relatively often.
What I was trying get at, is when everyone is a visitor, most of them do not know each other, or each others' abilities, who is with a school or rescue service, who might be on their own, who is new, etc.
So, for example, if you are used to riding at some home spot, and usually see 20 people kiting, and you know most, you have a sense of community and security.
Then if you go somewhere else, and see even more people out, you might expect or at least hope, that they will look out for you, and think you will look out for them.
But you don't know them. You might not know if they are mostly local to the spot or tourists themselves. You might still feel safe because there are a bunch of people in the area.
But if you don't know the area, and the people, is your feeling of security realistic? You don't really know if people will see and understand when you need help, or have the ability to help you.
No doubt, Gunnar is known to any locals on his island, and has helped, coached, rescued, and taught lots of tourists.
It's scary that he could have an accident and no one saw it or realized he needed help.
But this could happen to any of us, potentially, somewhere close to our home, or abroad.

Some people are clueless or act poorly in their home spots as well as other places. Most people try to be aware and good to each other.
The risk with tourism is not that tourists are jerks, it's that people get a little overloaded when traveling.
Going from winter to summer or 15 knots to 30 knots, having different culture, food, sun twice as bright, water colder or hotter, currents and waves different, time changes, all these factors affect travelers. This has an effect on how you process what is happening. Especially if you are having the first session for a long time, and the wind is strong and gusty.

When I travel far, I know to be extra cautious the first day, because I know I am not familiar with the spot yet, and maybe not at 100% energy or focus. Somewhere like fuerte, for example, half the people on the beach or water may have just flown down the day before from england or germany, if not from another continent. Maybe I'm exaggerating but i doubt it. Add to all that different levels of skill, attitudes, language barriers sometimes, and it's clear you just have to be careful at tourist spots, maybe even as careful as at deserted spots.

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby slowboat » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:13 pm

Very sobering video, thanks for posting. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

My personal rules for foiling safety:

1. helmet
2. Coast guard approved flotation (better survival odds if unconscious)
3. signaling device (whistle)
4. Safe backstop (I imagine myself down and only being able to drift. If it is not towards safety, I don't go out).
5. knife
6. eye protection

But I am just a middle aged geek. Imagine how much safer the sport would be if influential cool kids like Gunnar did the above?

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby jakemoore » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:34 pm

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusi ... onsibility

Glad you are well Gunner! It seems to me that regarding crowds friends and rescue we are in a delimma. If there are crowds then people are blinded by diffusion of responsibility. If nobody is around you are on your own anyway.

Not so long ago I flooded foil kite way outside. I rolled up to make sure all was secure before drifting through the break while sitting on my board. In spite of many kiters, it was a surfer who paddled out to say hi. At the time I was irritated by my situation and did not want to tangle him in the lines. I was probably nasty to the guy in trying to keep things clear. In retrospect I'm quite grateful for his concern after hearing your story.

Easiest thing to do in my opinion is to at least ride nearby if a kite is down so the kite is reassured. And remember the. First step in any CPR situation is to get help. That's something a person with very limited competence could do.

I think it goes without saying that performing CPR while flying a giant kite is not a reasonable expectation. However dragging the cadaver to shore should be in range for most of us if there is not a better option. So my thinking is the best bet is to keep an eye on your friends and get help.

I like slowboat 's safety rules. I might also reconsider my kooked out death shackle light wind bar with tiny rear lines.

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby edt » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:41 pm

Short version of this video, Gunnar was drowning for an hour and nobody even checked on him. What Gunnar learned: Kiters don't give a shit if you live or die. They will be boosting right next to your body and go back have a beer and tell everyone what a great sesh it was. Almost bummed out by the corpse in the water. Almost.

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby Flyfish » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:46 pm

.
Last edited by Flyfish on Thu May 17, 2018 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby Foil » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:03 pm

Bloody hell Gunner,
your story has made me so mad, how dare anyone turn a blind eye to your situation, I have been a waterman for 45 years and always rush to the side of fallen kiters, windsurfers, or anybody out on the sea,
over the years I have been involved in many rescues,without hesitation, without thought for my own safety (strange, but that only happens after the event)
no one should need to tell you thats what you should do, human instinct should compel you to do something,
every time, no matter what, you go over to check,
there was one situation where similar to your own experience but here in the uk I witnessed a fellow kite surfer flying backwards through the air upside down,impact then disappear, the water was not deep, and as I got near I released my kite completely, and pulled the guy to the surface, he was under the surface eyes wide open but out like a light. as a dead weight it was hard to keep him up with his head clear, during this time other kiters had not realised what had happened but were close and there just in case, one sailed in and grabbed someone on the beach to call for medical assistance, all ended well, but if we had ignored what had happened how would one live with that guilt.
Gunner-
you know that I remember a few weeks ago that yourself , yes you Gunner , sailed over to me to check if I was ok when I was splashing around not able to get that flipping odd foil board combination to lift out of the water on the foil, I was trying for ages just drifting, and you sailed right up and asked if I was ok,
exactly what I would do , exactly what any decent waterman would do, and should do, no matter what, even if it puts you at risk, the bottom line is we look after each other, every time, no excuses.
How dare these other people would pretend they did not see you.shame on them.
My other thoughts are not printable.

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby apollo4000 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:23 pm

slowboat wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:13 pm
Very sobering video, thanks for posting. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

My personal rules for foiling safety:

1. helmet
2. Coast guard approved flotation (better survival odds if unconscious)
3. signaling device (whistle)
4. Safe backstop (I imagine myself down and only being able to drift. If it is not towards safety, I don't go out).
5. knife
6. eye protection

But I am just a middle aged geek. Imagine how much safer the sport would be if influential cool kids like Gunnar did the above?
This is my view as well. Having done some diving in my time I take the same view in terms of safety gear and approach. Maybe Kitesurfing needs a BSAC or PADI level of training to incorporate similar levels of safety skills.

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby Laughingman » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:44 pm

Gunnar, awful that you had such a bad experience. I don't tell many people about my experience mostly because their eyes gloss over pretty quickly...
I was that guy that you wished was there that day I suppose. I was only kiting for a few years at the time, looking back I didn't know as much as I thought I did, I was kiting the sound on the Outer banks side shore maybe a little off... it was the first day so even the conditions were not great we all went out.. during my session I see a kite rolling way out at the horizon so I kite out toward it along the way I came across the owner of it... some one I knew, so I ask if he is okay, he can stand so all good.
We decide that I will go and grab his kite and then he can come to me and take it. Of course when I go to grab the kite I sink and suddenly realize I am in over my head, and I get a bit tangled in the lines, I lost control of my kite and was pulled up and away and crashed hard... I had the wind knocked out of me but I was conscious and I was able to recover, at this point I need to get my kite to relaunch and damn I swear something was holding it on the water cause I could not relaunch it for soooo long, I was getting scared cause I was already out of breath from the crash, in over my head no flotation etc....
anyhow I eventually get my kite to relaunch, and start looking for my board, which I never did find. By now I had lost visual of the other kite, and the guy who lost it. My kite was flying but I was exhausted and feared I couldn't make it in... I made the hard decision to abandon the rescue, body dragged into shore as fast as I could. So i could get help... I made it into shore about 3-5 kms from where we launched, I packed up my shit and started walking down NC-12 to get back and get the more experienced kiters to help... I was intercepted by Terrie (jellyfish) he was going to get the rescue to look for the guy I left out there... I don't even think they knew I was missing till they saw me on the side of the road. I was just about to get into this young ladies car who had offered to drive me.
In the end everyone was brought back to shore safely, the kite that got lost was recovered and my wife (who was reading a book at the launch(this is before she started kiting)) was wondering why I didn't have a board... It took sometime before our own group of people realized one of us was missing, let alone two of us.
The lesson I learned that day. Yes absolutely go out and check on someone if you see they may be in distress, but unless you are confident in how to rescue a kite or board or person, go get help.
The other thing I learned is to never expect to be spotted by other kiters if you are down or even your wife who may be on shore watching (reading a book). The water is a big place and even from just a few 100m you can easily be hard to spot unless someone is looking specifically for you and even harder to spot with a water logged bed sheet.

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Re: Important Message: I almost died - Gunnar Biniasch

Postby edt » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:54 pm

"Yes absolutely go out and check on someone if you see they may be in distress, but unless you are confident in how to rescue a kite or board or person, go get help."

Such good advice. Don't be ashamed that you can't do the rescue solo. Get help.


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