I just heard about a second serious accident that happened in onshore winds last weekend. First, there was Peter Nordby's tragic accident in strong gusting onshore winds. The second accident happened in Florida. It involved a new kiter, apparently with no previous instruction out in light 12 kt. onshore winds with a 12 m kite for the fourth time.
The kiteboarder apparenly lost control of his kite, over-compensated and looped the kite. He was hurled/dragged over a rock jetty and into a van, he looped the kite again and was dragged into a car and subsequently into a third vehicle. He was hooked in and couldn't unhook. He was not wearing a helmet or impact vest. He amazingly enough didn't lose consciousness or suffer head injury by pure luck. I am not sure what other injuries he came away with however. He was removed by ambulance and his current condition is unknown but inquiries are underway. Severe damage resulted to at least two of the vehicles.
Lots of problems here.
1. Riding in onshore conditions and upwind of hard objects.
2. Didn't take any lessons.
3. Flying way too large a kite to safely learn with. When you are learning small is the way to go.
4. Wasn't wearing any safety gear.
5. Was hooked in and not using a QR.
There are lots more things to question about this needless, avoidable accident. This is a potentially DANGEROUS, EXTREME SPORT. It can be SO EASY, very much like flying a big toy kite until something goes wrong. Then it can become as technical and experience demanding as flying in severe weather. I hope the quantity of these accidents starts to ebb soon, until then we really need to get involved online and at our local launches. If you see someone that needs advice try to pitch in as tactfully and effectively as you can.
I personally prefer onshore winds, side-on are better but on shore its ok too. Offshore means that if the wind drops too much u cant reach the beach anymore, and u have a problem! put kite on the water, pull one of the cables and swim with it to the beach. argh.
Just dont kite near rocks or something where u cant take serious injury.
Personal preferences aside, statistically there is a much greater chance of injury while kiteboarding in onshore winds. Checkout the KSI, there are lots of accidents to back this up. This includes not only rank newbies like the Florida rider but also very experienced and competent advanced riders like Peter.
It is all about risk and how much you want to take on. Once you know about the risk of course, which is why we are talking. I would not minimize the hazards of riding in onshore winds in any case. Experience has shown too much to the contrary for many riders.
Choose your risks well, like it or not, there is a lot riding on your descision.
I think the key rule here is not to kite upwind of objects. When the winds onshore, you have the whole beach downwind to hit. If the beach isn't too big, or there are objects on the beach this can be dangerous. But in our local spot, onshore to cross-onshore is always the most predicable and stable wind. Anything slightly offshore is dangerous where I am because the wind can gust dramatically and drag you out of control. I think the single most important thing in kiteboarding is to pick your beach and conditions carefully. If you have a big wide beach with no objects, no people and steady cross shore wind - there is little can can go wrong... Choosing the right location is even more important than safety gear in my opionion because it negates the need for safety gear to be used. I often kite in a small harbour with a pier on one side and a small clump of rock on the beach. This is not a great spot safety wise, so I am very careful here. The big challenge is to find uncrowded beaches that are open and safe.
Trikke, I know where cogoleto is, I lived in Arenzano. You must be kidding me if you think that 1) is not a problem. Get your head checked man its the FIRST rule of kiting. objects downwind of you are lethal.
imagine riding in onshore 20 nodi in cogoleto or arenzano varazze etc and crashing into the wall on the beach. Sorry dude. i think you are wrong.
Yeah I think riding with wind straight on-shore is pretty doggy too, it takes a while to get far enough from the beach to be safe and while you're riding upwind you're basically just coasting pretty much parallel to the beach. If it's a big beach less of a prob, even though if you do get launched you could eat some sand or maybe hit someone on the beach, if there's solid obsacles the first place you're going to go if something happens is towards them fast.
Reliable safety releases are very important. Among snap shackles, the higher end Wichard and Tylaska models may among the most reliable. The new QR may provide an even more reliable and loss costly option to snap shackles. Reports are still coming in on this but for now QRs are looking good.
Having a good snap shackle or QR may not be good enough to save you from a nasty impact if things go wrong. In many launch or nearshore accidents, things happen at such incredible speed as to eliminate the possibility of effective reaction. The KSI is full of such experiences. Having the type of accident that allows time for rapid analysis and appropriate reaction seems to be a bit less common.
The key then is AVOIDANCE. Do not place yourself into such situations as you may not have time to avoid a bad experience. Properly preflight your gear, avoid onshore winds (statistically more accidents happen regardless of skill), don't launch upwind within 200 ft. or more of of hard objects and lots of other ideas included in the Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines.
Just like car racing, you can do it on a track and be reasonably assured on managing your problems. Alternatively, you can race down residential streets. It's fun, easy and readily accessible. It is also likely to end in grief as has happened hundreds of times in the past. It is all about choices and the kind of consequences you are willing to potentially allow to happen.