Some ideas on one possible approach to setup, launching and landing of inflatable kites follows. This approach may work at some types of launches and not as well at others. Also, there are many other approaches to these procedures. The methods are derived in part from KSI accident/incident analysis and are intended to try to improve safety.
Even if these methods are followed, accidents and injury can still happen in this extreme sport. This is presented to stimulate discussion and to try to improve kiteboarding safety. This document will be presented in sections, starting with the first of twelve photos, to allow for input and discussion. The document will eventually be assembled into a pdf file and placed online for reference.
PHOTO 1 - LAUNCH SELECTION
Ideally, a good launch should be relatively level, wide, smooth and free of obstructions and bystanders within 200 ft. downwind. A sandy beach free of rocks is best. If you must launch from a rock cobble beach it may be necessary to use a rug or other protective layer and sand bags or water bottle weights to set your kite up on for assisted launch and landing. Avoiding dragging on rock cobble beaches is essential to avoid injury. Sand is more forgiving of this of course. It would be good not to have areas that could cause uplift lofting, i.e. bluffs, walls or buildings within that range either. An absence of powerlines and roadways for several hundred feet downwind would also be ideal to avoid possible power outages and interaction with runaway kites. Again, these are ideals intended to reduce the occurrance of accidents and incidents that have already happened in some areas.
Onshore winds should be avoided by all riders and particularly by new riders. Offshore winds are often uneven given land wind shear effects and are best avoided by all riders without a chase boat. Side shore to side onshore winds are optimal.
Selecting an area with relatively wide sandy shallows and an absence of abundant boat traffic is best. If there are rocks or other sharp objects on the bottom use of boots is indicated. If the bottom consists of soft organic soil or marl or slippery clay, due care should be exercised to avoid accidents with a powered up kite while walking.
Some riders will have few choices in terms of launch selection and some may differ widely from the ideal described above. Different procedures and precautions may be indicated in such areas.
PHOTO 2 - SETUP (a)
Place the kite near the water.** Excavate a trench equal to the length of the wing tip folded over at the first inflatated batten. It should be about 4 to 5 inches deep. The leading edge of the kite should be facing towards the wind but drapped off downwind to avoid premature lifting of the kite.
** Some instructors teach students to setup their kites upland and away from the water. This is done with the reasoning that if the lines are incorrectly attached the kite will fire up and across the wind window at high speed dragging the rider towards the water. I setup near the water in order to potentially be dragged into the water if hit by a sudden gust. Ideally with care and methodical preflighting, kiteboarders have control over making sure their lines are correctly attached. They have not control over sudden gusts. The rider needs to decide for himself which approach he prefers.
PHOTO 3 - SETUP (b)
Place the folded wing into the trench and apply an adequate amount of sand ballast for the wind conditions based on past experience and judgment. An alternative to this is to use sand filled bags for ballasting. Some popular launches have these lying around the launching area for use.
PHOTO 4 - SETUP (c)
The anchored kite should be almost parallel to the wind to avoid premature lifting. The kite battens are then inflated at this point followed by the leading edge. By anchoring the kite in this fashion it is setup for solo launch or secured pending setup and assisted launch which is safer and less prone to wear and tear on the kite than solo launch. In the case of solo launch it will be necessary to slightly move the unanchored tail of the kite slightly to windward based to assure a smooth launch.
Copyright 2002 FKA, Inc.
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: RickI on 2002-11-07 15:23 ]</font>