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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2002 5:24 am 
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The Kitesurfing Accident and Incident Database has been updated to include many new accidents, unfortunately. Most of these recent accounts are from the Southern Hemisphere where they are enjoying summer winds currently. Also, several of the older accounts have been updated with newly acquired information or new perspectives on causes and means of trying to avoid some the accidents.

A disturbing tend is developing around the world, involving increasing cases of lofting or involuntary lifting of kitesurfers into hard to very hard impacts. The database is full of lofting incidents, I have recently heard about several more, so soon there will be lofting accounts included in the database.

Why is this? Simple, kites are designed to lift, which they do very well if hit by a gust. So, if you are aiming the kite up or near neutral, that is exactly where you will go if the wind speed jumps up. If you fly your kite near neutral it is relatively safe to say it is not a matter whether you will be lofted BUT WHEN and to wonder how bad your impact and injuries will be! The sad part about all this is MANY LOFTING ACCIDENTS ARE AVOIDABLE IF RIDERS USE PROPER TECHNIQUE!!! To checkout the accident database and to read more about lofting checkout:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/files/

under: Kitesurfing Accident Database

Thanks,
Rick Iossi


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2002 3:52 am 
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what do you mean by proper technique? as in proper kite selection for the wind?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2002 6:25 am 
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Proper techniques means much more than kite size selection. It involves how you handle the kite, avoiding squalls (many of the lofting incidents have been directly caused by sudden storm winds), rehearsing how and when to release your depowering kite release and a great deal more. This kites can be dangerous, riders are proving that more and more. Generally the accidents are avoidable to some degree or another. Please carefully review the document:

How to try to avoid lofting October 17, 2001.doc

It doesn't give the whole story as that is still being discovered but it does cover some of the more obvious ways of getting into trouble.

Rick Iossi


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2002 11:50 am 
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Hi Rick,
in FL it is the same like anywhere else, when a storm comes, dark clouds show up?
This is what we have to understand, that if a dark cloud comes, we have to go off the water. Knowadays we do it more and more, since we all made our experiences.
And even, if we are still on the water, we make sure it is no onshore wind and we are far away from land so we could edge out gusts.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2002 1:33 pm 
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Toby,

You are so right, squalls do seem to come on in a similar way around the world. In some cases perhaps a bit faster and sometimes more violent but still we all have them. We have them a lot in Florida from the late Spring through late fall, often almost every afternoon. You can checkout the internet wind records and it will be 10 to 15 mph with a nice 45 mph plus spike right in the middle of it. With the size of many four line kites these days, dealing with a gust even into the mid 30 mph range could be very bad if your kite is near neutral. If is isn't near neutral you may still be dragged very powerfully at high speed. You may or may not react quickly enough. It really is best never to even put your self in that situation. Squalls coming, come in, well before the squall as the wind change can be very sudden and to some degree not readilly predictable.

The astonishing thing is how many kitesurfers don't know how easily they can be picked up and flown at high speed to ??? by a gust IF their kite is near neutral. Don't find out the hard way!

Rick Iossi


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2002 12:53 pm 
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so important!

unsure winds - like on cloudy-rainy days -

are dangerous.
always take a peek over your shoulder and watch for darker clouds, ride in sideshore conditions - edge hard and keep the kite low.


if you just got water downwind, that's all you can hit!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2002 9:46 pm 
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I wanted to repost something from another forum (iwindsurf), on this subject:

Sylvia,

You experienced what appears to be the most common cause of lofting, wind gusts. I have heard of only one thermal lofting incident, Eric’s in Oahu, although there may be other incidents. I think that there is a potential for many more thermal lofting incidents to occur considering how common and powerful thermals can be.

As to gust induced lofting, there are entirely too many and more on the way, unfortunately. I can appreciate your comment about very rare gusts at Alameda. In Florida such gusts are also somewhat rare but do occur throughout the year. In Maui these sort of gusts are common. As a result most Maui kitesurfers practice anti-lofting techniques routinely, because the have to, routinely. In Florida and it sounds like in Alameda, these more rare gusts allow for more complacent kitesurfing techniques with only occasional severe lessons.

If I understand your account correctly, your kite was in neutral or near the zenith when the gust hit? If so, that is a bad place for it to be at ANY TIME but especially during a gust. Kites lift very effectively, if you point your kite up and a strong gust hits, that is where you will go. If your kite is kept near the horizon, you may be violently dragged which can still seriously injure you. At least once and if you depower your kite, you will be on the ground and not having to deal with the second part of a lofting experience, slamming to earth. It was great that you were able to place the kite near the horizontal and arrest the power a bit. I also applaud your grabbing the safety release leash to avoid a possible failure of the connection to your wrist or harness. It sounds like you avoided a very nasty situation by a quick reaction. Is this sport great or what!!! It is important to note though, THE MAIN WAY TO AVOID LOFTING IS NEVER HAVE YOUR KITE AT NEUTRAL while on shore or near hard objects.

A major goal is to first avoid gusty, squally weather. If one hits anyway, mentally rehearse very carefully frequently what you will do. Using both a properly rigged center pivot snapshackle and chicken loop safety release may improve the odds of your coming out of the lofting incident intact. Unfortunately, several kitesurfers, including myself, HAVE NOT been able to unhook the chicken loop during lofting. Also, the mere act of sheeting in to permit unhooking powers the kite up more. Using mechanical releases present a more reliable way of separating from the kite than manual unhooking.

Congratulations on coming through a potentially very bad experience in one piece. I agree with all your tactics, except placing your kite at neutral. Until more kiters avoid doing this there will likely be many more unfortunate, avoidable lofting incidents.

Rick Iossi

Hi Rick,

Just want to add something. I think it is important to distinguish lofting/lifting induced by thermal bubbles from being lifted by surprisingly appearing strong "regular" wind. How to be prepared and react correctly is probably different. Please correct if I am wrong....here is the story:

It recently happened that I was out kiting on a 140 Slingshot fuel in 10-15 miles/hour wind and literally within 2 minutes the wind increased to 30 miles/h and another two minutes later to 40 m/h. This happened in Alameda, a low wind spot where these strong winds "never" happen. Mother nature is full with surprises.
However - in that situation I probably did the only right thing when the wind started lifting/lofting me (I am a 140 pound girl with medium-weak muscles and endurance). And this was 1. )keeping the kite in neutral (!) (the depower strap slipped when I tried to pull it down because of the wind- forces and powered the kite up to the full powered position...ack...)...and 2.) then moving it (waterwards!) in a smooth, fast movement to the edge of the window and in this only moment of relatively "low pull" and having the angle of the harness hook/chicken loop right to unhook and let go of the bar, 3.)grabbing quickly, before the full pull hits, the end of the safety leash with both hands to avoid shoulder dislocation . A key step was certainly to keep the kite in neutral to gain "maximum" control over the direction to where to move the kite. And to visualize mentally steps 2 and 3 before doing them. So - that is very different from thermally induced lifts. Because these move straight vertical. Does that sound correct? Because it was straight wind I was lifted out of the water just a few feet high but blown very fast downwind.

It was still difficult to get back to shore with that big depowered flapping kite in 40 m/h and a board which was flying out of the water and behaving like a kite :wink: too. Was kinda of interesting...

cheers - Sylvia


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2002 11:11 pm 
It would help me better understand if someone could clarify what we mean by NEUTRAL here:

1) bar and chicken loop hooked in (neutral?)
2) bar only hooked in (fully powered)
3) chicken loop only hooked in (fully depowered)
4) nothing hooked in (similar to 2)

Then, where does the advice "never neutral at zenith" means you will locate the kite when you want to attach the board leach, or just need a "rest" ?

Thanks. (PS: I fly 2-lines foils at this stage..... :wink: )


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 1:39 am 
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neutral means keeping the kite in the zenith.
so all the way up above your head, where it has the least power.

You are right, to get back on the board or want to have a rest you need to keep the kite in the zenith. But you won't rest close to the shore or close to any hard objects. I think that was the point they were talking about.

Greetings


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 3:40 am 
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Toby, you are right. The normal tendency for most kitesurfers is to bring the kite up to the vertical position, the zenith or neutral, call it what you will. If you are WELL offshore, have at it as you will be picked up and flung into water. If you are near shore or hard objects, don't do it! Bring the kite up just high enough off the ground to clear obstructions and get offshore without delay. Enough kitesurfers are getting caught, lifted or lofted and slammed into hard impacts to prove that this is an UNSAFE PRACTICE. Forget that you can get away with it most of the time. The very few times that you can't will make all the difference and will leave you shaken up at best, severely injured or worse in the extreme.

Rick Iossi


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