I just heard about this accident this morning. It heads up a list of many incidents, accidents and bad trends that I see commonly in my area and suspect are relatively common elsewhere. Rather than wait for folks to checkout the accident database, I wanted to reproduce the account here. We really need to change our approach to this sport in some cases if we want to continue to have access.
Incident # 3 02 1
Date: March 1, 2002 Location: East Coast of Florida, USA
Title: Bad Judgement Injures Rider, Damages Sport!
Posted by: Rick Iossi
Summary: A kitesurfing instructor and professional kitesurfing competitor with very extensive experience had just completed giving a lesson. He rigged up an Airblast 11.8 m quickly connecting a new Airrush control bar for the first time. The winds were side offshore gusting to 30 kts. He did not carefully preflight his setup as he was in a hurry to get out on the water. He is on the order of 6Ã¢â‚¬â„¢2Ã¢â‚¬
asside from all the other obvious things that could have prevented this, why don't people just use the standard hook for attaching the bar to your harness instead of a shackle, or a clip? wouldn't this solve just about all the problems of not being able to get out of the chicken loop?
Rob, you may be right. But it always depends on the situation. Sometimes you get out without a problem, sometimes not.
But Rick is right in saying that you always have to check the gear first. And NEVER hurry up too much, specially when using new gear!!!! Always take your time with the setup and do your routine. New stuff should always being tested before in light conditions, specially stuff from different producers. There can be big differences in the line lenght and setups.
In this case, this advanced rider was just using the hook without snap shackle or clips. Many advanced riders are doing just that, no kite leashes or snap shackles. Normally they have the skill, speed and strength to unhook but not always.
In this case, mine and many others once there is enough load on the bar to have you hurling through space at high speed you just don't have the strength or time to unhook. That is the main reason that I went to a snap shackle for my Airblasts. In my case aside from major load on the bar my harness line twisted tightly on to the harness hook.
Of course permanently attaching to your kite has its own set of major risks. Reacting very quickly and correctly is all that may save you from going through the same experience with a snap shackle. This may or may not happen, frequent mental rehearsal of what to do may make a difference in the outcome. Needless to say, this is a dangerous sport. Until the reliability of safety gear catches up with kite performance this will remain a serious threat to rider safety.
In the meantime I would use all the safety gear that I could get my hands on, a good helmet, impact vest, hook knife and gloves. I have been wearing this stuff for over three years. It saved my life once and saved me from breaking some ribs and other grief on numerous other occassions. The caution and technique with which we approach this sport really needs to progress for both the good of the sport and the riders.