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Lessons from the water ...

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Lessons from the water ...

Postby RickI » Wed Apr 10, 2002 4:35 am

Michael suggested having explanations to go with the solutions to the exam problems, so, here they are! This exam was originally put together for experienced riders, ones that wanted to compete. The questions probe two main areas, knowledge of hazards and exercising good informed judgment to avoid the hazards. New riders, often don’t have enough of either resource, understandably. That is why good training is so important. For the more experience riders, use of good judgment is often what decides how safely things will go. For now many of the more spectacular accidents in the database have happened to experienced riders. Kiteboarding is an extreme sport and will always be dangerous, that is fine. It would be nice to minimize the easily avoidable accidents however. I don't think that it is very extreme or daring in setting yourself up for an avoidable accident. The correct answers that I chose are marked in the following fashion: <<True>>. The answers and explanations represent my opinions which are derived from conventional wisdom and personal experience. Other valid opinions and explainations exist and will likely be developed in the future. Input on this is welcome.

Rick Iossi

Pre-competition Kiteboarder Exam

Select the response provided that describes the most appropriate answer and safest approach (HINT!), for the conditions described.

1. The beach is crowded and although it is possible to launch your kite there are many people close by and downwind. What should you do?
a. Ask people to move out of the way, tell them you are launching and exercise good kite control.
b. Just launch quickly, exercising good kite control and get offshore without delay.
** c. Walk out into the shallows well away from the crowds and bathers and do an assisted launch.
d. Do a rapid assisted launch from the beach and get offshore without delay
e. None of the above

EXPLANATION: Launching kites with people downwind, within one kite line length is not safe, for the bystanders. If you launch under these conditions you are deciding for the bystanders the amount of risk that they will be under, without consulting them of course. Lots of riders do this, but we shouldn't IF we want to avoid complaints, incidents and attendant restrictions or worse. The question implies that conditions are too crowded on the beach but that it is possible to walk well away from shore to do an assisted launch. My motto for kiteboarding, particularly while learning, is to "stay far away from everyone." If this isn't feasible at your launch, I would say to drive a bit further or to schedule riding when it isn't too crowded. Don't plan on keeping kite control at all times. I saw one of the best riders in the world lose control of his kite four times in a recent competition. It hit a tree once and the beach three times. Everyone eventually loses kite control, plan for it.

2. Kite depowering leashes don’t necessarily have to be worn because:
a. Good kiteboarders can safely handle their kites at all times whether they have a leash or not.
b. Leashes are a hazard to good riders and shouldn't’t be worn.
c. This is BS, I can handle it.
d. Inflatable kites are built like big beach balls, if someone loses a kite no one can get hurt.
e. ** None of the above.

EXPLANATION: Leashes should be worn by any kiteboarder that is riding upwind of others, period. If not, again the rider is deciding on the amount of risk bystanders will have to accept, without consulting them. There are serious consequences for runaway kites in populated areas. As I am writing this, a power company bucket truck is extracting a kite from a tree 40 ft. off the ground and very close to some high tension lines. This guy had a leash, it was just connected to an improperly rigged and ineffective depower line. So the kite broke the leash when the bar was released and it flew 180 ft. across a road and into a tree. EVERYONE loses control of kites and loses kites, eventually. Just checkout this months Kiteboarding Mag. for a nice shot of a kite in the middle of a busy highway where no leash was used. Hey, a good rider doesn't need one...right? I am hopeful that new leash designs will come out within the year that will render excuses that riders use to not wear leashes a thing of the past.

3. When you are jumping, what conditions should apply routinely?
a. If the wind is good, you have plenty of room and the nearest windsurfers are at least 50 ft. downwind, go ahead and jump!
b. If the wind is good, you have plenty of room and the nearest windsurfers are at least 75 ft. downwind, go ahead and jump!
** c. If the wind is good, you have plenty of room and the nearest windsurfers are at least 200 ft. downwind, go ahead and jump!

EXPLANATION: The exam does ask for the safest response. So, in kiteboarding "distance is your friend." If you bust a landing and drop your kite downwind it could easily clip a windsurfer within 100 ft. If you get dragged a bit, you could clip one within 150 ft. Good riders NEVER bust landings though ... right? I am reminded of a case in Maui a while back where the lines of a runaway kite (no leash), cut into another kiteboarders ankle, down to the bone. Gotta be careful with powered kites.

4. You are having one of the best riding sessions ever but you notice a really black squall line is moving in quickly, what should you do?
a. Keep kiteboarding but be watchful as the wind might die or change direction.
** b. Land your kite well in advance of the squall while the winds are still unaffected.
c. Good riders and equipment can always handle weather extremes, just be ready to handle it if winds gust
d. Come closer to shore and be ready to land your kite quickly if the wind gusts or lightening strikes.
e. None of the above.
EXPLANATION: Please check out the recent Kitesurfing Safety Information draft account at or checkout many of the lofting accidents described in the accident database at Stormy or squally weather plays a frequent part in serious lofting incidents. The key is to have your kite anchored on the beach well before the wind changes with the oncoming squall. The database is full of guys that waited too long.

5. You are coming into shore, you are tired and need to land, the wind is gusting and unstable but the beach is crowded, what should you do?
a. Come in carefully, keep your kite near the zenith or neutral and do a rapid assisted landing.
b. Come in carefully, keep your kite near the zenith or neutral, ask people to move out of the way and do a
rapid assisted landing.
c. Stay out and hope that conditions stabilize.
** d. Do an assisted landing well away from shore and bathers.
e. None of the above.

EXPLANATION: Similar to question # 3, distance is your friend, you are tired, it is possible to do an assisted landing well away from others, it is the obvious thing to do. Otherwise you put bystanders at risk and potentially generate complaints, etc.

6. It is low tide, the water depth where you are shredding is under a foot and a half deep, the wind is nuking and there are a ton of hot folks on the beach checking out your moves, what should you do?
** a. Go 200 yards further offshore where the water is at least six feet deep.
b . Be prepared to land flat on your back if you are about screw up a landing to avoid hitting bottom.
c. Don’t do radical tricks and keep your jumps under 25 ft.
d. Just be careful, a good rider should be able to handle it.
e. None of the above.

EXPLANATION: There are a couple of accidents in the Accident Database and many accounts in the kitesurf group archives about serious leg injuries caused by busting landings in too shallow water. A good rider never busts landings though, right? The obvious course is to head a bit further offshore into 6 ft. or deeper water and go nuts out there, more safely.

7. You are about to pass a windsurfer from behind and you have plenty of wind and room, what should you do?
** a. Pass downwind and well away from the windsurfer.
b. Bring your kite up to near the zenith or neutral and carefully pass upwind of the windsurfer.
c. Just move quickly and carefully by the upwind side of the windsurfer.
d. Jump over the windsurfer.
e. None of the above.

EXPLANATION: We have a launch near my area with lots of windsurfers and kiteboarders in the same stretch of water. All too frequently I see kiteboarders coming too close to windsurfers on the upwind side, flying their lines too close to the windsurfers to where some of the windsurfers actually drop their rig in the water on occasion and jumping and landing too close to windsurfers. Kiteboarders are often faster, in my experience, than windsurfers. It isn’t a big deal at all to pass well away on the downwind side of the windsurfer. We can easily make up the lost distance rapidly. IF it isn’t possible to pass downwind of the windsurfer then response “bâ€

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