Rick, your premise is good but it is based on the fact that riders are trained to "let go" when brain freeze happens. If you review the kitemares you will discover this rarely is the case.
Riders have to train themselves to anticipate problems and take appropriate action. Take for example a self-launch, as the rider allows wind to create a center of energy the top lines will tension, instead of immediately launching, the rider should check these lines. They are the potential problem. As the rider sees the malfunction he moves towards the kites center of energy and gets out of the harness or releases his QR. In this case never did the rider "pull" in on the bar to launch the kite.
I strongly agree that riders need to spend time planning and anticipating their launch and exit long before they attempt it, however, I disagree with your suggestion that riders launch in gear 4 and I respectfully suggest you remove it from your "safety points" in favor of something to the effect of "anticipating brain freeze on the launch and exit".
For this and more insight check out "Kiteboarding's Simple Plan" the Book
Not a lot of perfect solutions in this to be sure. Going back through my recollection of the 80 odd KSI accounts, I am having trouble remembering a substantial portion in which failure to let go figured in the accident. Then again there have been cases where people DID hang on like grim death for the complete ride and impact.
In my own experience over the last 4 1/2 years I always have let go or more accurately had it yanked from my grasp on those limited occassions when I was holding the bar and something like this came to pass. Then again, everyone may react differently. I remember discussing training with you at SurfExpo in Orlando. That is training reactions as opposed to mental processing. It isn't perfect but I would encourage people to frequently practice mentally and physically dealing with emergency situations. That is both hooked in and unhooked. It may not kick in with an emergency, then again, it might.
To launch/land with reliable safety, while hooked (that is connected to the chicken loop), the following conditions need to be present:
No line tangles
No crossed lines
No line snags on branches, etc.
No broken leading edge lines
No broken leading edge pigtails
No breakage of the chicken loop assembly
No excessive gusts, lulls and gusts or wind direction changes
No launching seriously overpowered
No excessive wind gradient
No assisted launch errors, premature, etc.
No assisted landing errors
No premature solo launch
No kite leash malfunction on solo landing
No serious bar control input errors
No interferance from bystanders with your lines or bar
No impact with other kites or lines during launch or landing
and IF something goes wrong, you need to be able to reach and successfully activate your connection mechanism. Experience has shown that you may not be able to find it, reach it as you are being dragged, reach it as you are tied up, are unconcious, it may not release due to corrosion or clogging with sand, wrong pull angle with some shackles, Or you just may not think of it due to brain freeze, etc.
and more ...
ALL of these factors have resulted in accidents in the past. Kiteboarding can be dangerous and it definitely isn't as easy as it looks. IF you launch/land unhooked AND let go AND your tested, well maintained kite leash works as intended, there is a good chance that you will escape serious injury.
IF you are hooked in that is your chicken loop is connected, you may be in for some injury. I have ALWAYS assumed that I could be injured by hooking in or connecting to my chicken loop while near hard objects for YEARS. People are proving this the hard way all the time.
None of it is perfect. Launching unhooked, WITH a proper buffer area can and does work under certain circumstances. There are other ideas that may work just as well or better. We should do something other than to hitch ourselves to something that can drag or loft us at high speed if any of the above or other misfortune happens.
Peter, I am not sure what you mean about old gear? My pin release is fairly new. You might be referring to retrofitting fixed QR harness lines on new bar systems without them.
The accidents are happening because people are hooked in near hard objects. We should do something to improve this aspect of kiteboarding. Solutions are needed, launching/landing unhooked is only one idea. What are some others that have been tried and work?