Helping someone to launch? There are few things that you should look for:
1. Do the leading edge lines BOTH converge to the center of the control bar (forming a NICE Vee shape), AND does the kite size feel appropriate for the winds?
Crossed flight lines have caused serious injuries and recently too. Rigging errors are relatively easy to spot. If you don't see the leading edge lines vee into the center of the control bar, put the kite down, thoroughly anchor it, redo the necessary lines and preflight, again! If the kite seems too large for conditions, talk to the kiteboarder about it. Visiting and new kiteboarders sometimes just fly whatever and damn the consequences UNTIL they happen.
2. Are you in a good position for a launch?
That is well away from hard objects, powerlines, trees, slopes or walls (that might cause an uplift lofting), 200 ft. or more is ideal. If you can't be that far away, are you as far away as feasible. Also, at many launches it is safer to launch with the kite near or better still, from the water in the shallows offshore.
3. Are the kite lines near perpendicular to the wind?
Perpendicular works for winds in the mid range for a given kite. A slightly greater angle than 90 degrees may be necessary for launching at the light end. Slightly less than 90 degrees may be necessary to avoid "hot launching" the rider with strong winds in the upper range for a given kite.
4. Did you agree on a launch signal AND confirmation with the kiteboarder before agreeing to launch him?
Don't rely upon yelled signals or a single hand signal. Lots of guys have been dragged and injured by premature launching due to mistaken communication. Be sure!
5. Does the kite look OK?
Are all the battens and leading edge well inflated, lines free of knots, etc. as far as you can see? If not, abort the launch and fix it BEFORE launching.
6. You receive the first signal to launch, is the area downwind (ideally at least 300 ft.), free of bystanders, nearby dogs, etc.?
If the kite doesn't appear to be biting into the air and wants to take off you might indicate to the kiteboarder that he should wait for the wind to fill in. Does the wind appear to be excessively gusty and would waiting a minute or so bring less violent wind? Otherwise, give the acknowledgment signal to the rider and wait for the kiteboarders confirming signal and then GENTLY release the kite.
Do you have other ideas out there for things that a kiteboarding assistant should look out for? It goes without saying, DON'T USE UNTRAINED PEOPLE to help you launch and land. Go over procedures with whomever helps you including experienced guys. Misunderstandings can really HURT in a launch or landing gone seriously wrong. Some photos and ideas on launch communication signals appear in the KSR at:
The post above this went up nine years ago. I came across a video that brought this old post back to mind, see below.
The video caption blames the incident on a poor kite release but from the look of things the lines were crossed on the kite. That is a front line was accidentally connected to a rear attachment on the kite or vis versa resulting in crossed lines and a soon to be out of control kite. It is one of the best videos I have seen, thankfully without injuries apparently. When your lines are crossed, the kite doesn't want to bite into the wind initially and fly up but bumps and hesitates. This is a tip off to both an informed kite launcher and to the kiter himself. Once released the kite drifts down into the window, the lines tighten up and the kite flies at light speed 180 degrees to the other side of the window. The kiter is usually dragged at high speed as well.
This has resulted in fatalities and serious injuries since near the start of the sport. "Kook-proof" or polar line connectors in theory should have ended this problem. The guy is flying a North kite, I think North was one of the first to use polar connectors years ago. Still, people often will find a way of screwing things up. ANY kite can have uncontrolled looping. The first serious incident I saw over ten years ago involved a two line kite.
Setup a routine for rigging and checking that you are comfortable with and stick with it. Preflight your kite and lines before riding. ANYTHING that makes your lines of unequal length tells your kite you want to turn, the more unequal the length, the harder and more violent the turn. Crossed line attachment creates a radical turn. Other things that impact line length include a line tangle, wrapped wing tip, seized pulley, stick or object stuck in the lines, tangle on your bar or on you, etc. etc..
So called "Death Looping" is caused by unequal line lengths as well and can be very hard to stop out once it starts. Depowering may no longer work due to twisting and if the kiter is tangled he can't release the kite. The looping can continue pulling the kiter at speed sometimes lofting him out of the water until something breaks. A number of kiters have been killed by looping kites over the years.
Kite helpers should look down the lines to see that they form nice "V's" and are free of tangles. The kite should bite into the air and want to fly if it is rigged right, you are in the correct position relative to the wind window and there is enough wind. If the kite bumps and stalls, put it down and check the kite and lines again.
It is EASY to avoid launching with crossed lines, but you have to go at things correctly.