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 Post subject: KS#9 - Would you do this, if not, why not?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:08 pm 
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Kiteboarding Scenario #9 - Would you do this, if not, why not?

You've been kiting for about a year mainly inland. You go to the coast, travel past calmer more popular inland venues and head to the beach. Conditions are nuking, real uneven winds gusting up to 35, perhaps into the low 40 mph range with lulls to around 20 mph. There is considerable wind shadow from coastal hills upwind making the wind uneven. The ocean is a ragged mess with around 10 ft. real powerful swells. There are also rip currents, with the air and water in the 50's F. All you have is 10 m flat kite.

This is your first time kiting on the ocean in such extreme conditions.

Would you go kiting there? If not, why not?


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 Post subject: Re: KS#9 - Would you do this, if not, why not?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:09 pm 
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A number of accidents and incidents have played out in big seas and high winds over the years. Here are a few scenarios that build upon that described above. There are still lots of other ways of having problems in the waves.

1. An inexperienced kiter breaks out of the smaller wave zone nearer shore with persistence and makes it into the breaker zone with the big waves. The kite stalls in lulls due to wave induced air turbulence or to windshadow from land masses upwind and hits the water. If the kite stalls directly overhead there have been cases when the kiter is "showered" with falling line making a serious tangle more likely. Or, perhaps even more likely the kiter is caught by a big wave, rolled and the kite is driven to the surface. This has happened to pro riders. In either case, the rider is tangled, the kite is caught by a large wave and he is held under with great force. With repeated waves the rider may be kept beneath the water for an excessively long time. If the conditions are particularly cold the rider's ability to sort things out will be even more impaired.

There was a case of this happening to a rider some years back who was able to cut free and in triple head high seas in Florida. We should always come prepared and practiced to cut free but it may be a stretch to pull it off particularly for a newer kiter, worse in big seas. Learning how to wipepout in big seas to try to maintain stable kite flight comes with time. We need to work up to riding in more extreme conditions at a reasonable rate. Also, they aren't for everyone by choice. Rushing into such conditions before you are practiced in managing the things that will go wrong can be a very big mistake.

2. Another scenario would be the kite goes down and stays down. Rendering a kite non-relaunchable in large waves can be hard to avoid at times. This can happen while you are attempting to relaunch too, pretty easily if it is caught be a wave. You could be tangled with submerged line and not even know it. You are stuck self-rescuing which in larger waves is again something for more experienced kiters. There is more than one way to do it and different circumstances might dictate different approaches. Newer guys might not pull it off or might get tangled. A flotation aid such as an impact vest can be a big help in setting up for self-rescue, avoiding drowning due to exhaustion or forcing a kiter to try to exit in a poor area vs. a better wave sheltered spot not too far away. An impact vest can also reduce needless loss of calories and increased fatigue in staying afloat in colder conditions. Excessive flotation can be a problem in breaking wave zones however. Being careful not to be tangled by your gear as you pass through breaker zones on the way to shore is another area of focus.

3. Yet another scenario is hitting submerged rocks in shallow areas in breaking waves. This has taken out a number of kiters over the years. Other than wearing a good helmet, impact vest and making sure you are good and lucky enough not to wipeout badly, not much else you can do on the surface. Avoiding such areas is one approach particularly for newer kiters. If your kite goes down in such areas be particularly careful to avoid a tangle. The lines can travel along rocks and pull your under if the kite is caught by a wave. Having the option to cut out is always a good thing to have and with luck you might even be able to do it.

Big waves are for more advanced riders, same with high, excessively gusty winds. If you have a desire to go out into them, work up to it slowly, experience the lesser things that go wrong and how to try to avoid or deal with them. Rushing things before you're ready is a bad idea. If in doubt, don't go out.
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 Post subject: Re: KS#9 - Would you do this, if not, why not?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:12 pm 
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