I wanted to repost something from another forum (iwindsurf), on this subject:
You experienced what appears to be the most common cause of lofting, wind gusts. I have heard of only one thermal lofting incident, EricÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in Oahu, although there may be other incidents. I think that there is a potential for many more thermal lofting incidents to occur considering how common and powerful thermals can be.
As to gust induced lofting, there are entirely too many and more on the way, unfortunately. I can appreciate your comment about very rare gusts at Alameda. In Florida such gusts are also somewhat rare but do occur throughout the year. In Maui these sort of gusts are common. As a result most Maui kitesurfers practice anti-lofting techniques routinely, because the have to, routinely. In Florida and it sounds like in Alameda, these more rare gusts allow for more complacent kitesurfing techniques with only occasional severe lessons.
If I understand your account correctly, your kite was in neutral or near the zenith when the gust hit? If so, that is a bad place for it to be at ANY TIME but especially during a gust. Kites lift very effectively, if you point your kite up and a strong gust hits, that is where you will go. If your kite is kept near the horizon, you may be violently dragged which can still seriously injure you. At least once and if you depower your kite, you will be on the ground and not having to deal with the second part of a lofting experience, slamming to earth. It was great that you were able to place the kite near the horizontal and arrest the power a bit. I also applaud your grabbing the safety release leash to avoid a possible failure of the connection to your wrist or harness. It sounds like you avoided a very nasty situation by a quick reaction. Is this sport great or what!!! It is important to note though, THE MAIN WAY TO AVOID LOFTING IS NEVER HAVE YOUR KITE AT NEUTRAL while on shore or near hard objects.
A major goal is to first avoid gusty, squally weather. If one hits anyway, mentally rehearse very carefully frequently what you will do. Using both a properly rigged center pivot snapshackle and chicken loop safety release may improve the odds of your coming out of the lofting incident intact. Unfortunately, several kitesurfers, including myself, HAVE NOT been able to unhook the chicken loop during lofting. Also, the mere act of sheeting in to permit unhooking powers the kite up more. Using mechanical releases present a more reliable way of separating from the kite than manual unhooking.
Congratulations on coming through a potentially very bad experience in one piece. I agree with all your tactics, except placing your kite at neutral. Until more kiters avoid doing this there will likely be many more unfortunate, avoidable lofting incidents.
Just want to add something. I think it is important to distinguish lofting/lifting induced by thermal bubbles from being lifted by surprisingly appearing strong "regular" wind. How to be prepared and react correctly is probably different. Please correct if I am wrong....here is the story:
It recently happened that I was out kiting on a 140 Slingshot fuel in 10-15 miles/hour wind and literally within 2 minutes the wind increased to 30 miles/h and another two minutes later to 40 m/h. This happened in Alameda, a low wind spot where these strong winds "never" happen. Mother nature is full with surprises.
However - in that situation I probably did the only right thing when the wind started lifting/lofting me (I am a 140 pound girl with medium-weak muscles and endurance). And this was 1. )keeping the kite in neutral (!) (the depower strap slipped when I tried to pull it down because of the wind- forces and powered the kite up to the full powered position...ack...)...and 2.) then moving it (waterwards!) in a smooth, fast movement to the edge of the window and in this only moment of relatively "low pull" and having the angle of the harness hook/chicken loop right to unhook and let go of the bar, 3.)grabbing quickly, before the full pull hits, the end of the safety leash with both hands to avoid shoulder dislocation . A key step was certainly to keep the kite in neutral to gain "maximum" control over the direction to where to move the kite. And to visualize mentally steps 2 and 3 before doing them. So - that is very different from thermally induced lifts. Because these move straight vertical. Does that sound correct? Because it was straight wind I was lifted out of the water just a few feet high but blown very fast downwind.
It was still difficult to get back to shore with that big depowered flapping kite in 40 m/h and a board which was flying out of the water and behaving like a kite
too. Was kinda of interesting...
cheers - Sylvia