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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 5:17 am 
Unfortunately, going to neutral is necessary in certain launch spots. Like the main spot for riding in winter where I live. Due to the predominant wind direction, a shallow reef and other factors, we have to launch to zenith. If we kept the kite low (as we do in some other launch zones) the kite would be flying low over the beach and other people.

I suspect there are other spots where these types of variables make the launch to neutral necessary. However, it's good that we are making more people aware of the hazards associated with this practice. It's also good for us all to prepare ourselves and our gear for the unexpected accident. I wish industry would hurry up and put more emphasis on giving us better saftey aspects to deal with a host of safety issues that are becoming more and more apparant. I wish industry would get the message: Safety First!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 9:55 am 
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we should have a serious talk to the big names showing up at the kiteboardig masters in Maimi Beach and explain them the safety and sizing issues.
Would be great if we could do this together Rick.

Greetings
Toby


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 10:23 am 
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It is unfortunate that some launches restrict the ability to fly kites low and still get offshore without coming to close to obstructions and bystanders. These launches might be good canidates for realbars, careful configuration of kites, i.e. near fully sheeted out kites but still stable, launching unhooked/unsnapshackled (if feasible) and whatever other precautions to deal with sudden kite loading that might work.

Ultimately, as limited as launches can be, it might be good to cross off these restricted mobility launches off as viable launches. The variables of launches change tremendously throughout the world, so it is difficult to generalize. One thing that is easy to generalize about though is that unless substantial measures are in place and the kiter is well prepared, he will be lofted if his kite is in neutral or near the zenith and a adequate gust hits. This gust does not need to be astonishing powerful either. I witnessed one lofting where a rider was picked up off the water where he was moving on his board and bounced off a parked car. The rider was on a 13.5 to 15.5 m kite and the gust DID NOT exceed 32 mph. You can read about this and other incidents in the accident database.

Rick Iossi


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 10:29 am 
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Toby,

Yes, I have often said that safety innovations in this sport seem to often be one to two years behind performance innovations. In other words we are using similar safety concepts that came out two years ago with few improvements. On the other hand it is now possible to go out with very much larger kites on four lines in higher winds than was ever feasible on two lines, two to three years ago. The overwhelming power potential with these larger kites is clearly evident and the effects more frequently demonstrated by kiter incidents and accidents. I would be happy to discuss safety issues at the Kiteboarding Masters at whatever opportunity shows up.

The greatest threat to kitesurfers in my opinion is ignorance of the ways of getting into trouble and potentially injured. It is very good that we are talking about this.

Rick Iossi


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 10:49 am 
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it is very good indeed!
And specials thanks to you starting those discussions and running this accident database. This database wasn't invented to show how dangerous this sport can be but how accidents can be avoided.
THANKS RICK!!!!

If this forums keeps getting bigger and bigger we have a voice throughout the world with easy use for everyone to let the kiting world including manufacturers know about the problems out there.

Let's do it!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 5:17 pm 
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For the convenience of folks that don't want to register with yahoogroups and the kitesurf list, I have reproduced "Don't Get Lofted Feb. 26, 2002" below. We are still learning about how to get lofted and how to avoid it from happening. Incidents and ideas for dealing with this are worth passing on. Please post them here or email them to me privately.

Rick Iossi


Lofting is a reality for kiteboarders. Lofting used to be rare but it is becoming much more common around the world. Riders are being lifted out of control and slammed downwind with varying injuries coming from it, largely depending on luck . See the Kitesurfing Accident Database for more information on specific incidents at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/ ... 0Database/

Essentially if your kite is at neutral or near the zenith and you are hit by a gust, you will be lofted. The severity of the experience will depend heavily on your speed and correctness of reaction, surroundings, the gust velocity and luck. More on this below. Lofting has happened to riders on their boards out on the water relatively near shore and to many kitesurfers while still on the beach.

I have put together a set of precautions that seem to make sense and may help to reduce the chance of being lofted. Input is welcome, particularly from kiteboarders who have been lofted. The information on this phenomena and the means of avoiding it is still coming in. Gusts are the most common cause of course, more rare causes could include the apparent dust devil that occurred in Spain with Robert Sanchez's fatal accident and the thermal bubble that lofted Eric in Oahu to an incredible 225 ft.

1. Pick your weather carefully and if it changes for the worse come in promptly. If the weather radar, wind plots imply squalls or unduly gusty weather or if obvious storm clouds or other signs of unstable weather are moving in, it would be a good idea not to go kiteboarding. If you are already out and squalls are moving in, come in early and unrig well in advance of the storm.
When in doubt, don’t fly, wait for stable weather. Many riders that have been lofted were hit by sudden squall gusts.

2. If you are stationary in the water or on land, try to keep your kite at the edge of the wind window and near the surface. This may result in your being dragged as opposed to lofted, so plan accordingly. Be ready to depower your kite at the earliest opportunity if hit by a strong gust to try to avoid extended dragging and potential serious injury.

3. If you are near hard objects or if pronounced gusty conditions are developing, stay unhooked and be prepared to let go or more ideally, use a snapshackle to secure your chicken loop and/or reliable chicken loop with a safety release. Using both precautions should increase the reliability kite release in an emergency. It is important that the snapshackle is rigged properly to improve reliability of release. A metal ring or shackle should connect the snapshackle to the chicken loop. Under no conditions should the shackle be directly connected to the chicken loop. A center release snapshackle may provide a more reliable release under the kind of tremendous loading that comes with lofting. If you do use a snapshackle, rehearse mentally, frequently, " if I get lofted, pull the snapshackle release cord". In the shock of lofting, your reactions may be slow, so rehearsing may help. Of course if you are already high over land, this one is a very tough judgment call as riding things out may be the wiser course. To avoid having to make such critical
decisions in very little time, which may result in injury regardless of the decision, the best course is to work hard to avoid circumstances which may lead to lofting in the first place.

4. Avoid or simply don’t fly with onshore winds or kiteboard within 300 ft. upwind of hard objects. If you go out in onshore winds, which is NOT RECOMMENDED, kiteboard more than 300 ft. offshore until it is time to come in. I would come in without delay, keeping the kite low and be prepared to let go of your bar if lofted. This technique generally requires assisted landings shortly after you make it to shore. Do not jump within 300 ft. of shore or hard downwind objects. If feasible it would be a good idea to have assisted launches and landings at least 200 feet offshore in onshore winds, thereby avoiding having an airborne kite closer to shore than 200 feet.

5. Be particularly cautious while upwind of bystanders. If circumstances seem to support possible lofting, it would be best not to launch at all. If the rider decides to go despite this recommendation and prudence, he should move a substantial distance (300 ft. or more), away from the bystanders.

5. Try to use shorter line sets if you are expecting stronger winds. Also do not fly a larger kite than supported by the probably conditions. Make sure your kite depower system COMPLETELY depowers your kite.

6. Always wear a good well padded close fitting, light and low bulk helmet! Wearing an impact vest is also a good idea.

7. Do not come within 100' of substantial vertical surfaces or walls with onshore winds to avoid potentially being lifted in the slip stream that runs up the face of the vertical surface. In theory even relatively minor winds could cause substantial uplift along the face of buildings, cliffs, hills, etc.

8. Do not fly your kite near thermal generating conditions. Please see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kiteboard/message/34927 for more info on thermals.

Of course, kiteboarders can break all of the above guidelines and perhaps be perfectly OK for hundreds of hours on the water, then again, maybe not. One kiteboarder I know made it through two years of going out in virtually every kind of weather including two hurricanes, before he smacked into a bad landing and and serious injury onshore. Unfortunately, sad experience has shown that given enough time, bad things have a way of catching up with us if we go a little too
extreme, too often. The number of lofting cases is currently increasing around the world. We really need to avoid lofting, particularly near others, for
both our own good and that of the sport.

Rick Iossi
kitesrfer@aol.com


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2002 5:41 pm 
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Here are a couple of documents that discuss thermal lofting. This may be a rare phenomena but considering how common and powerful thermals are and large kites these days, this trend may not continue.

I think many of us would agree that getting lofted in a thermal is
theoretically possible; after all, thousands of paragliders and hang gliders do this routinely every week worldwide and have done for decades. Lots of us have kites with lifting areas near equivalent to hang gliders and Para gliders, so what is the real difference in a thermal? Of course smaller kites could be just as dangerous in similar thermal conditions. More importantly, if kitesurfers aren't aware of the possibility of this happening and the circumstances that may cause it, it is almost certain to happen again. The next time it happens may be without the happy ending.

Thermals are abundant, often violent and extremely powerful in Florida, in many other parts of the US and world in general. Desert and arid areas, Cabo Verde, parts of Hawaii, Baja, no doubt parts of Oz and many other prime kitesurfing destinations have frequent, very strong thermals. When hang gliding we look for them aggressively as they can maintain your flight time indefinitely as long as you can keep running into them. Hang gliders are designed for stable, safe flight for extended periods of time as well as dealing with major stresses caused by violent thermals, unfortunately kitesurfing kites are not. Any of us who have messed up a jump in mid air, stalled the kite and fallen like a rock can testify to that.

Thermals are usually invisible, rising columns or bubbles of warm or hot air generally 100 typically to 300 feet in diameter. So you could be lifted in a thermal and fall out of it and down suddenly, happens all the time to hang gliders. In Florida, the upward lift on hang gliders in thermals ranges typically from 200 to in excess of 700 feet per minute (FPM). In arid areas thermals in excess of 1000 FPM can occur. Now the interesting part, larger kitesurfing kites begin to approximate the wing or lifting area of hang gliders. I haven't checked yet, but I suspect that my AB 16.4 m exceeds the area of most hang gliders. Now a kitesurfing kite won't have the lifting efficiency of a hang glider but I suspect it comes close enough under certain circumstances. So what!?

The point of all this is, that under certain circumstances it is possible and perhaps even likely, that kitesurfers could get lifted hundreds of feet in thermals. This happened in Oahu in June, 2001 with tons of witnesses including the media at a kitesurfing competition. Generally this will be over the land as thermal generation over water is normally weak. If you are kitesurfing on an offshore wind day, then the risk still applies as the thermals will generate over land and blow offshore.

So why isn't this happening all the time? Who knows but the potential for a few very serious, likely terminal accidents a year exists. For those of us that go in the ocean in onshore winds, don't loiter on the beach with kites in the air MAY, theoretically be at low risk of experiencing this. For people that launch inland at lakes, rivers, for playing around, maybe even kiteskiing (you can get strong thermals in snow), they are at risk. Thermal generation is often associated with dark fields,i.e. parking lots, large sandy areas, rising masses or high ground i.e. hills, mountains or CONDOS OR OTHER TALL BUILDINGS (?), clear skies with bright sun, cold fronts with high pressure systems. Other likely thermal collectors to stay away from include large groups of trees, hot asphalt with cars, crop fields, etc. essentially any large and dark area which can trap air prior to the breeze becoming strong enough to cause penetration and allow mixing. In short, from pretty commonly occurring conditions particularly inland.

So if you kitesurf inland or near prime thermal generating conditions along the ocean, what do you do? To be honest I am not sure, be very careful and selective at when to fly at a minimum. Trying to understand your local thermal generation characteristics through local hang gliders, paragliders, sailplane pilots as fully as possible would be another recommended approach.

Thermals are always around us, but often at not real strong levels. It is the strong ones that you have to watch out for while you are at risk. In a small to moderately sized lake or river this could be the entire time you are out, including while on the water. I would be particularly careful if you kitesurf on a lake in arid, desert-like conditions, say near the Great Salt Lake, etc. Say you pop a nice jump near the windward shore and a thermal comes along while you are in flight, up you go and where you come down could be over land. Also, if you fly smaller kites are you safe? Maybe but I don't think so, not in a strong thermal. It may not lift you hundreds of feet but 30 feet over land is enough to do serious harm. Some kitesurfers have reported being lofted on relatively small kites in possible thermals already.

This sport is very new on a widespread basis. The ways of
interacting with the weather, e.g., lightening, sudden strong gusts, now thermals, are only starting to become known, sometimes in very negative ways.

Fly safe,
Rick

This message blind copied to all HKA-O members:

For those of you who didn't hear, at the Mokuleia contest Eric Eck got
unintentionally lifted by a thermal bubble 150 to 200 feet in the air (see
attached photo from December issue of paragliding magazine). By some
miracle he escaped with only bruises.

He had just finished the first heat and had landed on the beach. His kite
was in neutral and he was stepping over some lines when he got lifted by a
gust about 6 feet in the air. He hovered there then started going up and
didn't stop until witnesses say he was one kitelength over the ironwoods at
the Haleiwa side of the park which are about 70 to 80 ft tall. His path
took him over the Naupaka at the shoreline then to the ironwoods where he
got his boost, at his apex he was over the park and heading towards the
parked cars. Luckily he had the presence of mind to not panic and steer the
kite back towards the beach. He is also lucky the lift/wind did not
suddenly stop. His parachute training helped him fly the kite to a pretty
rough landing. Most important of all he did not let go, if he did at the
apex he surely would have died.

The conditions were ideal for the creation of thermals. The steady wind had
not started yet, the sun was in and out the clouds and when it was out it
was super hot. We were getting waves of wind which would correspond to
releases of the bubbles shown in the diagram. Des theorizes a large pocket
of hot air was created in the ironwoods which is dark in relation to
surrounding terrain and was released when Eric's kite (a 15.5) was in the
right spot.

So beware if conditions are similar when you are launching: intermittent
wind, patchy clouds, hot sun, being next to a thermal cooker (a dark area of
the ground which can trap heat and the wind can't get to for mixing). The
thermal bubbles have a surface tension which allows them to build up and you
don't want to be caught in one like Eric was when it releases. If you
happen to be that unfortunate we all learned to either let go early or hang
on and ride it out.

HKA Officers


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