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.
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, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.