I wanted to repost something from the kitesurf forum at yahoogroups.
Congratulations on coming through a dicey session and intact! Thanks for your sharing the story and particularly the potential of squalls to put highly experienced kiteboarders at some risk. You were 10 kts. below the squall wind gust that sent a very experienced rider in Cabarete, DR, 250 m (820 ft.) horizontally and 30 m (100 ft.) high, about 7 weeks ago. I would say you were very fortunate.
How far offshore were you when you were lofted? I am glad that you were able to get out of your chicken loop in time. I am not surprised that Wes had trouble getting out of his. In winds like that it is hard to estimate the potential load on the bar but to say it might be from several hundred to in excess of 1000 lbs. may not be far off. This is based in part on story of the 7.5 m kite that moved a 3300 lb. mini van a foot. So if you are hooked in when a strong gust hits, I wouldn't count on being able to unhook particularly if it twists in the hook. A snap shackle may allow you to release then again maybe not. If things move fast or if the shackle acts up you may be connected for the complete ride. The best thing is to avoid the squall in the first place resulting in missed time on the water but a longer, healthier kiteboarding career.
I am also glad that you had a kite depowering safety leash, it worked and it didn't break. Too many riders aren't using leashes anymore. It isn't skill that justifies it, that is for sure. Fingers crossed for the folks that are downwind if they let there kite go, it could get very ugly. I am thinking about the recent runaway kite that prematurely launched by itself and flew a couple of hundred meters and almost cut a teenagers neck, it did cut up his arm and hand, after slicing a couple of seperate kitelines along the way in South Africa.
I would recommend that everyone take a hard look at their depowering leashes to make sure that they have no weakpoints that may cause them to brake under normal loading. Also, make sure that they will properly depower the kite, i.e. they are long enough if a not a reride or similar system.
Congratulations again and thanks for passing on your experience. The warm, squally season is coming to much of the northern hemisphere. Avoid those squalls guys.
<< We had a squally westerly today in Melbourne, which is dicey at
the best of times.
I was out in a small harbour in Brighton in about 20 knots when
a 35-40 knot squall came through with no warning at about 4pm
(check it out on the windgraph if you don't believe me! )
http://www.earthsci.unimelb.edu.au/~awa ... eacon.html
The next thing I knew I was 20 feet off the water with no board,
flying very fast upwards towards a house on the waters edge.
After doing a major moonwalk and landing in the water just
missing a wooden groin, I had no choice but to ditch my bar
before I got catapulted into the brick wall. Luckily I got out of my
chicken loop while controlling my kite in the air.
My mate Wes was even more trouble, as he couldn't get out of
the chicken loop on his 11.5 ARX. Just as he got close to the
rocky beach / brick wall, he got out and let go of his bar. He came
VERY close to serious injury.
Both kites ended up in trees in the back yard of one lucky beach
side home owner, nearly taking out a gardener in the process.
Anyway - no one was hurt, but if it wasn't for safety leashes,
some kite control etc. things would have been much worse.
We are both very experienced kiters, and in 3 years + have never
had an incident like this before. It just goes to show that
understanding of local weather is very important - and safety
leashes / quick releases important. If I was shackled to my
chicken loop I would have headplanted the roof of this house for
sure. Without a safety leash, my kite would have flown a few
blocks and landed god knows where in surburbia.
This wasn't an issue of kite control, it was an issue of kiting in
dicey onshore conditions too close to shore. If you know your
local conditions (which we do) and know that squalls are
possible (which we did) then be prepared for carnage.
There was another incident earlier in the day when another
friend of mine nearly got wiped oput by a simlar squall. Luckily,
he was on a wide beach, and we managed to grab him and hold
him down after two 50 foot long beach teabags.
Anyway - be careful out there!