I am Bruno Legaignoux and was invited by Toby to discuss with you guys about safety. Concerning the helmet, I think that most head injuries concern the face (when you don't use a board leash) so the helmet should be "integral" to be efficient. I can't imagine myself kitesurfing with a motorcycle helmet (here in Dominican rep I just wear a short and a harness all along the year!), but I agree that it would be useful and that kitesurfers which use helmets take less risks than the other ones. I remember a friend hurting his face with his knee after a jump last year. If a brand can make one light and well protecting my face, I would certainly wear it in up to 20 knots wind.
Concerning Silke's accident, I agree that due to so close obstacles, a quick release (QR) could not have worked but nobody in this discussion said that if the guy had a kite leash, his kite would not have powered Silke, it would have fully depowered so they would have been 2 kitesurfers powered by one kite, not one kitesurfer powered by 2 kites. I don't blame the guy at all, he did what he thought to be the best. Unfortunatly it was not.
The main reason people don't use kite leashes is because there is not one manufacturer to deliver a device allowing them to make loops without having the leash twisting around the centerline. There are a few devices available but people have to modify them by themselves. Not so many people can do it.
We at Takoon are preparing an improved version of our usual QR. You know, the manufacturers need time to bring something new on the market because production is now "industrial". The QR also needs to be super-reliable otherwise it is worst than no QR. It needs to be cheap too. For these 2 last reasons the stainless steel shackles can't be used by the kitesurf brands, we need simple, light, cheap and reliable QRs
Actually our 4 line bars come with 4 different safety devices:
- center line QR to fully depower the kite
- harness loop QR to fully depower the kite if hooked to harness line
- leash attached to one of the front lines to avoid loosing the kite (so dangerous for others)
- leash QR - to be used in peril of death only
Ones say that such QR are not quick enough to open. I agree that nothing is perfect but please consider that you should always have a certain safety margin, a few seconds before reaching an obstacle. If you don't always keep such a margin, you are a fool, nothing and nobody can help you...
The best devices for safety are the "dead-man" releases but for now the only way I know to make one is a device put on your bar: as long as you have one hand on your bar, it doesn't open. As soon as you remove both hands, it releases. Would you accept that ? I don't think so because you won't be able to make some tricks and probably you will oftenly release it accidentally. Another way people talk about is a QR with a line attached to your wrist. This is also a heavy constrain to your practise and personnally I think it is dangerous to wear such a leash because it can easily tangle when you fall while making loops. Really I feel myself unsafe when I sail with a board leash AND a wrist leash: too many tangle possibilities.
I have not so much time to read and reply all the news groups but if someone thinks having a good idea to improve safety, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org