So, after about a year and a half of on-and-off kitesurfing (I still don't get out nearly as much as I'd like, but I'm getting better), I had a couple of firsts today.
1) The QR on my '08 Crossbow released by accident. No idea how... I had a fairly ordinary wipeout because of a poorly judged landing, lost my grip on the bar, and it was gone - flagged on one front line. Shit happens, I guess. So...
2) I had to self rescue for real, from 600m offshore, on the wrong side of the reef... after always being able to relaunch the kite. Sure, I'd tried self rescue, but not this far out, not in a sizeable swell, and not with this particular kite.
Anyway, I thought I'd share what I learned. I'm sure that there are a lot of folks reading this who were the same as I was this morning... either have never self rescued, or have only practiced in reasonably calm water, within 50m of the beach.
a) Wrapping up the lines: I didn't. I pulled myself up one line to the kite, grabbed the kite, then hauled in the rats nest of lines as best I could. This got me to the kite quicker than wrapping up the lines on the bar. If I hadn't done this, the current might have taken me off the end of the beach, at which point I'd have a few k's of surfy rocks to land on before the big cruise over to Grenada. F*** that.
b) Holding the tips of the kite and using it as a sail didn't work... the kite folded, making it into a useless wet rag. But, following a bit of yelled advice from another, more competent kiter, I pulled myself up the LE to get a little closer to the middle (still holding the line to the "upper" tip), resting my torso on the lower end of the LE. I pulled the upper line, et voila... the kite billowed into a nice sail, and the buoyancy of the section of LE underneath me made staying afloat even easier. Result!
c) Board recovery. I have no idea how I'd have recovered the board if one of the guys hadn't grabbed it and dumped it on the beach for me. This is the case for board leashes, I guess (they still suck, incidentally). Kites cost more than most boards, and kites help you get back to land. Ergo, staying in contact with the kite is more important. Keeping a short length of chord on the harness might be the answer, at the cost of weighing yourself down with extra stuff.
d) Getting back through the surf. Every time a wave went over me, I eased off my hold on the upper wingtip, letting the wave break over the kite without stressing the canopy too much. Any other tips for next time?
Anyhow, no drama... I was lucky to be on a beach where the locals look out for the occasional token kook (guys, thanks for the help and advice... next time I might just accept the offer of a tow)! I'm certainly glad that I've self-rescued for real - sure makes crashing the kite less of a worry.