Last weekend, we had a couple of serious kitesurfing accidents in Miami, FL
that I recently heard about and wanted to pass on. The two incidents had
some common characteristics both to each other and unfortunately to other
accidents at these launches in the past. They both involved kitesurfers
being lofted into hard objects during kite launch while still onshore in
gusty onshore wind conditions. Both kitesurfers were from out of town, a
woman from California and a man from another country. The woman had her
accident at a beach where two riders were lofted into cars under very
similar conditions within the last six months. One of those other riders
was taken to the hospital due to injuries sustained and the other walked
away, after doing over $1000. USD in damage to the parked car. For more info
on these past accidents checkout:
Incident # 7 01 1 at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/ ... Database/K
The woman had just launched her kite and was then reportedly lofted skyward
and fell down into some timber poles driven into the ground at Hobie Beach.
She was reportedly bleeding from the mouth when she was transported to the
hospital. She was subsequently treated and released from the hospital.
The man was also lofted during launch and was also flown inland into a hard
landing narrowly missing more of the same type of timber poles at Virginia
Key Beach. I understand that his injuries may have also justified a trip to
the hospital but he declined as he was planning on flying out the next day.
As I understand it, neither rider was wearing a helmet or impact vest.
So what?! Both of these launches are technical, intermedite to advanced
launches because of:
1) Close hard obstructions, e.g. cars, trees, posts and at at one launch,
large rock groins and at the other an adjoining highway.
2) The demands of the launches are even greater in onshore winds as the
lofting potential into hard objects goes way up.
3) The past history of serious accidents.
As a result Virginia Key Beach may soon have a kitesurfing ban (which has
long been threatened) and Hobie Beach has new, fortunately logical
I understand that two kites were released into the four lane highway at
Hobie Beach over the weekend, making the number at least five runaway kites
in recent months to go into the highway. Any of these kites could have
caused a very serious car accident in a highway. We need to get
responsible about safety and leash use or the regulators will force us to be
or more likely just ban kitesurfing in this accident prone areas.
The reality is that beginner and novice kitesurfers go off both of these
sites frequently, because:
a. They don't know any better, it's a beach with water, wind and other
kitesurfers so lets have at it; or
b. They ignore good, well intended advice to go to some place
safer to practice.
Again, so what?! We are going to repeat history and accidents until someone
dies in one of these incidents unless we learn from all this and effectively
spread the lessons on. I am sure that these conditions of onshore winds
with nearby hard objects are relatively common worldwide and accordingly the
accident potential is also high. In reality any of the injured parties if
they had hit head first they could have died. The accidents could have been
avoided by not placing the kites in or near neutral following launching and
in the woman's case launching well offshore from the shallows with
assistance. Better still they could have been avoided by the riders going
to easier and safer launch areas. Finally, even experienced riders and particularly new riders need to accept that the risk of accident and injury goes up substantially with onshore winds and for that reason may be worth avoiding. In the case of beginning kitesurfers I would say in the sense of self preservation and the maintenance of kitesurfing access for everyone, onshore winds should be avoided.
This new sport is aging a bit, the regulators are paying closer attention
and the rider and accident counts are rising. Good communication and common
safety practices would help a great deal in helping to assure rider safety
and continued kitesurfing access. The work of instructors and kitesurfing
associations is laid out but until they are more common and having effect, it is up to the
kitesurfers at large to look out for their own.