This is very unfortunate, and my sympathy goes out to his family and his friends. I did not know him but I am saddened as the incident hits home for me. I would like to share a few thoughts on winter kiting with you.
My name is Mike Alpert, and if you don't know the story already, it was 3 years ago that I was lost at sea under similar circumstances. Kiting at the last few hours of the day in Dec. with a Nor'Easter due in the evening. Long story short, it was a broken line that dissabled the kite and my ability to get back to shore, strong currents thwarted any attempt to drag in behind my buddies. With dusk quickly approaching, I told them to get back to shore and call for a coast guard rescue. Well, with it now being completely dark, no moon, 50 kt winds, it was not expected to be found, especially when you're dressed like a ninja. I spent 6 1/2 hours in the ocean before I made it back to shore myself, and another 5 hours walking along desolate shoreline before reaching a phone.
So, as a survivor of similar circumstances, I offer this advice:
1. In the winter, stick to the harbor if you can.
2. THE COAST GUARD WILL EXHAUST ALL RESOURCES AND ENERGY TO FIND YOU, but for god's sake do something to make it easier for them. Put reflective tape on your suit., you can go down their and they will give you reflective tape for your suit. A blinking light, a mini lipstick size flair, MOB watch, something is better than nothing. AT ONE POINT THE HELLICOPTER FLEW RIGHT OVER ME AND I THOUGHT I WAS FOUND, IN FACT, I WAS RIGHT IN THEIR LIGHT, BUT THEY DIDN'T SEE ME.
3. Ditch the kite and swim in, If your too far from shore to swim in, do your best to hang on to the kite. Asside from floatation advantages, it's big and easier to see. I let go of mine, and my board, and sure enough, those things they found, me they didn't.
4. Finally, and this is my own personal feeling, having worn both, I believe that a 5mil wetsuit will keep you alive longer than a drysuit. The wetsuit uses the elements in your favor, the drysuit just fights it off. You can urinate in your wetsuit and that will help you stay warm, the drysuit does not offer this advantage. Like I said, my opinion from personal experience.
After every unfortunate incident and kitemare, there are the shoulda, coulda, woulda, statements, the tips and advice that may have prevented the unfortunate incident, but the undeniable fact is that all these situations have a common difference, the person. We all handle things differently when faced with such a situation and what could be our demise. So with that, I offer this (again, from personal experience):
***We as humans don't know a %^ing thing about the future, anthing is possible regardless of how convinced we are otherwise, which means take everything you know and are absolutely sure about, and accept the fact that you can be completely 100% wrong.
***Give yourself credit for being stronger than you think you are
***Don't give in, live as long as you can despite what you think the outcome will be.
I was certain I was going to die out there, 100%. and I was ready to close my eyes and sleep and have it be a peaceful ending. But then I thought, this is all I got and if this is the end of my life then I'm going to see it through to the end and not deny myself any of the precious few minutes that I have left. That meant being concious for the end. Yet with everything I "knew" here I am.
I don't wish this experience on anyone, but if if anyone does find themselves in such a predicament, I hope reading this helps in some way.