Kiteboarding Safety ABC

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  • Avoid: swimmers, bystanders; road/water&air traffic areas; flying kite in the zenith on/near the shore.
  • Beware of: powerlines!, storms!, squalls!, offshore wind!, sharp and hard objects!, currents!, kiteboarding all alone!
  • Consider: weather conditions/forecast, physical condition, state of mind, adequate abilities, adequate gear and clothing, local restrictions and local particularities, letting friends know where you are going, launching unhooked.
  • Deescalate incidents endangering free kiteboarding.
  • Expect the unexpected


  • 1. Test your kite setups and safety system in underpowered conditions when launching a new, resold or modified kite.
  • 2. Make sure your kite safety system really provides safety to you and others on every launch.
  • 3. Be aware of the weak points in your system and avoid situations provoking malfunction.
  • 4. Get informed on occasions - you may need to upgrade your safety system.

Go back to stage 1.


Q: Why the wind seems stronger on one tack and feels "better" than on the other?

Here are all factors that will explain that phenomenon.


The wind is shifting back and forth (oscillation) and it continually changes direction and speed with height (wind shear) ! And so the wind gusts that represent the undisturbed wind direction from the mid troposphere are coming more from one side. The kite is sinusing much worse on one tack when luffing because the wind is blowing at a smaller angle just above the water slowed down by the surface of the water AND of the shore. Additionally various kinds of air stratification complicates your kite's behavior.

Stable air stratification is when air temperature horizontal distribution is not allowing for its vertical displacement, esp. when water is much cooler than the air. In that case air parcels are not mixing well above the ground building stratified layers and there are even more significant differences in wind speed and direction in different heights (wind shear). On one tack the waves are coming more from fore, on the other tack they are coming more from the side or aft and so one tack feels better, it is apparently faster and easier to handle than the other tack. Unstable air produces a steadier pull to the kite in all heights due to a better mixing of air parcels.

To figure out which type of air you are dealing with and what your response should be it is best to fly the kite close to the shore for a few minutes before you go for a ride.

Additionally the wind and wave directions are rarely parallel. The waves are turning towards the shore or actually towards the line of the same depth as they get in touch with the bottom (depending on their height). It will very possibly add to more discomfort.

Save your energy by adjusting to the real conditions on the water!

Additionally there are body and mind factors described by MadMick and Fo and so additional factors are:


Humans aren't perfectly both-handed and so a feeling of unsettledness on one tack.

3. GEAR (Imperfect SYMMETRY):

More frequent and significant than we tend to recognize, esp in combination with the factors mentioned above, like say on a bad tack and after a disadvantaging shift.

Q: Why consider launching unhooked when you can only depower when hooked in???

A: A problem occurs when wind or wind gust gets stronger than your kite´s depower range.

Now imagine some hard objects or even people downwind that "somehow materialized" while you were struggling to make it to the water and imagine what can happen if you finally got overpowered...

You can suddenly get lofted or knocked over!!!

Your safety release would be the last resort.

How sure can you be that you can deploy it in emergency ???

Q: How to avoid lofting???

A: Thats an easy one...don't fly your kite in the zenith!