Inevitably, you are going to have a “kitemare”. I hate to say it, but it’s most likely going to happen. Over 14 years of kiteboarding have lead me to about an equal amount of mishaps on the water (OK, it’s probably significantly more). While my risk tolerance might be a bit higher than most, I know that even the safest and most tentative of kiteboarders will inevitably run into an issue on the water. While we can do everything right, sometimes things just happen. It’s almost like a right of passage for a kiteboarder. Not necessarily to have an experience on the water that is life threatening, but certainly to have an experience that will get some extra blood pumping through your vein.
That said, almost every accident I had was avoidable. Some things like a line snapping, or kite deflating, or a crazy kook smashing their kite into me – these scenarios I had less control over. However, here is a quick list of things that were certainly avoidable. Let me share some mishaps with you:
- Wearing a Dry Suit in the Ocean (yea, don’t do that, I was an idiot)
- Launching kites in wind shadows, causing my kites to get wrapped around trees. (just launch in a safe spot, it’s worth it)
- Wearing boots that had hockey laces (make sure you can get in and out of them)
- Releasing my kite when I got tangled with another kiter (don’t panic, I’ll cover this)
- Swimming after my kite (guess what, you’ll never catch it)
- Having a safety leash that used a snap shackle release attached the harness (if your kite starts death looping, you will never be able to release this)
- Permanently knotting up my bar because I didn’t follow the rules of how to untangle lines
To get out of most of these scenarios, you simply just do a self rescue. Flag out your kite, wrap up your bar properly and get home safe!
If you are sitting around and wondering “How do I self rescue?” or “What is the flagging line?” – you should 100% go out to the beach and practice these safety techniques as they can help you avoid an accident and will build your confidence on the water!
The biggest mistake I have seen in self rescuing is line management. Have you ever gone to the beach and seen someone with a bar that’s all tangled up? It looks a lot like a spaghetti salad. A cruel puzzle of lines that looks like it could never be undone.
A lot of times when we self rescue, or use our safety system, it is because we are panicked and don’t know what to do. This is extremely normal as things can get scary out on the water. Whenever you are using a safety system, you can follow these quick steps to ensure that you manage yourself and your lines in the most efficient way.
- Don’t Panic. I think this is a line from Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. When you panic, you make some quick and rash decisions. It is important to remember to stay calm and that most problems you face on the water don’t require and absolute immediate action.
- After you’ve hit your Quick Release, take a second to analyze the scenario. If everything looks fine, make sure you are conscious of where your lines are at. Don’t simply ignore your lines as this is what can lead to that Spaghetti Salad scenario.
- Wrap up the flagging line on the BACK SIDE of the bar. You should wrap up X amount of meters of lines before wrapping up ALL the lines.. X = the size of your kite. Does this make sense? The idea of a flagging line is that all other lines have no tension on them. If you wrap up your flagging BEFORE wrapping up your other lines, your kite will never be able to gain tension and power up!
- After you’ve wrapped up X amount of the flagging line on the BACK SIDE of the bar, continue to wrap up the rest of the lines, figuring 8 style, around the TOP of the bar. By the time you get to your kite, you should have a nicely wrapped up bar. With two figure 8 patterns.
- At the beach, try to reverse what you just did. Unwrapping all 4 lines, then unwrapping the flagging line. This will ensure that you have the least amount of effort to get your bar back in order.
- If you get tangled with another kiter, wait before releasing your safety system. If one of the kites starts looping and pulling you in a scary way, then of course hit that release ASAP! One of the biggest mistakes people make in a tangle is hitting the release too quickly. A lot of times you can undo the tangle by simply analyzing the problem and working backwards. When you undo the tangle by either swimming through the lines you just came through or juggling the bar, you can feel like a hero and continue the epic times on the water.
That’s the summary of some basic line management! I find that our friends at REAL Watersports have covered this is a really easy to follow video and you can check it out right here:
Be sure to let us know if you’ve found this helpful at all!