Kitesurfing Self Rescue Procedure
Is kitesurfing safe? This must be one of the most common questions new kite surfers ask. There was a time when kiteboarding was an extreme sport. With twenty years of development, the gear and the sport have become safe. Provided you take kiteboarding lessons and understand the safety systems on your kite. If you want to learn to kite, this is a must.
The self-rescue is the most important thing you can learn. The ability to fully depower a kitesurfing kite and safely get yourself and your kitesurfing equipment back to the shore is indispensable.
The self-rescue is a must-know skill in kitesurfing
When do I need to self-rescue in kiteboarding?
There are many situations where a self-rescue would be useful. Here are just a few examples you might encounter in power kiting.
• If you break a line.
• If the wind dies.
• If the wind gets too strong.
• If your kite is looping out of control.
• If you need to self-land the kite.
You can land your kite with a self-rescue if needed
How does a kiteboarding self-rescue work?
Your kiteboarding harness will attach to a leash. The leash connects to a flag line on your ejection system. When you deploy the ejection system the kite will lose all power and flag out. This means the kite will roll over and the pull will be on a single line attached to the leading edge of the kite. You should feel very little pull at this point. After this, there are three stages to a kiteboarding self-rescue.
Aaron McClearnon demonstrates how a kiteboarding safety system works
Let go of the kitesurfing control bar. kites are designed to fly to the edge of the wind window and lose most of their power. The kite will fall into the water. The kite should lose 99% of its power.
Release the first ejection system. Do this by pushing the release above the chicken loop away. The control bar will fly away from you and the kite will release most of the power. Now you are going to climb up the single line that is attached to your leash. Go hand over hand and never wrap the lines around your hands, don't let the line go. Tension on this line is what is keeping the kite depowered.
Kitesurfing self-rescue step two: Wrap up the lines.
When you reach the control bar grab the bar and maintain tension on the flag line with one hand. If you let this line go the kite will power back up. Take the flag line and start wrapping it in a figure-eight pattern around the line winders on the control bar. Once all the slack from that line is wrapped up you will continue to wrap up the rest of your lines in the same figure-eight pattern. This is the same procedure used to pack away your kiteboarding control bar.
While you are doing this, there will be some tension in the lines so don’t be too worried. We encourage practicing this in shallow water and light wind. You should be well-rehearsed before your first real self-rescue.
Use the kite to sail back to shore
Kitesurfing self-rescue step three: Sail or swim in.
Once you get to the kite, you have a few options. The kite floats so you can hold onto it and swim back in. You can also flip the kite over and use the wingtips to sail. Keep the leading edge facing the direction you want to go and use the lines to aim the kite to the shore. As a last measure, you can also clamp the valves on the struts down and deflate the leading edge. You could then roll the kite up around the still-inflated struts. Now you could use the kite as a raft to swim back in.
What if my kite safety system fails?
This step is an optional last resort only.
There is a second release located on your leash attached to your kite harness. With this, you can fully eject the kite. This should only be used in emergencies where you are prepared to let the kite go. For example, if the kite did not fully depower for some reason. Use some common sense here. If you are a long way from shore, it would be useful to have an inflatable kite to float on as you swim back in.
We don’t recommend fully ejecting your kite unless you absolutely must. Not only can it be an expensive loss, but you could potentially send the kite flying into someone else. All that said, if you’re in danger kiteboarding gear is replaceable. You are not.
The main situation we see this being utilized is in surf kite applications where big waves might push the rider into their lines. It is rare but things can go wrong as well. If the system jams and you are out of control, don’t be a hero. Let the kite go.
Need more help?
If you need kitesurfing lessons, feel free to reach out to book with us. We teach kitesurf lessons and wingsurfing also known as wind winging in one of the most incredible kiteboarding locations in the United States.
Give us a call with any kiteboarding-related questions and one of our experts can guide you. Remember to ask about a custom kite package for you to get started. (727) 800 2201