The combination of different factors (for example knowledge, common sense and physical fitness) are the base for safe and fun times with kiting.
Kiteboarding is mostly done with a partner or in bigger groups, which creates the need to respect and watch out for each other. Mother Nature is also to be treated with respect as well as protected with the highest priority.
Standard routine check / quick check
The following safety checks should be performed before but also during every kite session, to protect yourself and your surroundings.
For kitesurfing in safety, following main points should be verify / checked / respected:
- Personal fitness level
- Wind and Weather
- Kite Spot
- Kite Equipment
- Kite Rules
1. Personal Fitness Level
Before every kite session be sure you are ready both mentally and physically to go onto to the water to have fun and to learn efficiently. If in doubt, don’t go out!
Physical safety aspects
A fit body wull help you to master challenging situations.
To protect against sun burn
- Apply sun cream
- Stay in the shade during breaks
- Use clothing for protection (wetsuit, Lycra, Cap, etc.)
- Use Sunglasses
Eat and Drink sufficiently
Kiting will challenge yo uboth mentally and physically. Eat and drink sufficiently.
Mental safety aspects
Before to kitesurf, ask yourself following questions and check if you could replay in an affirmative way.
- Do I feel fit, active, ready?
- Can I master the conditions?
- Am I well prepared?
- Do I have doubts?
- Am I taking a safe decision about when, how long, where and how I go kiting?
NOTE: Low temperature aspects
Reasons for getting cold
- Transmission: Contact between your body and cold water and air will make it cool down.
- Wind chill: The air and waters movement will also
cool your body down (see wind chill).
- Evaporation: Wind and the sun will make water or
sweat on your body evaporate, which will also cool
your body down.
In order to stay warm, use equipment adapted to the
temperature, such as a wetsuit, drysuit, hood, shoes
The windchill, the cooling down due to moving air, will let us feel a always a colder temperature than the real one. The use of a wetsuit will reduce loss of body heat, in particular in emergency situations.
2. Wind and weather
Wind and weather conditions are almost never constant, therefore it is necessary to adapt and react to changes early and correctly. This could also mean aborting your session.
Inform yourself about the conditions and have ethe following information:
- Watch wind and weather for IO-15 minutes.
- Are there local weather phenomena (thermal winds, currents…)?
- Air and water temperatures.
- Forecasts: weather, storms, wind (strength and direction).
Acquire such information through other kiters or by researching online.
Special Wind Conditions
Don’t Kite unless you have emergency exit(s) like boat or downwind island.
Gusty wind can make your kite stall or produce unpredictable power bursts
3. Kite Spot
Besides beach and water, the air space (concerning kiteboarding) plays an important role when talking about spots.
Before to kitesurf in a kite Spot
- Inform yourself about Currents, tides, obstacles, waves, wind direction.
- Constantly check the air space in front and behind you (check the wind window around you)
- Common sense Ride safely in demanding spots, ride progressively and try new tricks at safe spots.
4. Kite Equipment
Safe kiting requires your gear to be complete and fully working.
Part of the Kite Equipment to be checked continuosly:
- Quick release OK? (Sandi)
- Lines (Depower lines, back lines, etc.).
- Safety leash.
- All screws tightened (straps, fins).
Choice of correct kite size
Especially as a beginner, it helps to rely on the experience of kite teachers, friends or experienced kite buddies.
As a more experienced kitesurfer, local clues such as flags, trees, water, wind sounds etc. can be used to make a decision about kite size.
NOTE: Experienced Kiters use their equipment in a very broad wind range, be careful to base your choice on their kite size!
5. Kite Rules
Internationally recognised water sports rules help to reduce accidents and unnecessary irritations and have thereby made kitesurfing safer and more accessible for the broad masses.
Aside from the global water sports rules which are valid for anybody operating on the water, there are some rules that are especially imponant for kitesurfers.
Water sports rules are not the same around the world and participants are not always treated the same way at different spots in regards to their rights on the water.
Therefore it is especially important to get familiar with local, national and international regulations, not only for yourself but moreover the kite community as a whole.
International regulations are guidelines that are complemented by local rules. Common sense should always be favoured over written rules.
Internationally recognised water sports rules
Are standardised rules which were set up by worldwide water sports associations. These regulations mainly deal with the avoidance of collisions and the improvement of communication between the interacting water sports parties.
These international rules define that whenever two parties meet, one has to stay on course while the other has to give way. Both kitesurfers have an obligation:
- Obligation to give way: The kitesurfer has to give way clearly and on time.
- Obligation to stay on course: The kitesurfer has to stay on course, clearly and calculable for the other person.
- Last minute manoeuvre: Should prevent collisions due to misunderstandings or wrong behaviour of one party at any cost.
To see and understand the Right of Way on Kitesurfing, read this post.
Standard Signals on Kitesurfing
- Start ok: everything is OK. – Movement/Sign: Extended arm to one side
with thumb up.
- Wait: Rider or helper signals to wait – Movement/Sign: Extended arm to the front with flat hand facing the other person.
- Abort: Rider or helper signals to abort launching process – Movement/Sign: Wave forearm horizontally in front of you from one side to the other
- Land: Rider signals to land the kite, while helper copies to confirm the sign – Movement/Sign: Lift and lower flat hand on top of your head.
- International help Signal: Used to signal an emergency situation. NEVER abuse this sign! – Movement/Sign:: Keep crossing your arms above your head and then move them far apart
- Kite nto the Zenith: Signal to move your kite into zenith – Movement/Sign: Tip yourfingers together 30 cm above your head.
- Change Direction: Signal for other kiters that you want to change your riding direction – Movement/Sign: Lift your arm and circle your fingers.
- Equipment Lost: Signal for other riders / Helpers that you have lost your equipment. – Movement/Sign: Flat Hand in Front of forehead looking to where you expect it.
- Navigate To the Left / To the Right: The helper can assist the rider to navigate safely through a reef, stones, etc. – Movement/Sign: Extend one arm to the side, while bending the other arm inwards.
Depending on the local conditions some regulations might be adapted to a certain spot. These are mostly well presented on signs on site, on the internet or at any local kite station. It is important to actively inform yourself about local regulations.
Principles which make interaction between water sports participants but also persons outside of water sports safer and easier. Mother Nature should also
always be protected through these principles.
6. Kite Safety
Through carelessness or inability, it can happen that you get into a
critical situation, or that you need to help someone out of an emergency
To resolve such situations efficiently and consciously, it is important to
prepare, by doing some mental and physical training up front.
Always be alert and ready and be sure to constantly update your emergency plan, even in perfect sessions. Keep an eye out for boats, currents, reefs, rescue systems, coastal lines, potential helpers etc.
Definition and occurrences of emergency situations
A kitesurfer is in an emergency situation when he or she is not able to act freely anymore due to mental or physical challenges.
Depending on experience, riding levels but also mental and physical preparedness every person has his or her own tolerance of stress and will therefore experience emergency situations differently. As you will want others
to respect your stress level, you should also respect theirs.
So, similar situations can be perceived very differently in their stress level.
Reacting in Emergency Situations
In emergency situations, tn/ to keep an overview of the situation, and of yourself. Recognise the full scene, then take proper and necessary actions.
The more you know about wind and weather but also kite and human physics, the more amazing and safe kite sessions you will experience.
Stay focussed and understand the consequences of your actions at all times.
Being a beginner does not release you from any duties of acting responsibly and according to the local and international rules.
As an experienced kitesurfer you are expected to meet other kiters with respect and give them a warm welcome into our kite community.
Kitesurfers help each other. Kitesurfing safely also means being there for each other.
Judging your own Performance
- The longer your session the less your concentration and physical performance will be
- Do not overestimate your power rather underestimate itl
- Choose to kite in conditions where you are sure that even in exceptional situations you dont get yourself into trouble
- ln an emergency situation if in doubt always get extra help and do not get yourself into danger too!
Safety vs Equipment loss
A kite or board can be used as a clearly visible safety device on water, however if it hinders you getting out of a dangerous situation, decide early enough to get rid of lt. Remember equipment is replaceable your health or the one of others is not! Do not endanger yourself to rescue gear.
- Always wear a harness designed for kiteboarding with
a handle at the back.
- Check your harness before every session to make
sure eveiything is functioning properly.
- Whenever holding your buddy at his or her harness,
use the handles that are made for it.
Picking up and putting down a kite
- Hold the kite firmly in the middle of the front tube.
- Use the wind to help you carry the kite. Be sure not to get tangled in the lines.
- Secure the kite with proper weight, e.g. sand, board, board bag or sand bags. This does not only protect the kite from scratches, but also keeps it from flying away. lf possible put the kite in the wind shadow.
Emergency situation: Kite out of control
A kite that is out of control is a potential danger for anybody close by, so it is necessary to act quickly:
- Signal vocally and with signs that a kite is out of control
- Try to grab the front tube f
- Deflate or secure the kite.
NOTE: Always be ready to quick release to remove any tension from the lines.