Kitesurfing Safety & Responsibly
Kitesurfing safely and responsibly while learning to kiteboard or even after you are experienced is important not only for you as a rider, but also for all those around you. No matter how experienced or how new you are to the sport, the important part about kiteboarding safety is that you always make it back to the beach so you can ride another day. And you protect others so they are also able to do the same.
No matter the conditions, focusing on kitesurfing safety and making the thought process conscious will keep you aware of your surroundings and will help you ask the critical questions about how what you are doing will affect you and those around you. Having a respect for the power of the kite in the wind isn’t the mark of weakness, but of strength.
The reason riders can jump 30+ feet is because there is a serious amount of power backing the kite. Pay attention to what’s happening around you. Kiteboarding requires serious mental energy and focus as so much is happening at the same time. Be conservative at all times when it comes to anticipating the wind, the kite and how it relates to others who are near you. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help keep your mind focused on safety:
Kitesurfing Safety Questions
- Am I setting up the kite in a safe area?
- What potential hazards are there around me (people, buildings, trees, other obstacles)?
- Is there enough room to launch safely?
- Am I laying the kite and lines out at the proper downwind direction?
- What can I do to be even safer?
- Are their obstacles at least two kite lengths downwind of me I need to be aware of?
- Do I know all the hand signals to launching and landing my kite or others?
Knowing your limits and developing a solid plan about what options you have will help keep you safe. Expecting to be rescued is not always an available option and shouldn’t be used as a part of your plan on staying safe. Being self-sufficient and responsible is a vital part of being safe. Here are a few additional tips on how to stay safe:
Kitesurfing Safety & Responsibly Tips
- Stay “low and go”: When first launching the kite from the beach, keep it low at the edge of the wind window (neutral position) while you make your way out to the water.
- Don’t launch into the wind. Use an experienced helper to get you launched. Don’t assume your friend knows when to hold the kite and when to let it go. Use hand signals that have been explained thoroughly to whoever is assisting you.
- As a beginner, don’t dive the kite too fast for the first time. It’s ok to drag a bit to get a feel for how the kite will pull. Once you have an idea of what the kite will do based on the conditions, bring it over slightly beyond the midway point on the opposite side of direction you’ll be going, then dive the kite. Visualize this movement in your mind along with the subsequent recovery (pulling the kite out of the dive before it hits the water). See this play out in your mind and practice the movements in your arms before going into the water.
- Keep your speed tempered. Losing control due to excessive speed can be a costly mistake. When in doubt, bring the kite overhead to neutral and retry. Err on the side of caution. This is a precursor for starting to go upwind as well, so don’t hesitate to edge harder and turn upwind if there’s room.
- Don’t get distracted. This is easier said than done, but there will be enough adrenaline in your system to keep you focused and sharp as long as you’re paying attention. Some mental rehearsal will help with this as well. See yourself going through the motions and practice the movements with your trainer kite before you ever get into the water.
These are only a few kitesufing safety tips. The most important thing is to use good judgement and common sense. Don’t hesitate to get advice from some of the more seasoned riders on whether the day is right for the conditions and your kite size and experience level. Kiteboarding is only fun when all the riders come back safely. It’s your responsibility, so do a good knowing and practing of kitesurfing safety.