As I kept swimming the kevlar lines twisted tighter and tighter around my leg. I imagined a sudden gust tightening the lines and cutting off my leg at my ankle. As the thought passed through my head, I immediately swam towards my fallen kite as fast as I could and deflated the leading edge. Now all I had to do was swim 200 meters to the shore with 16m-square of plastic connected to me. No problem.

Such events, which usually take place when your trying to kiteboard alone in a new environment, are known in the kiteboarding community as KiteMares. I’ve had a few interesting ones to say the least. Some where I didnt know the extreme danger I had escaped, till I got back to shore and then looked back at where I had been.

Kiteboarding is a sport with so many variables that I’m going to assume that unless you’ve kiteboarded in the same spot, at the same time every year then you’ve already had one of these or will have one. Kitemares are more or less bound to happen. The happen because of :

  • not knowing the weather forecast
  • using gear which is past its regular useful life. Eg: frayed lines snapping, knots in lines,
  • not knowing the area in which your kiteboarding. Eg;
  • not having properly practiced self-rescue. A lot of people dont spend enough time understanding self rescue so when they find themselves in a bad situation, they dont know what to do.
  • not having taken the time to think what you would do in a bad situation. Are you willing to let go of the kite if your life depended on it?

So what can you do to make sure that this doesnt happen to you? This is what I do:

  1. Dont go out if you the wind is faster than what your comfortable with. This bears repeating even though its common sense. Dont let peer pressure or over-confidence ruin the rest of your life.
  2. Make sure you’ve done self-rescue simulations in the water at least 3 to 4 times with a friend on shore to help. Make sure you keep repeating till you need no help from your friend to get yourself, your kite and your board to shore.
  3. Check the weather forecast for the entire time you’ll be on the water. Note the tides, the water temperature, probable gustiness of the wind, possibility of a storm hitting and the possible direction it will come from.
  4. Understand the local weather (depth at low and high tides) and lay of the land/water (submerged hazards, local currents, shallows) from the local kiteboarders/sailers/windsurfers.
  5. Kite with a buddy. This really helps if your compadre is more experienced than you and applies this to help you in your endeavor to get better.
  6. Test your safety releases before you start kiteboarding. This takes 2 minutes and could save your life.
  7. Regularly change your lines and heck lines for knots.
  8. Go over in your mind and convince yourself that the kite is replaceable but YOU are not.

Learning to kiteboard can be hard but its all in your mind. Just like everything else :) .