Archive for the ‘ Kiteboarding Attitude ’ Category

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 :) .

How dangerous is kitesurfing?

upsidedownkiter
Image credit: Christopher.

Kitesurfing, in most situations, is a safe sport. Having said that, its not possible to predict the weather and calm situations can become dangerous very quickly. And if your not careful, yes it can kill you. But so can snowboarding, diving, whitewater kayaking and other extreme sports. Extreme sports are named as such because of that inherent danger. And that inherent danger part of the reason why its so much fun :) .

By following a few rules you can make kitesurfing (kiteboarding) as safe as windsurfing in my opinion.

Some of the rules that I think beginners should follow:

1. Check the weather forecast beforehand and at the beach to get an idea of how windy its going to be during your whole session. If its blowing 22 or more then do NOT GO OUT. Literally, do not go out on to the water if your feeling even a little scared. Wait till you get better at the sport. And if its below 13 then dont go out because all you will do is drop the kite in the water and then have to self rescue as relaunching a kite in light wind is very difficult to do.

2. Check your chicken-loop’s safety release everytime before you go out. And always wear a leash so that your kite is always attached to you even after you pull your chicken loop’s quick release.

3. Always kite with a friend.

4. Write your name and address and phone number on your kite and board so that if you ditch your kite and board then rescue personell can try to contact you before they launch a rescue.

5. DO NOT use a board leash. Google for “board leash injuries to understand why”.

6. Wear a helmet and a PFD/impact vest.

7. Get in shape. Being in shape will give you the stamina and strength to get out of messy situations while kiteboarding. Most injuries happen when you get tired on the water. Workout so you can minimize this happening to you.

Happy Winds,
Vivek

bad_waterstartImage credit: Smudge 9000.

You’ve been taking lessons for kiteboarding and your finding it hard to water start. Your now at the point where you are thinking of just giving up.Well DONT!

In 90% of the cases that I’ve seen, the reason someone has not been able to waterstart is due to external factors. ITS REALLY NOT YOU.

Kiteboarding, especially in the beginning stages, depends a huge number of variables. If some of these variables are out of whack from what they should be then it makes kiteboarding much more difficult.  Try to get a beginner lesson when the conditions are:

  1. Wind speed should be between 14mph and 21mph. Any more and you will get blown off the board.
  2. Wind direction should be side shore or side on-shore.
  3. No or little chop in the water. The more choppy the water, the more difficult it will be to put the board on while keeping the kite in its zenith position.
  4. You should have the newest LEI kite available either of that same seasons model or the next seasons model.
  5. You should have a nice wide board which will make it easier to balance once your up and going. A handle in the middle of the board also makes it easier to hold while your trying to balance the kite.
  6. The instructor should be near you preferably on a jet ski. In Maui, Hawaii this is not possible due to the beach laws but in any case learning in Hawaii is hard and not recommended for a beginner. If the instructor is on a jet ski then this also means that you dont have to keep going back upwind via the beach. This will give you more time to practice your waterstart.
  7. No current in the water. If there is a current in the water then this will either “add” to the power of the wind or “take away” from the power of the wind depending on whether the current is in the same direction as the wind on not. This essentially will confuse a beginner.

Now, its in the interest of an instructor and the lesson provider to always make you take the lesson. So you have to be steadfast when telling them that you dont think the conditions are conducive to learning. This has happened to me on one ocassion in Hawaii where I was taken to a lesson even though the wind was whipping 25 with huge chop (it was winter). I lost like $150 because the instructor egged me to take the lesson. I accept that it was my fault in not being steadfast but I was a beginner so what the hell did I know? :)

If this helps even one other beginner from the same scenario I’ll be very happy. :)
If your thinking of taking a lesson you might want to review my 7 Things To Do Before A Kiteboarding Lesson.