Safety and rules
A good knowledge of safety and rules is essential skill for kitesurfing safely, and for the future of the sport.
Staying safe means you will enjoy your kitesurfing and avoid accidents and injury.
Do not learn to fly a full size kitesurfing kite on a beach or any other land – this is the most dangerous place to fly your kite. If you are a novice, take lessons and head out into the water at a safe location to learn.
- Regularly check your safety releases by releasing them with no kite attached.
- Don’t ever use a board leash (except possibly in large surf for experienced riders). Learn to body drag upwind to recover a lost board.
- Practice and be proficient at self rescue before you really need to use it.
- Avoid going out in conditions above your ability. Until you have at least 30 hours on the water, 15 knots is the maximum wind you should go out in. If in doubt, don’t go out.
- Avoid storm fronts/bad weather altogether. Why take a chance?
- Carefully consider other beach goers when you launch and land your kite. Keep a safe distance from them.
- Get another kitesurfer to launch and land your kite if they are around. Do not allow an unskilled onlooker to attempt to launch or land your kite.
- Exercise great caution when landing your kite, especially in gusty conditions.
- Make sure you use the correct kite size for your weight and the wind strength.
- Don’t jump in shallow water, near other kiters or near objects.
- Depower your kite before you get overpowered. It can be very difficult to depower a kite once it is overpowered. Grab the front lines to take the pressure off, then reset the depower adjustment.
- Keep away from boats, piers, groynes, buoys and other objects.
- Watch out carefully for shallow water. Hitting a sand bank just covered by flat water at speed can be catastrophic.
- If you lose your board, report this to local authorities to avoid them commencing a search for you.
- Avoid kiting alone. Get a kitesurfing buddy to share the fun with, and/or kitesurf at locations where there are other kitesurfers about.
- Assess local hazards and take steps to avoid them.
- Follow CLEAR guidelines.
- Never touch or grab kite lines when they are under tension.
- Never use the kite as a flying device – despite what videos you may see on YouTube.
- Secure your kite on the beach leading edge down with sand on either side of the main strut – or use a plastic or cloth bag full of sand.
- Secure your possessions on the beach too. Kite bags and other gear have been blown out to sea by gusts on many occasions.
- Do not lend your gear to someone who had no instruction on kitesurfing.
- Let someone know before you go. Tell them where you are kiting and when you expect to get back. You can also send them your Trip Intentions online.
If you see other kiters doing something unsafe, tell them. You might save a life or avoid a serious injury occurring. Better safe than sorry.
Lock your car key in a key safe secured to your car, rather than leaving it in a kite bag on the beach. Cars are sometimes broken into or stolen at kiting locations, and bags are sometimes pinched too.
Know and follow the rules
- A kitesurfer is classified as a “sailing vessel” in many countries and therefore must comply with relevant marine regulations such as right of way rules, clearance rules and avoid no go zones.
- Check up and learn safety regulations and right of way rules, and follow them. Use kitesurfing hand signals.
- Don’t ever assume you have right of way or insist on taking it – the other kitesurfer or vessel may know that or may not be looking.
- Know the clearance and zone rules and abide by them.
- Always use a safety leash, and connect it to the right spot
- Wear a buoyancy vest that provides some impact protection
- Wear a helmet
- Carry a line knife and practice retrieving it from your harness and using it. They can rust.
- Carry an EPIRB and a mobile phone in a waterproof case if kitesurfing more than 1 mile (2km) offshore or in a remote location
- Be familiar with the setup and use of your particular safety systems, which vary between manufacturers and kite models. Read your kite manual carefully before trying out a new kite. If you buy a second hand kite, get a copy of the manual for it.
- Make sure all control system and lines are rigged according to the instructions for your kite and control system model
- Never permanently connect yourself to the kite, control bar or lines
- Make sure your gear is well maintained.
Write your name and telephone number on your board and kite. If you lose either, they may be returned to you by someone who finds them.
Conduct a routine pre-flight safety check
Do a quick safety check just before you start kiting. Check in sequence:
- Chicken loop attached with donkey dick in place
- Helmet on
- Safety leash connected
- With the kite held ready for launch – check lines are not twisted and are correctly connected
- Signal OK to launch
Self rescue: what to do if you lose control of your kite
Sometimes things get out of hand. This situation can occur when:
- The wind picks up beyond your capacity to handle it with your kite, or
- Equipment failure – a broken pulley, line or kite.
The self rescue technique is the best way to keep yourself off the front page of the news. If you kite long enough, you will need to know this!
If you are having trouble with self rescue, it may be time to bail out completely. Keep in mind this is a last ditch option, as a kite flying by itself is a recipe for trouble – injured bystanders and power line catastrophes can and do occur.
To Bail out: Release the safety line from your leash. Swim in with your board and check for collateral damage.
Clearance rules and kiting zones
No Go zones
Rescues and handling kites
Surviving the Death Loop