Self rescue is an essential skill for kitesurfing safely.
Sometimes things get out of hand. This situation can occur for example when:
- The wind picks up beyond your capacity to handle it with your kite, or
- Equipment failure – a broken pulley, line or kite.
The following 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!
- Depower: Get as much depower as possible. This will typically involve taking all the tension out of the back two steering lines. If applicable to your kite, throw the bar and release the kite to its safety line.
- Regain your bar: De-powering typically involves letting go of your bar or activating a de-power mechanism. You must swim up to the bar to regain it.
- Tidy up loose lines: To be sure that tension remains out of the rear lines, wind in the middle leading edge lines onto the bar.
- Secure your board (optional). Remove the board from your feet and secure it to your body to leave you free in the water. You can use your safety leash by detaching it then threading it through the board foostraps or handle and clipping it back to itself. Or you can carry another leash. This step could be done prior to step 1 depending upon personal preference.
- Regain your kite: Wind in all remaining lines onto your bar. In light winds you can wind them onto the bar as if you are packing up at the end of a session. In stronger winds wrapping the lines around one bar end (rather than end to end) is the easiest as end to end wrapping can be very difficult in 30+ knot winds. This will take you up to the kite.
- Ride the kite into shore. You can lift a wing tip and use it to “sail you” in the desired direction. You can also invert the kite and sit on the leading edge with your feet dangling over.
- If you can’t get back to shore and you are on a surfboard. You can deflate the kite and bundle it up, rotate your harness hook out of the way (waist harness), then paddle the board in.
If you are having trouble executing any of these steps, it may be time to bail out completely. Keep in mind this is a last ditch option, as a kite flying or floating by itself is a recipe for trouble – injured bystanders and power line catastrophes can and do occur.
To bail out completely: Deploy the safety release on your safety leash to completely release the kite. Swim in with your board and check for collateral damage.
Kite lines can cause serious injuries if they wrap around any part of you and get powered up by the kite. Keep clear of the lines during self rescue, paying particular attention to your legs if you are swimming after the kite.
In stronger winds wrapping the lines around one bar end (rather than end to end) is the easiest as end to end wrapping can be very difficult in 30+ knot winds.
Once back on the shore, keeping your lines connected to the kite while untangling them may help as the kite can provide some tension to the lines. You might need to disconnect lines to thread them through bad tangles though.
Looking for a lost board
If you lose your board after a stack and are having trouble finding it, pull on some power to get lifted out of the water then have a look around for it. If you are looking for a buddy’s lost board, do a jump to have a look around from above. Its much easier to spot a board with a bit of height.