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RickI 01-08-2014 08:23 PM

USLA Lifesaving Training Officer Academy - Kiting Orientation - 2013, 2014, 2015
An overview of presentation to professional lifesavers. Ocean rescue can be hazardous even to well trained and experienced professionals, even more so to untrained but concerned individuals. You can cause harm to yourself in an effort to help others in short, such rescues shouldn't be lightly undertaken.

Lt. Jim McCrady of the USLA and Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue asked us to make a presentation on kiteboarder rescue considerations to candidates enrolled in the United States Livesaving Association (USLA) training course being held at the Breakers Resort on Palm Beach in December 2013. I was helped in putting on this presentation by Luke Svanberg and Philip Muller of Adventure Sports Ft. Lauderdale. ASFtL is a very well equipped watersports shop in Ft. Lauderdale. Adventure Sports has been committed to community and kiting events for over ten years in South Florida. They had a large turnout for the Academy including lifeguards traveling from all over as was the case last year when we gave a kiting orientation presentation on 12/12/12.
There were lifeguards in from all over!

The following summarizes some of what was conveyed in the session but certainly not all. Ocean Rescue is a hazardous business goes without saying not only for the folks in need but also for the lifeguards. Thorough training, skill development, conditioning and regular practice are key in helping to assure rescues go as we would like them to. Kiter rescues are no different and shouldn't be casually undertaken without proper training in rescue along with a thorough kiteboarding orientation to reduce the odds of problems for the one being rescued or the rescuer. The following information is provided to professional lifeguards for discussion and in no way replaces proper training in these procedures. It is strongly recommended that an actual hands on orientation be arranged with competent kiting experts to convey these skills.
The class was held at the Breakers Resort on Palm Beach. What a great five star venue for a course like this!

I updated a similar Powerpoint presentation that Gio Serrano of Safety & Rescue Training, LLC (and Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue) prepared and Neil Hutchenson formerly of Tiki Beach and I put on at a USLA National Conference in Cocoa Beach, FL in 2008. So we had a good base to work with. It was presented again at last year's USLA event at the Breakers and again this year on the beach. Previously, the orientation involved a detailed powerpoint presentation in a classroom setting followed by hands on exercises on the beach. This time it worked out to where no Powerpoint presentation was given but related concepts were discussed on the beach followed by practical exercises.

Kiteboarder rescues can be complicated by a kite which can exert high force through wind, wave and current effects, four 100 ft. sections of high strength line pulling the kiter or drifting around, submerged to tangle and possibly cut, further impacted by a potentially impaired or unresponsive kiteboarder, bystanders and still other factors.

I got in touch with Luke Svanberg, manager of Adventure Sports Ft. Lauderdale about putting on the current presentation. Luke graciously agreed to help out putting on the practical beach exercises with help from Philip Muller also from Adventure Sports dealing with kite landing, QR activation, dealing with an non-responsive kiter still attached to the kite, hands on kite flying and other considerations. Luke has done similar kiting orientation work with lifeguards in Long Island and Puerto Rico. The lifeguards were training at Boynton Beach Inlet so that is where we met them to present the kiting orientation.
The Powerpoint PPT presentation usually provided in these orientations can be downloaded from the link below.

The video clips have been removed from the Powerpoint presentation to aid in downloading but can be accessed below.

We had also talked about out of control looping kites, what they look like and the problems they can present to both the kiter and rescuers. Here is a video of a looping kite caused when two kites wrapped together. Anything that causes the kite lines to become uneven in length, often a tangle whether it be on debris, the kite, the kite control bar or the kiter himself, may result in such looping putting the kiter at significant risk of injury in some instances. The kiter may soon be unable to depower the kite due to twisting of the lines, if he becomes tangled, he may be unable to completely release the kite either. The kite will continue to pull him with varying degrees of speed and violence largely depending on wind conditions until something breaks or the kite stops moving. It can be a complex dangerous situation to safely resolve. Proper training and preparation are important in attempting to deal with this sort of situation.
The lifeguards underwent training involving jumping into the Inlet at peak outgoing tide. They later jumped off the inlet bridge to ride the current out into the ocean. I joined in with two GoPros to capture the jumps on the way down. It was a fun experience. We started the orientation right on the beach after swimming back into shore.
We started out with a general discussion of lifeguard interactions with kiters, how to evaluate if a kiter is in need of rescue or is in the process of rescuing himself.

There is a good reference on this subject, "Kiter In Need Of Rescue?" in the pdf link at the bottom of this post.
We then went into training on how to perform an assisted kite landing. With an able bodied kiter landing on a beach within a swim zone, it seems prudent to have the kiter land, secure his gear and walk out as opposed to riding out if indicated by local regulations or policy. This may mean the lifeguard may need to aid the kiter in landing his kite.
Catching at kite at this position allows the best control and grabbing it at other locations can lead to problems for both the catcher and kiter.
Going over the correct position to hold a kite during an assisted landing or near the center of the leading edge, holding on tight and NOT letting go.
We went over securing a kite, releasing it from the kiter or otherwise stabilizing that aspect so that attention can be safely focused on the victim.

While Luke was working with assisted landings, Philipe was given the lifeguards hands on experience flying a scaled down trainer kite to provide a personal feel for it.
A lifeguard related an actual kiter rescue in adverse conditions the evening before off Palm Beach.
Swimming back after video'ing Jim McCrady while jumping off the bridge.

Thanks to Lt. Jim McCrady for inviting us to speak, to Luke Svanberg of Adventure Sports Ft. Lauderdale for presenting, Gio Serrano for preparing the original Powerpoint presentation. It is important to note that both Gio and Luke can provide hands on lifeguard orientations to kiter rescue. Their contact information appears below:
Luke Svanberg is manager of this large South Florida watersports retailer location in Ft. Lauderdale. Luke is also a long term kiteboarding instructor with experience in providing orientations to ocean rescue squads.
Gio Serrano offers professional training across a broad range of topics to lifeguards and first responders through Safety & Rescue Training, LLC. The level of complexity and information these live saving professionals are required to known is impressive. He is also an active kiteboarder in addition to being a Lieutenant with Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue.
The Academy participants
One of many photos from a nice ten mile sunset roundwinder kiting session off the coast here.

More images at:

A Exmouth Kite Rescue Photo Sequence from the RNLI in the UK


"Kiteboarder in need of rescue?"

RickI 01-08-2014 11:02 PM

In addition to the kiting orientation described above, here is a video from that day at Boynton Beach Inlet with lifeguards flying
off the bridge and working on kiting interactions on the beach.

Most of the images were shot with GoPro Hero3+ cameras. I used a Quikpod Monopod for perspective shooting including from directly
over head of the jumping lifeguards. When I went off the bridge following lifeguards down, I hand held one GoPro shooting in burst mode
with another in a chest mount shooting video at the same time.


Some still shots of lifeguards jumping off the inlet bridge into a ripping outgoing tide.
Jumping off the bridge to follow Jim McCrady down while shooting with a GoPro Hero 3+ in burst mode to capture a sequence of images
of our fast drop to the water.

Repeating the jump, this time following lifeguard Pedro Prieto down.


RickI 12-17-2014 10:14 PM

It happens again tomorrow! Should be fun, stay tuned for photos and story.

RickI 12-11-2015 10:05 AM

The annual USLA Lifesaving Training Officer Academy is on and we will provide an orientation to kitesurfing, some of the basics, interacting with kiters, emergency scenarios as in past years. Big thanks to Paula and Kent for your excellent help in making this happen yet again and to Luke for all the past years! A lot of this should be common knowledge to kiters to help avoid problems, so please look over information and videos at the following link.


RickI 12-21-2015 05:02 PM

The latest update of the Powerpoint presentation for life saving professionals can be found at:

less the embedded videos which can be found below:

The video clips have been removed from the Powerpoint presentation to aid in downloading but can be accessed below.

An able bodied kiter with knowledge of the procedures will configure his gear to self-rescue, using his kite as a sail to pull him into shore or to pack down the kite (or not, leaving the kite inflated), to facilitate swimming the lot in. This may be a slow process particularly for a lifeguard on the beach trying to figure things out with binoculars. The following video shows some self-rescue techniques close up to aid in the familiarization with what is involved and to help interpretation of actions observed offshore from the beach.

It is a good idea to have hook knives on rescue craft and in stands near kiteboarding launch/landing areas in case it proves necessary to cut the lines to a kite in an emergency. The following hook knife was developed for paragliding but works well with kite lines. This is just one source of hook knives there are many out there.

RickI 12-18-2019 11:41 AM

The latest Powerpoint file for the Training Officer Academy being held this week. We do the orientation to kiteboarding tomorrow.


admin 10-29-2020 08:34 PM

Gio Serrano and I put on a water safety presentation at a conference in Ft. Lauderdale using the following Power Point presentation:

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