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Old 09-10-2004, 04:30 PM
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Default Kitesurfing Safety Information Year 2001 - Vers. 6_26_02

TERMS OF USE: Access to and use of this information is restricted. This resource is intended for the reading and private use by KITEBOARDERS ONLY to improve safety. Use by other parties for any other purpose or reproduction of portions or the entirety of this copyrighted document by ANY PARTY, is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given by the owner. In proceeding below to review this document, the user fully agrees to comply with these restrictions.

















KITEBOARDING SAFETY INFORMATION (KSI) - June 26, 2002
Introduction
This collection of reported but largely unconfirmed kiteboarding accidents and incidents has been prepared with the goal of improving kiteboarding safety. It is intended to spread the lessons learned from these accounts. The accuracy of most of these accounts is not verified and as such they should not be considered so. Ideally, the reader should view these accounts as describing potential credible scenarios that could lead to injury. The rider should gather ideas and perspective on how to avoid similar accidents and incidents. Kiteboarding is a new and rapidly growing sport. Safety concepts and knowledge are still being learned and spread. It is a goal of this resource to aid that process where possible.
It is important to put the frequency of these reported accident and incident accounts in perspective. These few dozen reported incidents generally represent the extremes in this sport. They do not represent the perceived normal rider experience. All accounts over a three year period. Estimates vary, but in that three years roughly ten million or more hours may have been spent by riders kiteboarding worldwide. Surveys are in progress but for now this is a rough estimate. The vast majority of these hours are perceived as having been free from serious incidents or injury. These scenarios represent incidents that reportedly happened to a minority of riders and should not be taken as "normal" by any means. Similar statistics for verified bicycle, aircraft or automobile accidents would be vastly more shocking in terms of the high numbers of victims per year and dramatic injuries worldwide. This resource has been prepared to raise the state of awareness and to avoid accidents. The point is that these reported accidents and incidents could potentially occur to any rider in conditions similar to those described. As such, kiteboarding should be viewed as a potentially dangerous, extreme sport that deserves careful training, practice, preparation and judgment to be safely enjoyed. With the expansion of knowledge, use of appropriate caution and adoption of better safety and riding procedures these risks should be reduced substantially. We are all still learning about this sport and the hazards that may be out there.
Often the difference between a safe kiteboarding session or an injurious one is prior knowledge, appropriate safety gear, practice of procedures to avoid problems and careful, informed judgment. This resource is intended for the downloading, reading and private use of kiteboarders only. Use by other parties for any other purpose is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given. This document is protected by copyright and reproduction of this document or portions thereof is prohibited without prior written approval of the owner.
Kiteboarding when undertaken in a responsible, informed fashion with proper professional training and preparation may be safer than other popular sports such as hang gliding, off-piste skiing, mixed gas scuba diving and many other pursuits. The preparation of this collection of stories is to improve common knowledge, awareness of threats to safety and questionable riding practices. The following examples will hopefully illustrate the potential costs of poor practices and judgment.
I want to express sincere thanks to Brett Gibson, founder of the Mid-Atlantic Kitesurfing Association, for proof reading and helping to revise this document. Also, I want to thank all the riders that have provided input that resulted in the creation of this resource. Constructive comments, suggestions, alternative views, credible eyewitness and particularly participant account information are always welcome and should be emailed to flkitesurfer@hotmail.com.

Table Of Contents Page
Introduction .................................................. ............................... 2
Table of Contents .................................................. ..................... 3
Organization .................................................. ............................. 4
Disclaimer .................................................. ................................. 4
Correlation of Accident/Incident Circumstances ......................... 5
New Accounts and Additional Information .................................. 5
Kiteboarding Account Summaries
Year 2002 (Accounts 19 - 43) ............................... Separate File
Year 2001 (Accounts 6- 18) ......................................... 7
Year 2000 (Accounts 1 - 5) ................................... Separate File

Organization
The accounts are divided into four sections, including:
General Information
This section provides an account number, date of the account, reported date of incident and location information. When possible, other reports of the account were sought and/or received from others. The number of these other reports is listed in this section. If information was received directly from the participant, it is noted in this section as well. Finally, if the information is described by a published internet account, the URL will be provided if it is known.
Summary
This section provides details that have been related without embellishment or comment. Despite attempts to verify the accounts, they should not be assumed to be verified. However, they may represent realistic but potentially hypothetical object lessons or scenarios for kiteboarders. Remembered and second party accounts may have errors and as such should not be assumed to be verified or necessarily to depict actual occurrences.
Lessons Learned
This section provides opinion regarding potential improved safety practices for kiteboarding derived from the experience related in the account. These “Lessons” may alter with time as new knowledge is gained and distributed in the sport. When new credible practices become known, they may be incorporated in updated versions of the accounts.
Commentary
This section provides opinions and specific observations based on the reported account. These comments are intended to discuss relationship to other incidents, trends, general precautions or other relevant topics.
Disclaimer
The account summaries listed in this resource may not be 100% accurate. Although accuracy is intended, it is not guaranteed in any fashion. No responsibility is assumed whatsoever for any errors, omissions, conclusions or consequences thereof. Attempts have been made in some cases to verify the accounts, but none of the account details should be considered to be confirmed or fully accurate by the information contained herein. Kiteboarding may potentially be practiced with reasonable safety with thorough training, current good practices, safety gear and by employing good judgment. This sport can be very dangerous if it is not approached with the level of care described. The same conclusion could apply to operating a car, bicycle or boat if the same lack of care as described was employed in these activities. These reports represent reported information and related opinions and are not intended to represent positions or opinions held by any organization or group. Other valid conclusions and procedures may be drawn from the information contained in this resource and will likely be drawn in the future as kiteboarding knowledge and safety technique is better understood. Participants are generally not identified by name, unless this identity is common knowledge or release is given. The goal of this resource is to impart lessons learned from the reported experiences of these individuals or likely scenarios and not to unduly embarrass or criticize the kiterboarders.

It is regretted that they have reportedly gone through these experiences. Sincere thanks are extended to them for helping to improve the safety of this sport with their accounts.
This resource is intended for the downloading, reading and private use of kiteboarders only. Use by other parties for any other purpose is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given. This document is protected by copyright and reproduction of this document or portions thereof is prohibited without prior written approval.
Correlation of Accident/Incident Circumstances To Specific Accounts
A. Use of a good helmet may have reduced chance of injuries in account #'s:
1,1a,4,5,7,8,9,11,12,14,16,16a,1819,20,21,22,23,
25,27,28,29,29b,30,31,32,34,34a,37,38,39a,39b,41,4 2,
B. High winds were involved in account #'s:
1,1a,5,9,11,12,13,15,16,16a,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,2 5,
27,28,29,29a,32,34,37,38,39a,41,42,
C. Lofting occurred in account #'s:
1,1a,4,5,7,8,9,11,12,15,17,18,19,20,25,28,29,30,32 ,37,39a,41,42,
D. Rider was upwind of nearby hard objects in account #'s:
1,4,5,6,7,9,11,13,14,16a,18,20,23,29b,37,41,42,
E. Onshore winds were present in account #'s:
4,5,7,9,11,15,18,19,20,29b,32,37,39a,41,42,
F. Unstable weather was present in account #'s:
1,1a,2,3,4,5,8,9,11,19,20,32,37,39a,42,
G. Inability to unhook from the chicken loop figured in account #'s: 4,6a,11,15,37,39a,42,
H. Board leash use figured in account #'s:
17,24,26,28,29b,31,
I. Injuries are known to have been reduced by helmet use in account #'s: 4,15,19,24a,35,39a
J. Proper preflighting could have helped to avoid accidents in account #'s:
16,29,30,33,34,35,
K. Self launch or improper assisted launch/landing contributed to accounts #'s:
22,29a,33,34,39
L. Glove use may have helped in account #'s: 2,3,29a
M. Proper kite leash function could have helped in account #'s: 42,42a,
New Accounts and Additional information

Kiteboarding Account Summaries
Year 2001

18. Incident # 12 01 1 "Waves Knock Rider Into Lofting" Location: SE Florida
Date: 12/6/01 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 2


Summary

A female team rider had launched her 7.5 m inflatable kite with onshore winds in the high 20 mph range. She sat down in the water near shore to put on her board. A bystander saw her get hit by a wave which knocked her over and sent her kite diving into the center of the power window. She was lofted out of the water at high speed and slammed into the beach headfirst. She didn't lose consciousness but was very dizzy and disoriented which continued for a couple of days. She went to the hospital for tests and was released. She started to feel more normal in a few days. She was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

1. Small kites can move with tremendous speed and force with small, or large, control inputs as shown in this case and incidents 10 01 2,10 01 1 and others. Great care must be taken with smaller kites in high wind, even more than with larger kites due to their high sensitivity to bar movements.
2. She could have body dragged out past the breakers but with the onshore wind that day, this may have been difficult. She could have put her board on while on shore and dragged out with someone holding her kite while she put her board on. Someone could have even held her kite while she was in the shallows putting her board on. If a rider is using a small kite in high wind should they think about doing things in a more conservative manner including arranging for another set of hands, to permit maximum kite control and stability.

Commentary

Helmets aren't fashionable, yet, but they can make a major difference. One saved the rider's life in incident 9 00 1, reduced injuries in 10 01 3, 1 02 01 and have cut down on the damage in many other incidents. Helmets should become routinely used to reduce injuries that appear to be inevitable in this sport.


17. Incident # 11 01 1 "Board Leash Tangles Lines, Rider Lofted" Location: Scottish East Coast Near Edinburgh
Date: Nov 01, 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

While practicing water starting, the rider initially got the board leash wrapped around his legs. Whilst dealing with this, he was pulled further downwind towards a cliff-face. He decided to drift into the next bay (only a 100 yards). During a strong gust, his kite powered up and launched while his board was drifting in front. Takeoff angle resulted in his board getting interlaced (and jammed) between the flight lines. The kite did not respond to aggressive steering or depowering attempts. The pilot was lofted airborne, unable to reach, release or reposition the board. Unhooking and ditching bar had no effect. Kite still fully powered and the rider was left dangling only by his wrist.

He was headed straight up and off the water towards a cliff about 30 feet away and accelerated further. He released the velcro wrist strap and fell into water 20-30ft below. Kite narrowly missed rocks at foot of cliff. No injury sustained. No equipment damaged.

Lessons learned

1) Be aware of your upper wind limits for the kite
2) Always watch where the board goes
3) Practice body dragging to avoid using a board leash as soon as possible.
4) Don't panic
5) Don't assume your "safety" gear will always work
This incident was the culmination of several unlikely events, any one of which would probably have been countered automatically by an experienced boarder.

Commentary

This was an unlikely accident many riders have had incidents and accidents caused by board leashes. Riders often don't have much choice about their riding area and launch layout. If you are learning and can make a choice for a large open area, i.e. no cliffs, rocks, trees, buildings, etc. anywhere nearby, go there. While you are new and even when you have been at it for a while maintaining adequate clearance, particularly downwind is critical. Space can allow for lots of incidents to be resolved without them necessarily turning into accidents. This is one potential outcome of self instruction.
Many of us have done it and took our knocks, hospital visits, damaged/destroyed kites, etc. Instructors are much more common in a various areas around the world, please use them. You will learn faster, safer and advance more quickly into this sport.


16a. Incident # 11 01 2 "Pro Rider Breaks Rib" Location: Cape Hatteras, NC, USA
Date: Nov. 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 1


Summary

This is the account of Dimitri Maramenides a highly skilled and successful pro kiteboarder on the east coast of the USA. Dimitri gave release for his name to be used in this account. He didn't have a good feeling about kiteboarding on this day but felt compelled to go as it is his job to ride and train. Conditions were 12 to 35 kts. and offshore. He had rigged a 10 m kite and had been on the water for 20 minutes. He had just completed a very high back loop combined with a 360 rotation; a tricky undertaking in the very strong, gusty wind conditions. He felt his body being pulled down to the water while still aloft and checked his kite position. He discovered that it was level with him. He had very little time to react and braced himself for a hard impact on the water. He hit very hard on his side and elbow. The air was knocked out of him. Dimitri was hit by a hard gust after he completed his back loop and 360 causing him to complete another 360 degree rotation. The second 360 sent his kite into a bad position and put him out of control.

He was slammed from 20 ft. high into about 3 ft. of water. He immediately experienced intense pain and trouble breathing. His kite then powered up and lofted him off the water for another hard impact. He looked down and noticed a strange lump on his chest through his wetsuit. He touched it and felt a bone move in and out.
No one was around to help him so he managed to land his kite in a tree, he then packed up and drove himself to the hospital. He was diagnosed as having a broken rib.

Lessons learned

1. Avoid wind offshore days and always have someone around when you kiteboard.
2. Don't jump in water under 6 ft. deep or expect possible complications.
3. In high gusty winds be extra careful, expect and plan for problems.
4. An impact vest may have reduced his injuries.

Commentary

I want to thank Dimitri for posting his account to try to help others avoid his experience. It is important to note that on an off day, under extreme conditions, even a rider of his very high level of competence can be faced with conditions that are beyond his control if they are permitted to develop. Riders of all skill levels need to be careful when near hard objects, be that the shoreline, rocks, boats or even the bottom particularly in high gusty wind conditions. Some riders have broken ribs just by hitting the water. I heard an unconfirmed report that Robby Naish broke some ribs on impact with the water a few years ago. Impact vests are worn routinely by competitive wakeboarders maybe kiteboarders should follow suit considering they can get a great deal more air.


16. Incident # 10 01 5 "Poorly Anchored Kite Takes Kiter For Ride" Location: California, USA
Date: Oct. 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

An intermediate rider was preflighting his lines with an undesignated kite when the ballasted kite was caught by a gust, ripped free of the sand ballast and launched prematurely. His left foot became tangled in the lines and he was dragged for a long time with great force as the kite flew out of control downwind. The rider was slammed into a large rock near the launch area while being pulled by the kite and subsequently was dragged into the water. He eventually was able to untie his foot and to get free of the kite. He was badly bruised by had no broken bones from the experience. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

You must very thoroughly ballast a kite with sand, particularly in gusty conditions. If kite launching is an issue in strong gusty winds you should have an assisted launch.

It is critical that you have an assisted launch if winds are strong enough to potentially compromise your ballasting. The kite should not be placed into solo launch position but should remain leading edge down with thorough sand ballasting while you preflight.
Commentary
The rider concluded that this incident could have easily been a fatal one. He indicated that he will wear a helmet in the future. Always use an exact, preflight procedure. High wind kiteboarding leaves little tolerance for errors and the price of errors in strong wind is often high. Riders need to be alert and be on the lookout for problems, particularly while on land.


15. Incident # 10 01 4 "Chicken Loop Failure Lofts Rider" Location: New Jersey, USA Date: 110/25/01 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

A kiteboarder was at the water's edge in high wind, having just launched when his NSI Power Trim Strap buckle reportedly broke. His kite then pulled him straight up out of control and he couldn't unhook. He went up to an undisclosed height, and fell, hitting hard in the weeds. He suffered memory loss of the actual impact or the time that followed. He remembers eventually being near his car. He was alone at the beach. He went to the hospital, had a CAT scan and he was released. He now feels fine. He was was wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

It appears that poor gear reliability may have caused this accident. This was an unforeseeable accident with an unexpected outcome. It resulted in a serious concussion and loss of consciousness. He had a helmet on. It no doubt reduced the severity of his brain impact and resulting injury.

Commentary

Kiteboarding skill doesn't appear to play a factor in this incident. The strap broke, the gust hit and the rider was lofted to a hard impact. Kiteboarders who don't wear helmets because they have advanced skill could also be just as vulnerable to injury under similar circumstances. Buying gear that looks like it will hold together and that has a reputation for durability should help. Avoid using gear that looks fragile or not durable. Also regular close inspection of gear during preflighting for early signs of breakage or failure is critical. If something shows early signs it is probably time to change it out. Kiteboarding with at least one observer to provide help if needed is a good idea. Keeping the kite out of neutral to avoid lofting is also an excellent idea when near hard objects. Traction kites can be like guns, don't aim them where you don't want to shoot or go, if things go wrong.

Advice to the injured rider and other kiteboarders who have been concussed; you now should be concerned about avoiding "second-impact syndrome." I went through something similar in the fall of 2000 and had to deal with this issue for the following year. In effect, you need to be very careful to avoid concussing yourself for a period of time, some say a year to avoid potential amplified damage or worse from the second injury. More at: http://www.neurosurgery.pitt.edu/trauma/concussion.html


14. Incident # 10 01 3 "Rider Fatality In Hawaii" Location: Mokuleia, Oahu
Date: 10/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


Summary

This account involves a very experienced waterman and kiteboarder. Accounts vary as to the details of and potential causes of the accident, but some say that he was seen dragging, perhaps intentionally body dragging with his kite when he hit one or more of the numerous shallow rocks present in the area. He was brought to shore by a windsurfer and an ambulance was called.

He had a severe cut under one eye and reported a head injury by one account. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

Unclear circumstances of the accident make it hard to draw conclusions and lessons from this incident. Some points do come to light: "Mokes", is an advanced, demanding kiteboarding area with high waves, strong winds and shallow rocks. These conditions make an unforgiving environment for mistakes, broken gear, bad landings, etc. Any rider going into such areas should be well up to it in terms of experience and skill. He should be willing to accept the consequences of having a bad day. A bad day could easily mean serious injury or as in this case, death. Many kiteboarders ride on the edge, it is part of the reason that they do it. It is not certain if wearing a helmet would have helped or not in this case. If you are coming within a few inches of a forehead or cheek impact is it really worth discussing? The obvious and safer course would be to wear a helmet, impact vest and perhaps ride somewhere else.

Commentary

If anyone has more information regarding this incident please email them in.


13. Incident # 10 01 2 "Kite Moves Mini Van" Location: Cape Hatteras
Date: 10/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


Summary

An experienced kiteboarder in a competition in Cape Hatteras was coming near shore to do a jump. The winds were 35 to 40 mph plus. He had a North Rhino 7.5 or 8.5 m kite up with no kite leash. He made the mistake of coming too close to some rocks. To avoid hitting them he let go of his kite. The kite flew towards and passed some spectators at high speed. The control bar bounced on the ground and pulled up into the wheel well of a mini van. The kite started to oscillate in figure "8's" and pulled the 3300 LB. Mini Van about one foot sideways. In the process of this, the kite lines caught and fragmented a roof mounted TV dish on an adjoining van. Several spectators ran up and started to grab the kite lines by hand. Two kiteboarders cut several of the kite lines to depower the kite and defuse the situation.

Lessons learned

Kiteboarders need to use leashes. If they do not use leashes, there should be a long free fire zone downwind of the kiters for runaway kites to blast through, with the area free of spectators.

If not, more incidents like this will occur and perhaps next time someone will be hit by the control bar or getting wrapped and cut by a line.

Commentary

Kites in high wind can be extremely powerful, moving a mini van sideways is pretty impressive. Many kiteboarders, including some new kiters (strangely), experienced and pro kiters don't like leashes. To avoid impacting bystanders they either need to start using leashes of an improved design or a large clear area needs to be established downwind of the kiteboarders. Also, everyone; Flash, Robby, Lou, everyone releases kites. It is not a matter of skill, it a matter of safety. If you don't use a leash you condemn bystanders downwind to deal with your runaway kite. They may not have the knowledge or awareness to safely deal with your kite. We need to be responsible and safe in kiteboarding.


12. Incident # 10 01 1 "Poor Kite Control Lofts Rider" Location: Cape Hatteras
Date: 10/27/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


Summary

An experienced kiteboarder launched an Airblast 6.3 m kite at competition in Cape Hatteras. The winds were strong, blowing 30 kts. plus. He was hooked into the chicken loop. He walked over and reached down, picked up his board with one hand and took a couple of steps. As he was doing this, his kite drifted across the wind window and strongly powered up. He was lofted 10 ft. off the ground and was violently slammed into the ground. He was in great pain and was transported to a hospital. The rest of the kiteboarders for the remainder of the competition were required to launch from the water.

Lessons learned

In high winds, with small kites maintain careful control of your kite at all times. If this means keeping both hands on a proper length bar while an assistant helps you with your board it would be a good idea. Launching well away from the shore and hard objects is always good practice if local conditions permit.

Commentary

Small kites, particularly high aspect kites move substantially with with the slightest control inputs in high winds. High wind kiteboarding is dangerous at most times and small control mistakes can be very costly under these conditions. Respect the power of the wind or you may be reminded in a violent, unpleasant fashion.


11. Incident # 9 01 1 "Rider Fatality In Spain" Location: Barcelona, Spain
Date: 9/25/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


Summary

A kiteboarder with three years experience, was picked up from the water by his kite and flown overland while gaining altitude. A nearby "tornado" or whirlwind was stated to have contributed to this incident. He eventually came free from or dropped his control bar, falling into the roof of a two and three story building. He died from injuries suffered on impact. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

Unfortunately, not many details are currently available regarding this accident. Was the rider hooked in, was he using a snap shackle, did he merely hold on to the bar in the shock of the moment, did he intentionally fall free from his bar or by accident? The cause isn't particularly clear except for the description of the weather as relatively clear and stable. This extreme gust must have come up suddenly to send the rider inland and to height at speed and from a "tornado" over the water. It would be helpful to know more details about this gust and other related circumstances, such as has this phenomena appeared before at the beach.

Commentary

As the causes and exact circumstances of this sad accident are unclear, it is hard to draw firm lessons on how to avoid this from happening. It seem very likely that he was hit with a very strong gust of unknown origin, couldn't unhook or let go of the bar until he was flying at speed and altitude inland. The rider could have been wearing a helmet, but it is not certain by any means that it would have saved his life under the reported circumstances. Normally, highly unstable weather doesn't come up without at least some warning, even subtle indications. We must be aware while flying along of the weather around us and coming our way at all times. These sort of extreme accidents are rare, but I hope that they may be avoidable by practicing logical precautions. If anyone knows more details of this accident please email them to me so that I can add to this account and the lessons that can be drawn from it.


10. Incident # 8 01 1 "Line Problems" Location: Upper Netherlands
Date: 08/11/01 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

When lines tangle, your safety leash might not function. As lines got tangled previous times, I had to try a different way of setting up to self water launch. I 'folded' (placed) all of the lines into the center near the main tube or leading edge and put the bar over it. While holding the kite on the main tube or leading edge, started to walk into the water. When I had moved beyond any objects or people, I flipped the kite over on it's leading edge in the water, turned it into the wind and let it go as you normally would when you want to solo water launch or float launch. However, the lines were all together flipped over in the (salty) water and were tangled instantly by the cohesion of the salt water to the lines. I didn't notice this until the lines were fully stretched out. They appeared to be all tight together, two meters from the kite. The kite flipped over due to strong winds and was trying to go up.

I got pulled more and more towards the dike (from where I started) and couldn't use my safety leash. (The safety leash will only work if one line is held.) Luckily, a kiteboarder on shore could help me out of my frightful situation.

Lessons learned

1. NEVER 'fold' all lines together in the kite and, alternately, NEVER unroll all lines from the bar when you're in the water and there's a kite attached. This will result in loss off fingers.
2. Make sure your kite lines are not 'twist-willing' in the first place. When attaching your lines to the kite, let your fingers feel all irregularity and twist in the complete length on all four lines. After kiteboarding, do the same routine. It will Help to keep your lines straight and you'll reduce the chance of tight twists and 'loop knots'.
3. Always try to waterstart with a friend. If that's not possible, always launch your kite on land, to make sure the lines are not twisted.
4. In the very last case, if you have to solo water launch or float launch, check #2 above while still on land. Grab your bar, don't twist it and walk with a slight arc to your kite. Turn the kite over, (tips up) to aid in taking the kite to the water. When in the water, flip the kite over on to its leading edge. While holding the bar, put that hand in the water under the leading edge and then pull your kite through the water to your launch area. Then put your other hand in the water, under the leading edge and hold it, while retrieving the other hand, that holds the bar.
Place the bar on your board and carefully check if no lines are twisted around boardleash, ankles, arms, fingers. Pull the chicken loop to the bar, and attach your safety leash. When done, turn (not flip) the kite carefully with one hand until it catches wind and let it go easy. Hook yourself into the chicken and wait. If all goes well, your lines will not even have one turn! If there is half a turn, you can deal with that by only one spin of your body. The main reason to pull your kite 'main tube down' instead of pulling the kite main tube up is that the wind might want to play a little game with your tips, and therefore your lines and they will get tangled. This is especially true in high winds. When the kite is leading edge down, your tips and lines will stay in the water and won't get tangled.
5. Lesson learned: Always remember that you will put yourself in a dangerous position when you can't use your safety leash. You will therefore never want all four lines to get tangled together!

Commentary

Many of us have had our depower kite leash disabled and had to deal with a powered up, out of control kite and the potential devastating consequences. The solutions are specific to the circumstances of each incident when the depower leash fails. The outcome, including injuries or damage to gear, is largely up to luck and critical split second decisions made in intense circumstances. The best solution is to avoid the circumstances in the first place in which your kite depower leash becomes useless. The primary way of accomplishing this is to use good reliable depower systems and to establish a careful routine for inspecting your gear, setup and launching, preferably with assistance.


9. Incident # 7 01 1 "Lofting Into Cars ... Twice" Location: Miami, FL
Date: July and September 2001 Participant accounts included: Yes and No Number of independent accounts: 5


Summary

Two unhelmeted riders were underway on their boards in onshore gusty winds. One was reportedly 25' off the beach and the other 100 ' off the beach when sudden gusts lofted them and flew them into parked cars along the beach. These two incidents occurred two months apart but were remarkably similar. In the earlier incident a 40 mph or lower gust caused the lofting and in the more recent event a gust close to 30 mph lofted the rider. The second rider landed on a car doing about $1000. USD in auto body damage. Reported Injuries: The first rider was banged up, and was taken to the emergency room, and later released. The more recent rider took all of the impact on his board and walked away without apparent injury, unlike the car!

Lessons learned

Avoid storms and squally weather. The weather radar and wind records showed unstable weather the day of the first incident. I chose not to go to that launch that day specifically because of the weather conditions shown on the internet. The weather was substantially less violent at the time of the second incident. Keep your kite low and offshore, particularly while near hard objects and wear a helmet (so you might survive the other injuries) and release/depower your kite before it is too late. Also consider carefully before flying in onshore winds, particularly if there is any substantial gust component. In the case of this launch, doing assisted launching and landing kites in the shallows 100' from shore would likely avoid any repeats of this sort of incident.

If a rider must come in to the beach under kite power, do so with the kite low and to the side of the window and be prepared to do an immediate assisted landing at the beach. Onshore gusty winds can be very dangerous and should be avoided.

Commentary

Two such events in a 500 ft. stretch of beach in two months is not a great record. A third lofting with serious injuries occurred later in this same small as described in incident 1 02 2. All three of these loftings were readily avoidable by launching and landing well offshore in the shallows. Either rider could have hit a bystander or their own head on impact and the outcome could have been far more serious or even deadly.
If dangerous circumstances are apparent, don't fly, or at least take suitable precautions to attempt to avoid serious incidents, i.e. in this case assisted launching and landing in the calm shallows over 100 ft. offshore. Try to use the lessons of past incidents; they may be the only warning that you receive.


8. Incident # 6 01 1 "Kiteboarder Discovers Thermals" Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Date: June 2001 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


Summary: A kiteboarding competitor had just launched his kite, with TV film crews present, and was suddenly lofted to 225 ft. off the ground for a period of over a minute. The kiteboarder kept his head and control of the kite and eventually landed, suffering only bruises.

Lessons learned

1. Don't launch your kite with strong thermal generating conditions.
2. Thermal generating conditions can be subtle but may include hot, dark fields, i.e. parking lots, large sandy areas, rising masses or high ground i.e. hills, mountains, buildings, clear skies with bright sun and cold fronts with high pressure systems.
3. Other likely thermal collectors to stay away from include large groups of trees, hot asphalt with cars, crop fields, etc. essentially any large and dark area which can trap air prior to the breeze becoming strong enough to cause penetration and allow mixing.
4. Launch very near or preferably from the water and get offshore quickly. Don't stay on or near the shore with your kite in the air for longer than strictly necessary.

Commentary

This remarkable incident is the highest lofting that has come to light to date. It is suspected that there have been other incidents with thermal lofting to lower altitudes occurring.
Serious injury can easily result from an impact as low an altitude as 10 feet. Be careful, the signs of this phenomena are not well known at this time. Learn as much as possible about your area's weather and flying characteristics. Kiteboarders in inland areas may be particularly at risk. When in doubt don't fly.



7. Incident # 5 01 1 "Uplift Lofting Fatality In Holland" Location: Holland
Date: May 2001 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 1


Summary: A new kiteboarder was blown towards a dike after clearing a tangle in some kelp. The winds were reported to be moderate. He may have been hooked in as the updraft flowing up the side of the dike pulled him up by the kite or lofted him, dropping him on to the roadway above the dike. He suffered head injuries that proved to be fatal. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

1. Wear a helmet and take adequate lessons. Once you have taken lessons confine your kiteboarding to wide open, safe launches without nearby hard objects.
2. Stay at least a hundred feet away from vertical surfaces, i.e. large walls, houses, cliff, bluffs, etc. with onshore winds.
3. If you are coming within a 100' of such an object and can't stop, be prepared to drop your kite bar or otherwise, safely depower your kite. Do not hook in or connect by snap shackle.
4. Try to anticipate and plan for dangerous conditions, even if they are not obvious.
5. Mentally anticipate and practice unhooking or releasing your snap shackle if lofted and letting go of your bar under conditions or scenarios that might demand it. The normal tendency is to hang on to the bar in shock. Try to anticipate and avoid that reaction.

Commentary

It was said that this kiteboarder would have benefited from instruction. That conclusion is universally true: All new kiteboarders should seek instruction. This approach would make sense in kiteboarding, once we have enough good instructors. A helmet may have made a difference. It is strongly recommended that all kiteboarders wear a good helmet routinely. Anticipating the consequences of the situation before it happened could have made a major difference. Such anticipation generally requires some experience for most people. Kiteboarders worldwide should try to collectively think about things that might happen before they happen, and share their thoughts and planned reactions with the rest of the kiteboarding community.


6a. Incident # 2 01 2 "Leash Problems - #4" Location: Foster City CA, USA
Date: April 2, 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

A relatively new kiteboarder had just learned to stay upwind and was anxious to get out on the water. The wind was stronger than he had ever ridden in before, but he was confident that he could handle it. He was on a Naish AR3 2 line kite of an unknown size. He launched at the upper point and got out on his board and immediately realized that he was way overpowered. He could hardly stay up on the board, much less stay upwind. He decided to body drag in to the little beach that most of the kiters launched from. The wind was so gusty and strong that he missed the beach. He was downwind of the beach where the shore is a rock levy. He knew from experience that behind the levy was a wind shadow, and that he could generally self land rather easily there. So he unhooked and started to move my kite around the edge of the window. As soon as the kite was over the levy it shot up and into the power zone. He was unfamiliar with thermals he was about to encounter one, (and a few other lessons) the hard way. He decided to hook in to get more leverage to put the kite down. He hooked in and leaned way back. Once again as soon as the kite passed over the thermal generation area, the kite shot up and into the power zone. He was first slammed against the levy, and then dragged up it, over the jagged rocks on his stomach. He tried to release the kite, but he could not unhook. In desperation he tried to point the kite back towards the water. This caused the kite to lift him high above the ground. He came down in a large bush, but was then dragged for nearly 100 yards through the ditch, with his legs pounding against rocks and logs. Eventually was able to unhook, but the kite was still powered, still dragging him, now by my wrist. The bar took some time to slide up the line, and even once it did the stopper was positioned too short to let the kite de-power properly. He was out of action for 6 weeks to heal torn muscles in his thighs. The rider claimed to feel very lucky to have lived through the experience.

Lessons learned

1. Don't go kiteboarding in overpowered wind conditions or in conditions beyond your experience.
2. Get instruction in the proper way to handle your kite. Getting instruction can help you to know your limits, and will teach you what can go wrong.
3. Learn and rehearse what can go wrong and what to do about it when it does.
4. Know your limits.
5. Don't go out in squally or unstable conditions.
6. When self landing your kite, release your kite on the depowering leash in the
water well away from land. (It is better to spend the time detangling
a birds nest of lines than it is to spend weeks recovering .)

7. Use some type of quick release mechanism for your loops.
8. Test your leash and make sure that the kite will completely. Inspect your kite frequently.
9. More kite leash development is needed.
10. Avoid thermal generating conditions.

Commentary

There were lots of lessons from this early kiteboarding experience. Using good judgment is critical to safe kiteboarding. The only way to develop the basis for good judgment is through training and careful experience. Training can occur on your own in the school of hard knocks or through professional instruction. Today, there are quite a few instructors in many areas to remove the need for going at it the hard and potentially injury prone way. Once you have developed the basis for good judgment you have to chose to use it. Many experienced riders that have accounts listed in the KSI have had difficulties with this.


6. Incident # 2 01 1 "Don't Jump In Shallow Water" Location: Cocoa Beach, FL
Date: February 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

The rider had been kiteboarding for several years and was advanced in the sport. He was going for a double back loop and on the second rotation his board popped off his feet and he landed in about three feet of water. As a result he broke his leg. The lesson from the experience is "don't jump in shallow water."
Lessons learned
Jump in water at least 6 ft. deep and preferably deeper.

Commentary

Many similar incidents have been reported involving bottom impacts following jump landings in shallow water. The outcomes have been pretty consistent including: major knee damage, fractured leg bones, reconstructive knee surgery and a long painful rehabilitation period, with months off the water.

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Default Kitesurfing Safety Information Year 2001 - Vers. 6_26_02

TERMS OF USE: Access to and use of this information is restricted. This resource is intended for the reading and private use by KITEBOARDERS ONLY to improve safety. Use by other parties for any other purpose or reproduction of portions or the entirety of this copyrighted document by ANY PARTY, is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given by the owner. In proceeding below to review this document, the user fully agrees to comply with these restrictions.

















KITEBOARDING SAFETY INFORMATION (KSI) - June 26, 2002
Introduction
This collection of reported but largely unconfirmed kiteboarding accidents and incidents has been prepared with the goal of improving kiteboarding safety. It is intended to spread the lessons learned from these accounts. The accuracy of most of these accounts is not verified and as such they should not be considered so. Ideally, the reader should view these accounts as describing potential credible scenarios that could lead to injury. The rider should gather ideas and perspective on how to avoid similar accidents and incidents. Kiteboarding is a new and rapidly growing sport. Safety concepts and knowledge are still being learned and spread. It is a goal of this resource to aid that process where possible.
It is important to put the frequency of these reported accident and incident accounts in perspective. These few dozen reported incidents generally represent the extremes in this sport. They do not represent the perceived normal rider experience. All accounts over a three year period. Estimates vary, but in that three years roughly ten million or more hours may have been spent by riders kiteboarding worldwide. Surveys are in progress but for now this is a rough estimate. The vast majority of these hours are perceived as having been free from serious incidents or injury. These scenarios represent incidents that reportedly happened to a minority of riders and should not be taken as "normal" by any means. Similar statistics for verified bicycle, aircraft or automobile accidents would be vastly more shocking in terms of the high numbers of victims per year and dramatic injuries worldwide. This resource has been prepared to raise the state of awareness and to avoid accidents. The point is that these reported accidents and incidents could potentially occur to any rider in conditions similar to those described. As such, kiteboarding should be viewed as a potentially dangerous, extreme sport that deserves careful training, practice, preparation and judgment to be safely enjoyed. With the expansion of knowledge, use of appropriate caution and adoption of better safety and riding procedures these risks should be reduced substantially. We are all still learning about this sport and the hazards that may be out there.
Often the difference between a safe kiteboarding session or an injurious one is prior knowledge, appropriate safety gear, practice of procedures to avoid problems and careful, informed judgment. This resource is intended for the downloading, reading and private use of kiteboarders only. Use by other parties for any other purpose is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given. This document is protected by copyright and reproduction of this document or portions thereof is prohibited without prior written approval of the owner.
Kiteboarding when undertaken in a responsible, informed fashion with proper professional training and preparation may be safer than other popular sports such as hang gliding, off-piste skiing, mixed gas scuba diving and many other pursuits. The preparation of this collection of stories is to improve common knowledge, awareness of threats to safety and questionable riding practices. The following examples will hopefully illustrate the potential costs of poor practices and judgment.
I want to express sincere thanks to Brett Gibson, founder of the Mid-Atlantic Kitesurfing Association, for proof reading and helping to revise this document. Also, I want to thank all the riders that have provided input that resulted in the creation of this resource. Constructive comments, suggestions, alternative views, credible eyewitness and particularly participant account information are always welcome and should be emailed to flkitesurfer@hotmail.com.

Table Of Contents Page
Introduction .................................................. ............................... 2
Table of Contents .................................................. ..................... 3
Organization .................................................. ............................. 4
Disclaimer .................................................. ................................. 4
Correlation of Accident/Incident Circumstances ......................... 5
New Accounts and Additional Information .................................. 5
Kiteboarding Account Summaries
Year 2002 (Accounts 19 - 43) ............................... Separate File
Year 2001 (Accounts 6- 18) ......................................... 7
Year 2000 (Accounts 1 - 5) ................................... Separate File

Organization
The accounts are divided into four sections, including:
General Information
This section provides an account number, date of the account, reported date of incident and location information. When possible, other reports of the account were sought and/or received from others. The number of these other reports is listed in this section. If information was received directly from the participant, it is noted in this section as well. Finally, if the information is described by a published internet account, the URL will be provided if it is known.
Summary
This section provides details that have been related without embellishment or comment. Despite attempts to verify the accounts, they should not be assumed to be verified. However, they may represent realistic but potentially hypothetical object lessons or scenarios for kiteboarders. Remembered and second party accounts may have errors and as such should not be assumed to be verified or necessarily to depict actual occurrences.
Lessons Learned
This section provides opinion regarding potential improved safety practices for kiteboarding derived from the experience related in the account. These “Lessons” may alter with time as new knowledge is gained and distributed in the sport. When new credible practices become known, they may be incorporated in updated versions of the accounts.
Commentary
This section provides opinions and specific observations based on the reported account. These comments are intended to discuss relationship to other incidents, trends, general precautions or other relevant topics.
Disclaimer
The account summaries listed in this resource may not be 100% accurate. Although accuracy is intended, it is not guaranteed in any fashion. No responsibility is assumed whatsoever for any errors, omissions, conclusions or consequences thereof. Attempts have been made in some cases to verify the accounts, but none of the account details should be considered to be confirmed or fully accurate by the information contained herein. Kiteboarding may potentially be practiced with reasonable safety with thorough training, current good practices, safety gear and by employing good judgment. This sport can be very dangerous if it is not approached with the level of care described. The same conclusion could apply to operating a car, bicycle or boat if the same lack of care as described was employed in these activities. These reports represent reported information and related opinions and are not intended to represent positions or opinions held by any organization or group. Other valid conclusions and procedures may be drawn from the information contained in this resource and will likely be drawn in the future as kiteboarding knowledge and safety technique is better understood. Participants are generally not identified by name, unless this identity is common knowledge or release is given. The goal of this resource is to impart lessons learned from the reported experiences of these individuals or likely scenarios and not to unduly embarrass or criticize the kiterboarders.

It is regretted that they have reportedly gone through these experiences. Sincere thanks are extended to them for helping to improve the safety of this sport with their accounts.
This resource is intended for the downloading, reading and private use of kiteboarders only. Use by other parties for any other purpose is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given. This document is protected by copyright and reproduction of this document or portions thereof is prohibited without prior written approval.
Correlation of Accident/Incident Circumstances To Specific Accounts
A. Use of a good helmet may have reduced chance of injuries in account #'s:
1,1a,4,5,7,8,9,11,12,14,16,16a,1819,20,21,22,23,
25,27,28,29,29b,30,31,32,34,34a,37,38,39a,39b,41,4 2,
B. High winds were involved in account #'s:
1,1a,5,9,11,12,13,15,16,16a,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,2 5,
27,28,29,29a,32,34,37,38,39a,41,42,
C. Lofting occurred in account #'s:
1,1a,4,5,7,8,9,11,12,15,17,18,19,20,25,28,29,30,32 ,37,39a,41,42,
D. Rider was upwind of nearby hard objects in account #'s:
1,4,5,6,7,9,11,13,14,16a,18,20,23,29b,37,41,42,
E. Onshore winds were present in account #'s:
4,5,7,9,11,15,18,19,20,29b,32,37,39a,41,42,
F. Unstable weather was present in account #'s:
1,1a,2,3,4,5,8,9,11,19,20,32,37,39a,42,
G. Inability to unhook from the chicken loop figured in account #'s: 4,6a,11,15,37,39a,42,
H. Board leash use figured in account #'s:
17,24,26,28,29b,31,
I. Injuries are known to have been reduced by helmet use in account #'s: 4,15,19,24a,35,39a
J. Proper preflighting could have helped to avoid accidents in account #'s:
16,29,30,33,34,35,
K. Self launch or improper assisted launch/landing contributed to accounts #'s:
22,29a,33,34,39
L. Glove use may have helped in account #'s: 2,3,29a
M. Proper kite leash function could have helped in account #'s: 42,42a,
New Accounts and Additional information

Kiteboarding Account Summaries
Year 2001

18. Incident # 12 01 1 "Waves Knock Rider Into Lofting" Location: SE Florida
Date: 12/6/01 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 2


Summary

A female team rider had launched her 7.5 m inflatable kite with onshore winds in the high 20 mph range. She sat down in the water near shore to put on her board. A bystander saw her get hit by a wave which knocked her over and sent her kite diving into the center of the power window. She was lofted out of the water at high speed and slammed into the beach headfirst. She didn't lose consciousness but was very dizzy and disoriented which continued for a couple of days. She went to the hospital for tests and was released. She started to feel more normal in a few days. She was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

1. Small kites can move with tremendous speed and force with small, or large, control inputs as shown in this case and incidents 10 01 2,10 01 1 and others. Great care must be taken with smaller kites in high wind, even more than with larger kites due to their high sensitivity to bar movements.
2. She could have body dragged out past the breakers but with the onshore wind that day, this may have been difficult. She could have put her board on while on shore and dragged out with someone holding her kite while she put her board on. Someone could have even held her kite while she was in the shallows putting her board on. If a rider is using a small kite in high wind should they think about doing things in a more conservative manner including arranging for another set of hands, to permit maximum kite control and stability.

Commentary

Helmets aren't fashionable, yet, but they can make a major difference. One saved the rider's life in incident 9 00 1, reduced injuries in 10 01 3, 1 02 01 and have cut down on the damage in many other incidents. Helmets should become routinely used to reduce injuries that appear to be inevitable in this sport.


17. Incident # 11 01 1 "Board Leash Tangles Lines, Rider Lofted" Location: Scottish East Coast Near Edinburgh
Date: Nov 01, 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

While practicing water starting, the rider initially got the board leash wrapped around his legs. Whilst dealing with this, he was pulled further downwind towards a cliff-face. He decided to drift into the next bay (only a 100 yards). During a strong gust, his kite powered up and launched while his board was drifting in front. Takeoff angle resulted in his board getting interlaced (and jammed) between the flight lines. The kite did not respond to aggressive steering or depowering attempts. The pilot was lofted airborne, unable to reach, release or reposition the board. Unhooking and ditching bar had no effect. Kite still fully powered and the rider was left dangling only by his wrist.

He was headed straight up and off the water towards a cliff about 30 feet away and accelerated further. He released the velcro wrist strap and fell into water 20-30ft below. Kite narrowly missed rocks at foot of cliff. No injury sustained. No equipment damaged.

Lessons learned

1) Be aware of your upper wind limits for the kite
2) Always watch where the board goes
3) Practice body dragging to avoid using a board leash as soon as possible.
4) Don't panic
5) Don't assume your "safety" gear will always work
This incident was the culmination of several unlikely events, any one of which would probably have been countered automatically by an experienced boarder.

Commentary

This was an unlikely accident many riders have had incidents and accidents caused by board leashes. Riders often don't have much choice about their riding area and launch layout. If you are learning and can make a choice for a large open area, i.e. no cliffs, rocks, trees, buildings, etc. anywhere nearby, go there. While you are new and even when you have been at it for a while maintaining adequate clearance, particularly downwind is critical. Space can allow for lots of incidents to be resolved without them necessarily turning into accidents. This is one potential outcome of self instruction.
Many of us have done it and took our knocks, hospital visits, damaged/destroyed kites, etc. Instructors are much more common in a various areas around the world, please use them. You will learn faster, safer and advance more quickly into this sport.


16a. Incident # 11 01 2 "Pro Rider Breaks Rib" Location: Cape Hatteras, NC, USA
Date: Nov. 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 1


Summary

This is the account of Dimitri Maramenides a highly skilled and successful pro kiteboarder on the east coast of the USA. Dimitri gave release for his name to be used in this account. He didn't have a good feeling about kiteboarding on this day but felt compelled to go as it is his job to ride and train. Conditions were 12 to 35 kts. and offshore. He had rigged a 10 m kite and had been on the water for 20 minutes. He had just completed a very high back loop combined with a 360 rotation; a tricky undertaking in the very strong, gusty wind conditions. He felt his body being pulled down to the water while still aloft and checked his kite position. He discovered that it was level with him. He had very little time to react and braced himself for a hard impact on the water. He hit very hard on his side and elbow. The air was knocked out of him. Dimitri was hit by a hard gust after he completed his back loop and 360 causing him to complete another 360 degree rotation. The second 360 sent his kite into a bad position and put him out of control.

He was slammed from 20 ft. high into about 3 ft. of water. He immediately experienced intense pain and trouble breathing. His kite then powered up and lofted him off the water for another hard impact. He looked down and noticed a strange lump on his chest through his wetsuit. He touched it and felt a bone move in and out.
No one was around to help him so he managed to land his kite in a tree, he then packed up and drove himself to the hospital. He was diagnosed as having a broken rib.

Lessons learned

1. Avoid wind offshore days and always have someone around when you kiteboard.
2. Don't jump in water under 6 ft. deep or expect possible complications.
3. In high gusty winds be extra careful, expect and plan for problems.
4. An impact vest may have reduced his injuries.

Commentary

I want to thank Dimitri for posting his account to try to help others avoid his experience. It is important to note that on an off day, under extreme conditions, even a rider of his very high level of competence can be faced with conditions that are beyond his control if they are permitted to develop. Riders of all skill levels need to be careful when near hard objects, be that the shoreline, rocks, boats or even the bottom particularly in high gusty wind conditions. Some riders have broken ribs just by hitting the water. I heard an unconfirmed report that Robby Naish broke some ribs on impact with the water a few years ago. Impact vests are worn routinely by competitive wakeboarders maybe kiteboarders should follow suit considering they can get a great deal more air.


16. Incident # 10 01 5 "Poorly Anchored Kite Takes Kiter For Ride" Location: California, USA
Date: Oct. 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

An intermediate rider was preflighting his lines with an undesignated kite when the ballasted kite was caught by a gust, ripped free of the sand ballast and launched prematurely. His left foot became tangled in the lines and he was dragged for a long time with great force as the kite flew out of control downwind. The rider was slammed into a large rock near the launch area while being pulled by the kite and subsequently was dragged into the water. He eventually was able to untie his foot and to get free of the kite. He was badly bruised by had no broken bones from the experience. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

You must very thoroughly ballast a kite with sand, particularly in gusty conditions. If kite launching is an issue in strong gusty winds you should have an assisted launch.

It is critical that you have an assisted launch if winds are strong enough to potentially compromise your ballasting. The kite should not be placed into solo launch position but should remain leading edge down with thorough sand ballasting while you preflight.
Commentary
The rider concluded that this incident could have easily been a fatal one. He indicated that he will wear a helmet in the future. Always use an exact, preflight procedure. High wind kiteboarding leaves little tolerance for errors and the price of errors in strong wind is often high. Riders need to be alert and be on the lookout for problems, particularly while on land.


15. Incident # 10 01 4 "Chicken Loop Failure Lofts Rider" Location: New Jersey, USA Date: 110/25/01 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

A kiteboarder was at the water's edge in high wind, having just launched when his NSI Power Trim Strap buckle reportedly broke. His kite then pulled him straight up out of control and he couldn't unhook. He went up to an undisclosed height, and fell, hitting hard in the weeds. He suffered memory loss of the actual impact or the time that followed. He remembers eventually being near his car. He was alone at the beach. He went to the hospital, had a CAT scan and he was released. He now feels fine. He was was wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

It appears that poor gear reliability may have caused this accident. This was an unforeseeable accident with an unexpected outcome. It resulted in a serious concussion and loss of consciousness. He had a helmet on. It no doubt reduced the severity of his brain impact and resulting injury.

Commentary

Kiteboarding skill doesn't appear to play a factor in this incident. The strap broke, the gust hit and the rider was lofted to a hard impact. Kiteboarders who don't wear helmets because they have advanced skill could also be just as vulnerable to injury under similar circumstances. Buying gear that looks like it will hold together and that has a reputation for durability should help. Avoid using gear that looks fragile or not durable. Also regular close inspection of gear during preflighting for early signs of breakage or failure is critical. If something shows early signs it is probably time to change it out. Kiteboarding with at least one observer to provide help if needed is a good idea. Keeping the kite out of neutral to avoid lofting is also an excellent idea when near hard objects. Traction kites can be like guns, don't aim them where you don't want to shoot or go, if things go wrong.

Advice to the injured rider and other kiteboarders who have been concussed; you now should be concerned about avoiding "second-impact syndrome." I went through something similar in the fall of 2000 and had to deal with this issue for the following year. In effect, you need to be very careful to avoid concussing yourself for a period of time, some say a year to avoid potential amplified damage or worse from the second injury. More at: http://www.neurosurgery.pitt.edu/trauma/concussion.html


14. Incident # 10 01 3 "Rider Fatality In Hawaii" Location: Mokuleia, Oahu
Date: 10/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


Summary

This account involves a very experienced waterman and kiteboarder. Accounts vary as to the details of and potential causes of the accident, but some say that he was seen dragging, perhaps intentionally body dragging with his kite when he hit one or more of the numerous shallow rocks present in the area. He was brought to shore by a windsurfer and an ambulance was called.

He had a severe cut under one eye and reported a head injury by one account. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

Unclear circumstances of the accident make it hard to draw conclusions and lessons from this incident. Some points do come to light: "Mokes", is an advanced, demanding kiteboarding area with high waves, strong winds and shallow rocks. These conditions make an unforgiving environment for mistakes, broken gear, bad landings, etc. Any rider going into such areas should be well up to it in terms of experience and skill. He should be willing to accept the consequences of having a bad day. A bad day could easily mean serious injury or as in this case, death. Many kiteboarders ride on the edge, it is part of the reason that they do it. It is not certain if wearing a helmet would have helped or not in this case. If you are coming within a few inches of a forehead or cheek impact is it really worth discussing? The obvious and safer course would be to wear a helmet, impact vest and perhaps ride somewhere else.

Commentary

If anyone has more information regarding this incident please email them in.


13. Incident # 10 01 2 "Kite Moves Mini Van" Location: Cape Hatteras
Date: 10/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


Summary

An experienced kiteboarder in a competition in Cape Hatteras was coming near shore to do a jump. The winds were 35 to 40 mph plus. He had a North Rhino 7.5 or 8.5 m kite up with no kite leash. He made the mistake of coming too close to some rocks. To avoid hitting them he let go of his kite. The kite flew towards and passed some spectators at high speed. The control bar bounced on the ground and pulled up into the wheel well of a mini van. The kite started to oscillate in figure "8's" and pulled the 3300 LB. Mini Van about one foot sideways. In the process of this, the kite lines caught and fragmented a roof mounted TV dish on an adjoining van. Several spectators ran up and started to grab the kite lines by hand. Two kiteboarders cut several of the kite lines to depower the kite and defuse the situation.

Lessons learned

Kiteboarders need to use leashes. If they do not use leashes, there should be a long free fire zone downwind of the kiters for runaway kites to blast through, with the area free of spectators.

If not, more incidents like this will occur and perhaps next time someone will be hit by the control bar or getting wrapped and cut by a line.

Commentary

Kites in high wind can be extremely powerful, moving a mini van sideways is pretty impressive. Many kiteboarders, including some new kiters (strangely), experienced and pro kiters don't like leashes. To avoid impacting bystanders they either need to start using leashes of an improved design or a large clear area needs to be established downwind of the kiteboarders. Also, everyone; Flash, Robby, Lou, everyone releases kites. It is not a matter of skill, it a matter of safety. If you don't use a leash you condemn bystanders downwind to deal with your runaway kite. They may not have the knowledge or awareness to safely deal with your kite. We need to be responsible and safe in kiteboarding.


12. Incident # 10 01 1 "Poor Kite Control Lofts Rider" Location: Cape Hatteras
Date: 10/27/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


Summary

An experienced kiteboarder launched an Airblast 6.3 m kite at competition in Cape Hatteras. The winds were strong, blowing 30 kts. plus. He was hooked into the chicken loop. He walked over and reached down, picked up his board with one hand and took a couple of steps. As he was doing this, his kite drifted across the wind window and strongly powered up. He was lofted 10 ft. off the ground and was violently slammed into the ground. He was in great pain and was transported to a hospital. The rest of the kiteboarders for the remainder of the competition were required to launch from the water.

Lessons learned

In high winds, with small kites maintain careful control of your kite at all times. If this means keeping both hands on a proper length bar while an assistant helps you with your board it would be a good idea. Launching well away from the shore and hard objects is always good practice if local conditions permit.

Commentary

Small kites, particularly high aspect kites move substantially with with the slightest control inputs in high winds. High wind kiteboarding is dangerous at most times and small control mistakes can be very costly under these conditions. Respect the power of the wind or you may be reminded in a violent, unpleasant fashion.


11. Incident # 9 01 1 "Rider Fatality In Spain" Location: Barcelona, Spain
Date: 9/25/01 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


Summary

A kiteboarder with three years experience, was picked up from the water by his kite and flown overland while gaining altitude. A nearby "tornado" or whirlwind was stated to have contributed to this incident. He eventually came free from or dropped his control bar, falling into the roof of a two and three story building. He died from injuries suffered on impact. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

Unfortunately, not many details are currently available regarding this accident. Was the rider hooked in, was he using a snap shackle, did he merely hold on to the bar in the shock of the moment, did he intentionally fall free from his bar or by accident? The cause isn't particularly clear except for the description of the weather as relatively clear and stable. This extreme gust must have come up suddenly to send the rider inland and to height at speed and from a "tornado" over the water. It would be helpful to know more details about this gust and other related circumstances, such as has this phenomena appeared before at the beach.

Commentary

As the causes and exact circumstances of this sad accident are unclear, it is hard to draw firm lessons on how to avoid this from happening. It seem very likely that he was hit with a very strong gust of unknown origin, couldn't unhook or let go of the bar until he was flying at speed and altitude inland. The rider could have been wearing a helmet, but it is not certain by any means that it would have saved his life under the reported circumstances. Normally, highly unstable weather doesn't come up without at least some warning, even subtle indications. We must be aware while flying along of the weather around us and coming our way at all times. These sort of extreme accidents are rare, but I hope that they may be avoidable by practicing logical precautions. If anyone knows more details of this accident please email them to me so that I can add to this account and the lessons that can be drawn from it.


10. Incident # 8 01 1 "Line Problems" Location: Upper Netherlands
Date: 08/11/01 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

When lines tangle, your safety leash might not function. As lines got tangled previous times, I had to try a different way of setting up to self water launch. I 'folded' (placed) all of the lines into the center near the main tube or leading edge and put the bar over it. While holding the kite on the main tube or leading edge, started to walk into the water. When I had moved beyond any objects or people, I flipped the kite over on it's leading edge in the water, turned it into the wind and let it go as you normally would when you want to solo water launch or float launch. However, the lines were all together flipped over in the (salty) water and were tangled instantly by the cohesion of the salt water to the lines. I didn't notice this until the lines were fully stretched out. They appeared to be all tight together, two meters from the kite. The kite flipped over due to strong winds and was trying to go up.

I got pulled more and more towards the dike (from where I started) and couldn't use my safety leash. (The safety leash will only work if one line is held.) Luckily, a kiteboarder on shore could help me out of my frightful situation.

Lessons learned

1. NEVER 'fold' all lines together in the kite and, alternately, NEVER unroll all lines from the bar when you're in the water and there's a kite attached. This will result in loss off fingers.
2. Make sure your kite lines are not 'twist-willing' in the first place. When attaching your lines to the kite, let your fingers feel all irregularity and twist in the complete length on all four lines. After kiteboarding, do the same routine. It will Help to keep your lines straight and you'll reduce the chance of tight twists and 'loop knots'.
3. Always try to waterstart with a friend. If that's not possible, always launch your kite on land, to make sure the lines are not twisted.
4. In the very last case, if you have to solo water launch or float launch, check #2 above while still on land. Grab your bar, don't twist it and walk with a slight arc to your kite. Turn the kite over, (tips up) to aid in taking the kite to the water. When in the water, flip the kite over on to its leading edge. While holding the bar, put that hand in the water under the leading edge and then pull your kite through the water to your launch area. Then put your other hand in the water, under the leading edge and hold it, while retrieving the other hand, that holds the bar.
Place the bar on your board and carefully check if no lines are twisted around boardleash, ankles, arms, fingers. Pull the chicken loop to the bar, and attach your safety leash. When done, turn (not flip) the kite carefully with one hand until it catches wind and let it go easy. Hook yourself into the chicken and wait. If all goes well, your lines will not even have one turn! If there is half a turn, you can deal with that by only one spin of your body. The main reason to pull your kite 'main tube down' instead of pulling the kite main tube up is that the wind might want to play a little game with your tips, and therefore your lines and they will get tangled. This is especially true in high winds. When the kite is leading edge down, your tips and lines will stay in the water and won't get tangled.
5. Lesson learned: Always remember that you will put yourself in a dangerous position when you can't use your safety leash. You will therefore never want all four lines to get tangled together!

Commentary

Many of us have had our depower kite leash disabled and had to deal with a powered up, out of control kite and the potential devastating consequences. The solutions are specific to the circumstances of each incident when the depower leash fails. The outcome, including injuries or damage to gear, is largely up to luck and critical split second decisions made in intense circumstances. The best solution is to avoid the circumstances in the first place in which your kite depower leash becomes useless. The primary way of accomplishing this is to use good reliable depower systems and to establish a careful routine for inspecting your gear, setup and launching, preferably with assistance.


9. Incident # 7 01 1 "Lofting Into Cars ... Twice" Location: Miami, FL
Date: July and September 2001 Participant accounts included: Yes and No Number of independent accounts: 5


Summary

Two unhelmeted riders were underway on their boards in onshore gusty winds. One was reportedly 25' off the beach and the other 100 ' off the beach when sudden gusts lofted them and flew them into parked cars along the beach. These two incidents occurred two months apart but were remarkably similar. In the earlier incident a 40 mph or lower gust caused the lofting and in the more recent event a gust close to 30 mph lofted the rider. The second rider landed on a car doing about $1000. USD in auto body damage. Reported Injuries: The first rider was banged up, and was taken to the emergency room, and later released. The more recent rider took all of the impact on his board and walked away without apparent injury, unlike the car!

Lessons learned

Avoid storms and squally weather. The weather radar and wind records showed unstable weather the day of the first incident. I chose not to go to that launch that day specifically because of the weather conditions shown on the internet. The weather was substantially less violent at the time of the second incident. Keep your kite low and offshore, particularly while near hard objects and wear a helmet (so you might survive the other injuries) and release/depower your kite before it is too late. Also consider carefully before flying in onshore winds, particularly if there is any substantial gust component. In the case of this launch, doing assisted launching and landing kites in the shallows 100' from shore would likely avoid any repeats of this sort of incident.

If a rider must come in to the beach under kite power, do so with the kite low and to the side of the window and be prepared to do an immediate assisted landing at the beach. Onshore gusty winds can be very dangerous and should be avoided.

Commentary

Two such events in a 500 ft. stretch of beach in two months is not a great record. A third lofting with serious injuries occurred later in this same small as described in incident 1 02 2. All three of these loftings were readily avoidable by launching and landing well offshore in the shallows. Either rider could have hit a bystander or their own head on impact and the outcome could have been far more serious or even deadly.
If dangerous circumstances are apparent, don't fly, or at least take suitable precautions to attempt to avoid serious incidents, i.e. in this case assisted launching and landing in the calm shallows over 100 ft. offshore. Try to use the lessons of past incidents; they may be the only warning that you receive.


8. Incident # 6 01 1 "Kiteboarder Discovers Thermals" Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Date: June 2001 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


Summary: A kiteboarding competitor had just launched his kite, with TV film crews present, and was suddenly lofted to 225 ft. off the ground for a period of over a minute. The kiteboarder kept his head and control of the kite and eventually landed, suffering only bruises.

Lessons learned

1. Don't launch your kite with strong thermal generating conditions.
2. Thermal generating conditions can be subtle but may include hot, dark fields, i.e. parking lots, large sandy areas, rising masses or high ground i.e. hills, mountains, buildings, clear skies with bright sun and cold fronts with high pressure systems.
3. Other likely thermal collectors to stay away from include large groups of trees, hot asphalt with cars, crop fields, etc. essentially any large and dark area which can trap air prior to the breeze becoming strong enough to cause penetration and allow mixing.
4. Launch very near or preferably from the water and get offshore quickly. Don't stay on or near the shore with your kite in the air for longer than strictly necessary.

Commentary

This remarkable incident is the highest lofting that has come to light to date. It is suspected that there have been other incidents with thermal lofting to lower altitudes occurring.
Serious injury can easily result from an impact as low an altitude as 10 feet. Be careful, the signs of this phenomena are not well known at this time. Learn as much as possible about your area's weather and flying characteristics. Kiteboarders in inland areas may be particularly at risk. When in doubt don't fly.



7. Incident # 5 01 1 "Uplift Lofting Fatality In Holland" Location: Holland
Date: May 2001 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 1


Summary: A new kiteboarder was blown towards a dike after clearing a tangle in some kelp. The winds were reported to be moderate. He may have been hooked in as the updraft flowing up the side of the dike pulled him up by the kite or lofted him, dropping him on to the roadway above the dike. He suffered head injuries that proved to be fatal. He was not wearing a helmet.

Lessons learned

1. Wear a helmet and take adequate lessons. Once you have taken lessons confine your kiteboarding to wide open, safe launches without nearby hard objects.
2. Stay at least a hundred feet away from vertical surfaces, i.e. large walls, houses, cliff, bluffs, etc. with onshore winds.
3. If you are coming within a 100' of such an object and can't stop, be prepared to drop your kite bar or otherwise, safely depower your kite. Do not hook in or connect by snap shackle.
4. Try to anticipate and plan for dangerous conditions, even if they are not obvious.
5. Mentally anticipate and practice unhooking or releasing your snap shackle if lofted and letting go of your bar under conditions or scenarios that might demand it. The normal tendency is to hang on to the bar in shock. Try to anticipate and avoid that reaction.

Commentary

It was said that this kiteboarder would have benefited from instruction. That conclusion is universally true: All new kiteboarders should seek instruction. This approach would make sense in kiteboarding, once we have enough good instructors. A helmet may have made a difference. It is strongly recommended that all kiteboarders wear a good helmet routinely. Anticipating the consequences of the situation before it happened could have made a major difference. Such anticipation generally requires some experience for most people. Kiteboarders worldwide should try to collectively think about things that might happen before they happen, and share their thoughts and planned reactions with the rest of the kiteboarding community.


6a. Incident # 2 01 2 "Leash Problems - #4" Location: Foster City CA, USA
Date: April 2, 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

A relatively new kiteboarder had just learned to stay upwind and was anxious to get out on the water. The wind was stronger than he had ever ridden in before, but he was confident that he could handle it. He was on a Naish AR3 2 line kite of an unknown size. He launched at the upper point and got out on his board and immediately realized that he was way overpowered. He could hardly stay up on the board, much less stay upwind. He decided to body drag in to the little beach that most of the kiters launched from. The wind was so gusty and strong that he missed the beach. He was downwind of the beach where the shore is a rock levy. He knew from experience that behind the levy was a wind shadow, and that he could generally self land rather easily there. So he unhooked and started to move my kite around the edge of the window. As soon as the kite was over the levy it shot up and into the power zone. He was unfamiliar with thermals he was about to encounter one, (and a few other lessons) the hard way. He decided to hook in to get more leverage to put the kite down. He hooked in and leaned way back. Once again as soon as the kite passed over the thermal generation area, the kite shot up and into the power zone. He was first slammed against the levy, and then dragged up it, over the jagged rocks on his stomach. He tried to release the kite, but he could not unhook. In desperation he tried to point the kite back towards the water. This caused the kite to lift him high above the ground. He came down in a large bush, but was then dragged for nearly 100 yards through the ditch, with his legs pounding against rocks and logs. Eventually was able to unhook, but the kite was still powered, still dragging him, now by my wrist. The bar took some time to slide up the line, and even once it did the stopper was positioned too short to let the kite de-power properly. He was out of action for 6 weeks to heal torn muscles in his thighs. The rider claimed to feel very lucky to have lived through the experience.

Lessons learned

1. Don't go kiteboarding in overpowered wind conditions or in conditions beyond your experience.
2. Get instruction in the proper way to handle your kite. Getting instruction can help you to know your limits, and will teach you what can go wrong.
3. Learn and rehearse what can go wrong and what to do about it when it does.
4. Know your limits.
5. Don't go out in squally or unstable conditions.
6. When self landing your kite, release your kite on the depowering leash in the
water well away from land. (It is better to spend the time detangling
a birds nest of lines than it is to spend weeks recovering .)

7. Use some type of quick release mechanism for your loops.
8. Test your leash and make sure that the kite will completely. Inspect your kite frequently.
9. More kite leash development is needed.
10. Avoid thermal generating conditions.

Commentary

There were lots of lessons from this early kiteboarding experience. Using good judgment is critical to safe kiteboarding. The only way to develop the basis for good judgment is through training and careful experience. Training can occur on your own in the school of hard knocks or through professional instruction. Today, there are quite a few instructors in many areas to remove the need for going at it the hard and potentially injury prone way. Once you have developed the basis for good judgment you have to chose to use it. Many experienced riders that have accounts listed in the KSI have had difficulties with this.


6. Incident # 2 01 1 "Don't Jump In Shallow Water" Location: Cocoa Beach, FL
Date: February 2001 Participant account included: Yes Number of independent accounts: 0


Summary

The rider had been kiteboarding for several years and was advanced in the sport. He was going for a double back loop and on the second rotation his board popped off his feet and he landed in about three feet of water. As a result he broke his leg. The lesson from the experience is "don't jump in shallow water."
Lessons learned
Jump in water at least 6 ft. deep and preferably deeper.

Commentary

Many similar incidents have been reported involving bottom impacts following jump landings in shallow water. The outcomes have been pretty consistent including: major knee damage, fractured leg bones, reconstructive knee surgery and a long painful rehabilitation period, with months off the water.

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transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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