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Old 10-16-2006, 08:40 AM
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bryanleighty bryanleighty is offline
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Default So there seem to be about 3000 kiters in this area now.....

That time of the year when we should probably discuss how we can better our launch/landing areas with the obvious increase of local riders.

Few things I noticed on Saturday at the Skyway.. most everyone was far up at the point of the beach.. there was a lot of room down by the big Mangrove bush.. i had my kites there and there was maybe one other kiter utilizing that area.. not sure why.. lots more room for everyone if we try to spread things out.

Only a few people were winding up their lines after setting their kites down for a break.. need to do this for everyones saftey..

There was a rider not using a leash and he lost his kite twice. There were 2 small children and a number of people watching us kite on the beach right where his kite/line/bar went flying thru both times. I cannot begin to express how pissed this made me and how horrible things could have ended. I dont know the rider but I think many people do. I saw him back out on the water again w/o a leash riding a bow kite with a pulley bar (no depower line.. just a trim strap). If anyone knows him, please talk to him about this.

Please try to park as far from the beach area as possible. ..

Please give complete right of way to those launching and landing...

Blah blah blah...
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Old 10-16-2006, 09:00 AM
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Yeah, and I'll add that newer kiters might want to stay in areas that are a bit more instruction friendly if possible such as East Beach. I am guilty of this as well as Chris and I were teaching Amber at the Skyway. The only reason we were teaching her there over EB was because it was an EXTREME low tide and we walked way out to the sandbar far away from other kiters...Amber got up for about 5 seconds thanks to Chris!!! She's well on her way!

On Sunday, a rider got caught downwind at the Skyway after helping a non-local, retrieving her board. A REAL complaint I have with the attitude that seems to have developed is that I saw him in trouble near the rocky area and asked 3-4 people who were on the beach (I had a kite up and didn't dare ride down there for fear that I would get stuck too) to help him. They all said "He'll be fine" or "He's gonna touch bottom soon, he'll be okay". All it would have taken is about 5 minutes of effort to hop in a car, drive down to where he was stuck and catch his kite for him. Instead, his BRAND NEW kite has about a 3 foot gash in both the leading edge and the bladder. Props to Jeff for trying to ride downwind and help him!!! The rider in question could have been caught by a gust much like Tom was at EB that day and taken into the fence or worse, across to the highway ramp and badly injured if not killed. NOT COOL, if you see someone in trouble then take a minute to imagine that it is you out there flailing around. Would YOU want assistance? Then get up off your lazy a$$ and go help a fellow kiter in need of help!!!!!

Also, there were two other instances Sunday when one kiter launched his kite without being hooked in or having his leash attached. You don't have to hook in while launching, sometimes it is the safer way to launch but the VERY FIRST THING THAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING when you pick that bar up is to attach your leash!!! This newer kiter proceeded to throw his bar and voila! RUNAWAY KITE! Luckily the bar got caught on a car and Randy grabbed the bar and Roy got to the kite real quickly and grabbed it.

Not 15 minutes later, a group of kids from Tallahassee decided that they would launch a 19 METER KITE and all the while the same girl that Roy rescued is shouting to the pilot how to launch!!! Well, he got the kite in the air after launching the kite in the wrong position, the kite started to climb on him, got into the power zone and looped! Luckily, the bar was thrown and the kite crashed in the dirt road right next to some spectators.

What I am trying to say in a nutshell...take instruction with CERTIFIED INSTRUCTORS, learn at EB unless extenuating circumstances arise and your instructor takes you elsewhere, hook your leash to the bar before you do ANYTHING else and when a rider is in trouble, HELP THEM IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!!!
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:14 AM
E-Bone
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Here's my take on the Skyway--it is an advanced kiting spot and should be avoided by all beginners and many intermediate riders if they are not riding there with an instructor. Why? Here's a few reasons:

The launch is tight. The entire time you are kiting, you are upwind of an interstate highway. There is sharp stuff out there that can gash you. There are rocks out there. The wind is unstable in certain spots, particularly at the launch. The water is deep to both the left and right of the main riding area and if you put your kite down in there and can not relaunch, you are probably going to get dragged to a rocky shore close to the highway. It is necessary to stay upwind when riding at the Skyway to stay out of trouble, no matter the wind direction. It interferes with the ability of even advanced riders at the Skyway to ride safely when a beginner is foundering 20 feet upwind of the beach with the kite at 12:00 o'clock. There are spectators who pull off I-275 to watch what is going on. It is crowded. There are many new riders who ride there who are a hazard to other riders on the water. If you lose your kite, it is probably going to be destroyed.

Perhaps some will counter by saying that on a NE, E, or SE wind, the Skyway is the closest place to them to ride. I think that is irrelevant to whether a rider should even be on the water there. That's like a new surfer saying that the closest break to him is Pipeline. The spot is still too heavy. When I was still learning to be independent as a rider, I avoided the Skyway for almost an entire year (after a kitemare there that almost involved going under the bridge) before deciding I was up to it. Part of being a kiteboarder is learning to identify your own limitations and then not push too far beyond them to avoid hurting yourself or someone else.

As far as helping others out, I see that going on all the time. I have given help and received help. Notwithstanding that, there is no duty on me to serve as a lifeguard and spend my session watching over other riders. Part of being a kiteboarder is knowing that when you go out, you will make certain that you come back in under your own power, not with the crew or the Coast Guard or a bystanding jet-skier or someone else performing a rescue. If you have doubt, don't go out. If you want someone to have your back, make a deal with a friend with more riding skill or hire an instructor for the session.

If you are unmoved by these warnings and must go out at the Skyway without a full bag of skillz, do this: launch, get in the water without delay, then (keeping the kite about 25 feet off of the water at the edge of the window), walk all the way out to the sandbar and start riding there. That way, you will have some downwind room to give and might actually be able to progress at the Skyway. It will take you 5 to 10 minutes to walk out there, so rig smaller, bring a bigger board, and maybe you won't get worked.
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:30 AM
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bryanleighty bryanleighty is offline
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i agree 100% eric. same deal here.. my instructor told me not to kite at skyway until i was able to ride upwind with ease.

i guess the bigger issue would be discussing how to approach those on the beach that obviously should not be there or are practicing unsafe habits.

i have a hard time confronting those that i dont know. some are much better at "helping a person understand" while i might come off with a "DUDE!! PUT ON A FU*KING LEASH"..

I need to work on my people skills.

serious tho..
if we all do our best to smile and give pointers to people in need (even if that pointer is to have them put down their kite), it will help.
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:40 AM
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on a positive note, it did seem like most riders stayed away from shore which i was happy about.... and not to many people stood on the beach with there kite in the air just chatting away, thats a definate plus, either ride or put the kite down....
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:57 PM
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toby wilson toby wilson is offline
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I still think that if someone is in trouble, help them. I don't care if it is a newbie or if it is Dmitri, spots WILL get banned and people WILL get hurt if the 'I'm not gonna babysit him' attitude continues...I agree with E-Bone in that a LOT of these guys simply shouldn't be riding the SW but simple fact is that MOST just won't listen and safety is a REAL issue here. Having the attitude of 'let their kite runaway into the mangroves' is not only the absolute WRONG approach in my opinion but the first time a kite hits an updraft and ends up on another car windshield on the highway and causes a fatality and gets us banned from the SW or someone actually gets hurt that YOU could have prevented by proactively assisting them when in trouble even if you cuss them out afterward, you WILL BE SORRY WITH THAT OUTCOME AND BLAME YOURSELF FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE...
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Old 10-16-2006, 03:31 PM
tomstock
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You are damn right about helping people by the rocks. I have ALWAYS made it a point to go down there and retrieve a kite or check on them.

ANY time someone has a kite in the water you should ride by and check on them. They could be unconcious, could be bleeding to death, or could just need someone to recover their board.

Maybe they will brush you off but maybe you will save their life.

Next, in my opinion (this is extreme I know), I don't believe beginners should ride at backside skyway. I think beginners who are up and riding should *avoid* the skyway and East Beach if there is a crowd. Wait until the crowd disperses a bit and then go out.

As for East Beach, it is just as dangerous if not MORE dangerous than the skyway. There are signs, trees, cars, people, slippery mud and grass, etc out there and even experienced riders have gotten hurt and almost killed out there. Bayflite Bryan has that nickname because of East Beach, and we had an experienced rider get seriously injured (surgery) a few months back because of the slippery mud at East Beach. I had a close call there when I made a newbie mistake and I am extremely fortunate to be alive and walking. I was dragged between the signs, trees, moving cars, and across the road on my stomach on a 18M kite in 30mph winds. At a big sand beach this would have been much less of a near death experience but at East Beach or the skyway it could easily have been fatal.

If it's light and empty, sure, but if there are 5+ riders out there, forget it.

I know, you're saying "Well, WHERE can I ride?"

Easy. Wait until the wind clocks west towards the end of the cold front. Then go to Big Beach Ft. Desoto (the standard place for beginners to ride) . There is plenty of room for walking up wind with kite, and there are no swimmers, and nothing dangerous to get dragged into. There is also 150 yards of grass land to catch your kite when you forget to connect your leash.

Once you fully understand the risks of riding at the crowded spots, then work your way in from the outside. I still try to avoid riding or jumping in the "jumping zone" at East Beach. This is the center of the beach where you'll find Jayson, Billy, Alex and some of the other guys trying unhooked stuff. Respect these guys and limit the amount of time you spend in that area. The sandbar is a nice place for beginners to eat shit.

Ok end rant... have fun, be safe.
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Old 10-16-2006, 03:56 PM
E-Bone
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I don't want to see bad things happen, but there is a certain amount of risk that attaches to trying to help another rider on the water, especially with runaway kites. I have tried to catch runaway kites before and, the one time I did catch the kite, I almost lost a thumb. The second time, I almost got caught in the lines again.

I am not one to stand idly by when the shit is hitting the fan. I have been helping out other riders for years now. Still, there needs to be an understanding here--and this is particularly important with new kiters--that there is no entitlement to rescue absent a special relationship.

If it is gnarly out and your kiting buddy with years of experience tells you, "no worries, bro', I got your back," you should expect that buddy to retrieve your board or approach you to try to help if you are getting hammered on the water. If you are taking a lesson and you are getting worked, you have a right to expect the instuctor to try to bail your ass out.

Otherwise, you don't have a claim on the crew out there to run after you if you are eating crap or to retrieve your board. There seems to be a recurring theme with new and intermediate kiters around here, blaming everything (the wind, the current, the kite, other riders, whatever), when things go wrong. That's bullshit. Each kiter is responsible for regulating his or her own kite. That's really what it comes down to. Keep your kite under control at all times. If you can't do that because of the difficulty of the spot or weather conditions, then don't launch the kite in the first place. Find an easier spot. Spend some more time with a trainer kite, get a kite with a better safety system, get more kites so you can rig appropriately for the wind, get some better board skillz at the cable park so you can focus more on the kite, or spend more time with an instructor.

So what about the board rescues that do go on? I got a few the other day, although it was a matter of convenience and did not involve potentially losing the board. My bros hooked me up. I'll get them a few beers. But I was never under the false impression than anyone had an obligation to grab my board and bitch it over to me. And had everyone said, screw you, get your own board, I would have.

I will never blame myself for the actions of others in the kite scene. As it stands, no one died and made me god. I make decisions for myself and no other kiter around here.

As a member of the "new old school" group of kiters here, I have spent plenty of effort talking to others, in person and on these forums, regarding how to do this sport without getting hammered needlessly. Compared to just a few years ago, there are so many more resources regarding safety and instruction available to newcomers to the sport today. It is up to them to learn how to be safe out there. Such a willingness to be responsible for themselves is what will make this scene better for everyone, which is why opposition to babysitting helps make our scene better, not worse.

Tom just noted a lot of local info that will help the beginner focus in on where and when the conditions will be best for him or her.

Also, in reality, as Tom noted, other riders will tend to check you out if you are down, out of courtesy. I did the run to the rocks on Saturday. I launched and landed plenty of kites on Sunday. I even went after someone's kite last season that just about made its way under the Skyway itself, which was a gnarly situation that had me crawling over submerged rocks and swimming without a PFD or harness in some stupid current. Understand that for what it is, however. It is courtesy. It is not duty. There is an important difference between the two concepts.

In this world, there is only one person who gives a shit about you in the whole scheme of things, and that person is you! Make sure you do what is necessary to keep yourself out of trouble. If you don't care enough to do so, why do you think that anyone else will?
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Old 10-16-2006, 04:18 PM
Skyway Scott
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Ahhh the Skyway. I remember when Zack and I were the only ones there on weekdays and maybe 6 guys would show on weekends (and they were all from Sarasota) and "too lazy" to drive all the way out to EB.

Good luck out there guys, keep it safe. Lots of stuff to figure out it sounds like.
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  #10  
Old 10-16-2006, 04:46 PM
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toby wilson toby wilson is offline
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Agreed E-Bone, good points. My problem here is that NONE of those common courtesies were done for this kiter who got in trouble because he was retrieving a board for someone else. Jeff, who is a newer kiter was the only one who went out to help. Almost ALL of the kiters on the beach were people I did not know and frankly it pisses me off to see the newer guys NOT help. They will SURELY be in the same situation someday.

As for what E-Bone said, I agree and I personally rode upwind of EVERYONE on Sunday afternoon. Even Randy's lesson. Not too hard with a 20.5 Machine and a UG MC 158... But if someone gets hurt at the Skyway, I GUARANTEE it will get banned...THAT is why we have to always TRY to help, even if we aren't "obligated" by friendship to do so. I would help any of you and I would hope that would be reciprocated if I ever get into serious trouble.
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