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Old 09-10-2004, 08:43 PM
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Fatality In Eckwarden

On March 21, 2004 an unstable weather system was passing over northern Germany bringing strong, gusty winds and rapid alternating periods of black clouds with intermittent sunshine. Many kiteboarders had discussed the poor weather forecast and decided not to ride until more suitable conditions returned. The air temperature was 7 to 9 C (45 to 48 F) with intermittent periods of frozen rain or sleet.



Eckwarden is situated in northern Germany near the North Sea on the Butjadinger peninsula as depicted below:


Maps from http://www.viamichelin.com/

The wind graph for Leuchtturn Alte Weser (situated offshore), located approximately 25 km (15 mi.) to the north northwest of Eckwarden is shown below.


Weather data courtesy of Oliver König of Windfinder.com



Winds around the time concerned of 12:00 to approximately 1:30 pm, ranged between 25 and 44 kts. An onsite estimate of the winds at Eckwarden of 30 to 40 kts. averaging 35 to 38 kts. was provided by the man that was an eyewitness. The launch of Eckwarden is preferred for kiteboarding for southerly winds as the jetty depicted below along with extensive shallows result in relatively calm water. As winds were almost directly onshore the water was choppy with .5 m (roughly 1.5 ft.) waves. Eckwarden is stated to be a poor and dangerous kiteboarding launch in westerly, onshore winds.

A view of Eckwarden from the NW is shown below at low tide. Note the jetty extending off frame to the right and the revetment (or amored asphalt covered rocks to protect the shoreline) and dike extending off to the left. A lighthouse appears in the center of the frame.


Image from: http://www.leuchtturm-atlas.de/PIC/Eckwar007.jpg

A closer view of the revetment and dike in nearby Eckwarder-Home situated to the south and east of Eckwarden appears below at a normal low tide.


Image from: http://www.sonneundnordsee.de/

The source for much of this account was both an eyewitness and active participant in the attempted avoidance and ultimately, the resolution of this sad accident. For purposes of this account this man will be referred to as the Samaritan (as in Good Samaritan). This man who is also an active kiteboarder, had been windsurfing, sometimes with difficulty with a 4 m sail. Other kiteboarders were present but opted to not kite given the violent, unstable weather and went windsurfing instead resulting in a total number of about 15 windsurfers.

At one point the Samaritan noticed three kiteboarders attempting to launch a kite. He walked over to take a closer look and was amazed to see that these men were planning on launching a 12 m EH Cabarete kite in unsuitably strong, gusty wind conditions. The Samaritan along with the other local riders had made a firm decision not to kiteboard in these adverse conditions but when I asked, he said that if he “HAD” to go out, he would have chosen a 5 m kite and nothing as large as a 12 m kite.

The Samaritan firmly told the men that it was a bad idea to try to launch a kite and particularly a 12 m kite in these conditions. He said that this was NOT a day to go kiteboarding and that no one else was going out kiting. After a while of trying unsuccessfully to convince these guys of the danger, he even offered to loan them a 5 m kite that he had in his car, IF they insisted on going out. The kiteboarder responded that he had 6, 8, 12 and 14 m kites in his car and that “he knew what he was doing.” The three kiteboarders were later estimated to be intermediate in skill.

One of the three kiteboarders had swum out into the water and was holding the kite for an assisted launch, another of the three was holding the kiteboarder by his harness handle while the kiteboarder was preparing to launch. The kite was launched but wasn’t readily controllable as there was a double twist in the two lines on one side of the kite. The riders had failed to carefully preflight the kite setup despite the violent wind conditions. The kiteboarder was being dragged along the shallows bordering the shore so the Samaritan jumped into the water and helped to hold on to the kiteboarder. The Samaritan warned them of a submerged erosion structure or steel/timber groin and said to simply depower the kite. Silke Gorldt struck such a structure during her fatal accident in Germany almost two years ago. Eventually the kiteboarder complied and the kite fell to the water. The third man collected the kite in the water and the Samaritan went to his car to warm up.

When the Samaritan returned to the shore he was astonished to see the three men in the distance repeating the launch process described above this time with an 8 m EH Cabarete kite. The kite had just been launched and was flying for about 10 seconds with the kiteboarder about 15 m (50 ft.) offshore. Suddenly the approximate 40 year old rider was lofted about 2 to 3 m (6 to 10 ft.) above the water and was blown towards the land by a strong onshore gust. The kiteboarder was observed to spin out of control 360 degrees in flight and then collide with the rock revetment at speed. The kite hit the surface and then relaunched a few more times, each time dragging the rider.


Rough diagram of accident layout

The Samaritan ran up to the kiteboarder within seconds of the impact. The kiteboarder was bleeding profusely from multiple head injuries and was noted to have a penetration injury behind one ear. The kiteboarder was wearing a neoprene hood for the cold conditions but was not wearing a helmet. The Samaritan called for a doctor and ambulance. The ambulance was estimated to take 25 minutes to arrive and the doctor 35 minutes. The Samaritan called back and described the injuries and suggested that the accident victim be transported to hospital by helicopter out of concern for the delay and bumpier ride of land transport. A doctor was windsurfing in the area and was brought to the accident scene to attend to the victim pending arrival of the emergency crew. The helicopter arrived within about 15 minutes. Prior to that time the victim was checked for a pulse but none was detected. The victim was transported to hospital by helicopter and was pronounced as deceased. My sincere regrets go out to this man's family and friends over this sad loss. I would also like to thank the Samaritan for all his efforts through this sad accident and for the information provided in the preparation of this account.


***

This avoidable accident was largely brought on by the failure to understand or appreciate the hazards present. This failure was further compounded by ignoring good, well intended and informed advice by the Samaritan. The significance of the abortive effort with the 12 m kite was apparently lost on the three kiteboarders. Several conclusions come to mind based upon the circumstances of this accident as reported to me and are discussed below. The conclusion of all of this is that no one should have launched to kiteboard at Eckwarden in those hazardous conditions. Some of the following comments are provided with less hazardous but still strong wind conditions in mind and are not provided to support launching in such extreme conditions as were present on that day.

1. Always check weather forecasts, weather radar if available along with current wind and patterns to verify that hazardous, unstable weather isn't present or pending during your session. If in doubt, talk to more experienced kiteboarders with a reputation for careful judgment. Ask other riders what size kites they are flying and how they are doing with their selections. If no one else is kiteboarding, that is an answer in itself. Refer to the manufacturers wind range table for your kite to verify that you are in the acceptable range if in doubt. Try to rig for the the lower to mid range for a kite and avoid going out overpowered. Be AWARE and plan for early and late kiteboarding season hazards. Our accident experience at the start and end of the season has not been good, so forwarned is forearmed.

2. Carefully evaluate current and forecast weather, your experience, gear and launch characteristics while carefully deciding IF, where, with what and when you plan to kiteboard.

3. ALWAYS carefully listen to and consider local and more experienced advice about conditions. If opinions aren't offered it would be wise to seek them out before rigging up to launch. TOO MANY riders have been needlessly injured by ignoring well intended advice from local kiteboarders. The words "I can handle it" or terms to that effect are commonly uttered by the soon to be accident victim in some of these cases. If you need to give advice to riders, bring your friends along, their presence will help to support the message and they have something to potentially lose in this as well (Access). There is a good chance that if you are reading this, that you are not the most likely person to place yourself into the way of such hazards, i.e. 'preaching to the chior." Still, we are all in this together so consider how to best communicate the realities of this sport IF you find yourself in a position to do so.

4. WHEN IN DOUBT, DON'T GO OUT or LIVE TO KITE ANOTHER DAY. No session is worth your life, particularly if the obvious hazards are stacked up before you. Your decisions effect more than just yourself so don't be selfish. One of the guys helping the rider might have been injured or perhaps a bystander or even rescue personnel. Ultimately, accidents like this threaten access for us all. Then there is the impact of such a tragic loss on family and friends that can last for a very long time.

5. Avoid onshore winds and launches which place you within 100 m (300 ft.), ideally of downwind hard objects. The nearby dike is an uplift lofting hazard. A fatality occurred in the Netherlands years ago following the uplift lofting of a new kiteboarder.

6. Carefully consider your proposed launch and if a better, safer one is in the area, take the extra time to go there. I am not certain if launch conditions are much more suitable but in LESS hazardous west wind conditions the riders might have walked around the corner to the Eckwarder area where the winds are side shore.

7. WEAR SAFETY GEAR including a good helmet, impact vest, gloves, hook knife, etc.. This is yet one more fatality in which a helmet MIGHT have reduce injury and improved the chances for survival. No helmet means no possible benefit whatsoever. Preflight your gear in a careful, methodical way. Preflighting several times in high wind conditions should be normal procedure. Rig your gear with polar or "kook proof" connectors. MAKE SURE that your chicken loop quick release mechanism and kite leash are well maintained, work and can be found almost without thought very rapidly. It is not know if the accident victim tried to depower or even if he had enough time to react before impact.

8. Try to KEEP IT LOW & GO. That is launch with your kite close to the water and out of lofting position overhead if site conditions support this approach. If you are hit by an overwhelming gust, you MIGHT be dragged instead of lofted. You can still be badly injured and even killed by dragging but at least IF you depower your kite quickly you are still on the ground. Given the overpowered conditions keeping the kite low might have resulted in a dragging injury almost as rapidly as the overhead lofting position did. Alternatively, small control input errors can be substantially amplified in strong conditions which could still result in a lofting EVEN if it was attempted to keep the kite low. So in this case and in other instances of unstable weather the answer is simple, don't launch in the first place.

9. Give careful consideration to the ideas presented at the following link. They are largely derived from analysis of accidents that have happened for years, that is how to try to avoid future repetitions.

http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2300704

The lure of "extreme acts" potentially amplified by severe conditions can be overwhelming to some. To sucumb to this lure without fundamental appreciation of the hazards involved and suitable preparation and experience to improve the odds of the encounter is a very poor risk. This is akin to driving very close behind another car in blinding rain at high speed, or skiing off-pieste in avalanche and/or crevasse terrain without much of a clue, or running on ice with a large knife in your hand. Some activities are doomed with a much higher probability of tragic failure. Such failure will not always occur, only more of the time, sometimes much more. It is an avoidable waste but people are sometimes motivated to do this anyway as many of these avoidable accidents support. Remember, your choices can effect FAR more people than just yourself, like it or not.

The Good Samaritan that provided this account said that he can't find words to explain this accident. He felt that an accident was inevidable under the severe conditions. He further said that we need to learn how to effectively communicate to people that we are on their side when giving advice and that we need to stay together particularly on such critical issues. ** We should discuss this question among ourselves and try to come up with some effective answers. When it comes to Safety & Sustainability of this sport, we are all in this together. If other information is available please send it to me via PM or email to <flkitesurfer@hotmail.com>. Comments and content may be added to this account over the next day or so.

COPYRIGHT 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 FKA, INC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
__________________
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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  #2  
Old 09-10-2004, 08:43 PM
RickI's Avatar
RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,676
Default Expanded KSI Accounts 1

Fatality In Eckwarden

On March 21, 2004 an unstable weather system was passing over northern Germany bringing strong, gusty winds and rapid alternating periods of black clouds with intermittent sunshine. Many kiteboarders had discussed the poor weather forecast and decided not to ride until more suitable conditions returned. The air temperature was 7 to 9 C (45 to 48 F) with intermittent periods of frozen rain or sleet.



Eckwarden is situated in northern Germany near the North Sea on the Butjadinger peninsula as depicted below:


Maps from http://www.viamichelin.com/

The wind graph for Leuchtturn Alte Weser (situated offshore), located approximately 25 km (15 mi.) to the north northwest of Eckwarden is shown below.


Weather data courtesy of Oliver König of Windfinder.com



Winds around the time concerned of 12:00 to approximately 1:30 pm, ranged between 25 and 44 kts. An onsite estimate of the winds at Eckwarden of 30 to 40 kts. averaging 35 to 38 kts. was provided by the man that was an eyewitness. The launch of Eckwarden is preferred for kiteboarding for southerly winds as the jetty depicted below along with extensive shallows result in relatively calm water. As winds were almost directly onshore the water was choppy with .5 m (roughly 1.5 ft.) waves. Eckwarden is stated to be a poor and dangerous kiteboarding launch in westerly, onshore winds.

A view of Eckwarden from the NW is shown below at low tide. Note the jetty extending off frame to the right and the revetment (or amored asphalt covered rocks to protect the shoreline) and dike extending off to the left. A lighthouse appears in the center of the frame.


Image from: http://www.leuchtturm-atlas.de/PIC/Eckwar007.jpg

A closer view of the revetment and dike in nearby Eckwarder-Home situated to the south and east of Eckwarden appears below at a normal low tide.


Image from: http://www.sonneundnordsee.de/

The source for much of this account was both an eyewitness and active participant in the attempted avoidance and ultimately, the resolution of this sad accident. For purposes of this account this man will be referred to as the Samaritan (as in Good Samaritan). This man who is also an active kiteboarder, had been windsurfing, sometimes with difficulty with a 4 m sail. Other kiteboarders were present but opted to not kite given the violent, unstable weather and went windsurfing instead resulting in a total number of about 15 windsurfers.

At one point the Samaritan noticed three kiteboarders attempting to launch a kite. He walked over to take a closer look and was amazed to see that these men were planning on launching a 12 m EH Cabarete kite in unsuitably strong, gusty wind conditions. The Samaritan along with the other local riders had made a firm decision not to kiteboard in these adverse conditions but when I asked, he said that if he “HAD” to go out, he would have chosen a 5 m kite and nothing as large as a 12 m kite.

The Samaritan firmly told the men that it was a bad idea to try to launch a kite and particularly a 12 m kite in these conditions. He said that this was NOT a day to go kiteboarding and that no one else was going out kiting. After a while of trying unsuccessfully to convince these guys of the danger, he even offered to loan them a 5 m kite that he had in his car, IF they insisted on going out. The kiteboarder responded that he had 6, 8, 12 and 14 m kites in his car and that “he knew what he was doing.” The three kiteboarders were later estimated to be intermediate in skill.

One of the three kiteboarders had swum out into the water and was holding the kite for an assisted launch, another of the three was holding the kiteboarder by his harness handle while the kiteboarder was preparing to launch. The kite was launched but wasn’t readily controllable as there was a double twist in the two lines on one side of the kite. The riders had failed to carefully preflight the kite setup despite the violent wind conditions. The kiteboarder was being dragged along the shallows bordering the shore so the Samaritan jumped into the water and helped to hold on to the kiteboarder. The Samaritan warned them of a submerged erosion structure or steel/timber groin and said to simply depower the kite. Silke Gorldt struck such a structure during her fatal accident in Germany almost two years ago. Eventually the kiteboarder complied and the kite fell to the water. The third man collected the kite in the water and the Samaritan went to his car to warm up.

When the Samaritan returned to the shore he was astonished to see the three men in the distance repeating the launch process described above this time with an 8 m EH Cabarete kite. The kite had just been launched and was flying for about 10 seconds with the kiteboarder about 15 m (50 ft.) offshore. Suddenly the approximate 40 year old rider was lofted about 2 to 3 m (6 to 10 ft.) above the water and was blown towards the land by a strong onshore gust. The kiteboarder was observed to spin out of control 360 degrees in flight and then collide with the rock revetment at speed. The kite hit the surface and then relaunched a few more times, each time dragging the rider.


Rough diagram of accident layout

The Samaritan ran up to the kiteboarder within seconds of the impact. The kiteboarder was bleeding profusely from multiple head injuries and was noted to have a penetration injury behind one ear. The kiteboarder was wearing a neoprene hood for the cold conditions but was not wearing a helmet. The Samaritan called for a doctor and ambulance. The ambulance was estimated to take 25 minutes to arrive and the doctor 35 minutes. The Samaritan called back and described the injuries and suggested that the accident victim be transported to hospital by helicopter out of concern for the delay and bumpier ride of land transport. A doctor was windsurfing in the area and was brought to the accident scene to attend to the victim pending arrival of the emergency crew. The helicopter arrived within about 15 minutes. Prior to that time the victim was checked for a pulse but none was detected. The victim was transported to hospital by helicopter and was pronounced as deceased. My sincere regrets go out to this man's family and friends over this sad loss. I would also like to thank the Samaritan for all his efforts through this sad accident and for the information provided in the preparation of this account.


***

This avoidable accident was largely brought on by the failure to understand or appreciate the hazards present. This failure was further compounded by ignoring good, well intended and informed advice by the Samaritan. The significance of the abortive effort with the 12 m kite was apparently lost on the three kiteboarders. Several conclusions come to mind based upon the circumstances of this accident as reported to me and are discussed below. The conclusion of all of this is that no one should have launched to kiteboard at Eckwarden in those hazardous conditions. Some of the following comments are provided with less hazardous but still strong wind conditions in mind and are not provided to support launching in such extreme conditions as were present on that day.

1. Always check weather forecasts, weather radar if available along with current wind and patterns to verify that hazardous, unstable weather isn't present or pending during your session. If in doubt, talk to more experienced kiteboarders with a reputation for careful judgment. Ask other riders what size kites they are flying and how they are doing with their selections. If no one else is kiteboarding, that is an answer in itself. Refer to the manufacturers wind range table for your kite to verify that you are in the acceptable range if in doubt. Try to rig for the the lower to mid range for a kite and avoid going out overpowered. Be AWARE and plan for early and late kiteboarding season hazards. Our accident experience at the start and end of the season has not been good, so forwarned is forearmed.

2. Carefully evaluate current and forecast weather, your experience, gear and launch characteristics while carefully deciding IF, where, with what and when you plan to kiteboard.

3. ALWAYS carefully listen to and consider local and more experienced advice about conditions. If opinions aren't offered it would be wise to seek them out before rigging up to launch. TOO MANY riders have been needlessly injured by ignoring well intended advice from local kiteboarders. The words "I can handle it" or terms to that effect are commonly uttered by the soon to be accident victim in some of these cases. If you need to give advice to riders, bring your friends along, their presence will help to support the message and they have something to potentially lose in this as well (Access). There is a good chance that if you are reading this, that you are not the most likely person to place yourself into the way of such hazards, i.e. 'preaching to the chior." Still, we are all in this together so consider how to best communicate the realities of this sport IF you find yourself in a position to do so.

4. WHEN IN DOUBT, DON'T GO OUT or LIVE TO KITE ANOTHER DAY. No session is worth your life, particularly if the obvious hazards are stacked up before you. Your decisions effect more than just yourself so don't be selfish. One of the guys helping the rider might have been injured or perhaps a bystander or even rescue personnel. Ultimately, accidents like this threaten access for us all. Then there is the impact of such a tragic loss on family and friends that can last for a very long time.

5. Avoid onshore winds and launches which place you within 100 m (300 ft.), ideally of downwind hard objects. The nearby dike is an uplift lofting hazard. A fatality occurred in the Netherlands years ago following the uplift lofting of a new kiteboarder.

6. Carefully consider your proposed launch and if a better, safer one is in the area, take the extra time to go there. I am not certain if launch conditions are much more suitable but in LESS hazardous west wind conditions the riders might have walked around the corner to the Eckwarder area where the winds are side shore.

7. WEAR SAFETY GEAR including a good helmet, impact vest, gloves, hook knife, etc.. This is yet one more fatality in which a helmet MIGHT have reduce injury and improved the chances for survival. No helmet means no possible benefit whatsoever. Preflight your gear in a careful, methodical way. Preflighting several times in high wind conditions should be normal procedure. Rig your gear with polar or "kook proof" connectors. MAKE SURE that your chicken loop quick release mechanism and kite leash are well maintained, work and can be found almost without thought very rapidly. It is not know if the accident victim tried to depower or even if he had enough time to react before impact.

8. Try to KEEP IT LOW & GO. That is launch with your kite close to the water and out of lofting position overhead if site conditions support this approach. If you are hit by an overwhelming gust, you MIGHT be dragged instead of lofted. You can still be badly injured and even killed by dragging but at least IF you depower your kite quickly you are still on the ground. Given the overpowered conditions keeping the kite low might have resulted in a dragging injury almost as rapidly as the overhead lofting position did. Alternatively, small control input errors can be substantially amplified in strong conditions which could still result in a lofting EVEN if it was attempted to keep the kite low. So in this case and in other instances of unstable weather the answer is simple, don't launch in the first place.

9. Give careful consideration to the ideas presented at the following link. They are largely derived from analysis of accidents that have happened for years, that is how to try to avoid future repetitions.

http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2300704

The lure of "extreme acts" potentially amplified by severe conditions can be overwhelming to some. To sucumb to this lure without fundamental appreciation of the hazards involved and suitable preparation and experience to improve the odds of the encounter is a very poor risk. This is akin to driving very close behind another car in blinding rain at high speed, or skiing off-pieste in avalanche and/or crevasse terrain without much of a clue, or running on ice with a large knife in your hand. Some activities are doomed with a much higher probability of tragic failure. Such failure will not always occur, only more of the time, sometimes much more. It is an avoidable waste but people are sometimes motivated to do this anyway as many of these avoidable accidents support. Remember, your choices can effect FAR more people than just yourself, like it or not.

The Good Samaritan that provided this account said that he can't find words to explain this accident. He felt that an accident was inevidable under the severe conditions. He further said that we need to learn how to effectively communicate to people that we are on their side when giving advice and that we need to stay together particularly on such critical issues. ** We should discuss this question among ourselves and try to come up with some effective answers. When it comes to Safety & Sustainability of this sport, we are all in this together. If other information is available please send it to me via PM or email to <flkitesurfer@hotmail.com>. Comments and content may be added to this account over the next day or so.

COPYRIGHT 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 FKA, INC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
__________________
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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  #3  
Old 09-10-2004, 08:45 PM
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Default Fatality In Holland

I send my sincere regrets and wish for solace to the family, friends of this man and to all kiteboarders in the Netherlands.

The accident involved a kiteboarder of two seasons experience who was also an IKO instructor. The rider had a reputation for being cautious. The accident occurred at Slufter or Maasvlakte in southwestern Holland along the North Sea Coast on November 26, 2003 at about 1300 (1 pm). Where accounts differ, two or more variations are given.


Slufter is located approximately 21 km (30 miles), west of Rotterdam and south of a shipping channel.


An aerial view of the general Slufter area showing the location of the accident.

Winds were reported to be 6-7 Beauford (22 to 33 kts.) and gusting to as high as 37 kts. near onshore to side onshore as depicted below with an air temperature around 10 C (51 F):


A view of the launch area showing the line of poles, approximate wind direction, launch and accident locations.

Other riders had been out earlier but had come in to avoid rain that had been forecast for the afternoon. The rider was assumed to have been excited about getting out to try a new kiteboard. Perhaps because he was eager to get out, he did some things out of the ordinary for him, including:

1.He brought along a reel leash presumably to take care of his new board,

2.He forgot to bring his helmet which he customarily wore.

The rider weighed around 100 to 110 kg (220 to 240 lbs.) and had rigged a Naish 8 m, Aero II. His bar was rigged with an unspecified chicken loop quick release. Riders that had been out earlier in the day were using 8 to 10 m kites in similar wind conditions with no reported problems.

It has been indicated that even though the beach is quite large that there are constraints on kite launching. The area to the left of the line of posts shown in the photo is a closed, environmentally protected area. The area to the right of the posts in the downwind direction becomes deep rapidly and has a very strong current making launching difficult. These constraints apparently motivated the rider to launch approximately 30 m (100 ft.), upwind of the line of timber pilings that had been driven into the sand as shown in the photo.

The rider rigged and launched on his own. He reportedly walked up to where his board was located near the waters edge and knelt down to attach his reel leash to the board. Presumably he was facing seaward at this point. The time was about two hours before high tide. His kite was overhead or at the zenith at this point. The kite was flying fast and was a bit “nervous” or unstable, presumably due to the influence gusty winds and higher aspect kite. In the course of trying to attach the leash the kite instability and correction caused him to slide across the sand a short distance. The next time this happened presumably the rider overcorrected and pulled down on the bar too hard and initiated a kite loop. The kite was seen to travel from left to right at high speed during this time, moving the rider downwind. The kite lofted him a distance of about 6 m horizontally over the sand and then dragged him an additional 25 m to impact one of the wooden posts head first at speed.

Another observer account indicated that he was dragged a short distance over the beach on one knee and the other foot. He stood up to get back into control but then he fell forward and in trying to regain balance he pulled hard on one side of the bar initiating the kite loop.

One other observer account had the rider trying to put on his board reel leash in the shallows when the kite loop was initiated.

Reportedly, the rider didn’t have sufficient time to react and pull his quick release. It is possible that the rider may have lost consciousness following the impact after the initial 6 m lofting. Once the kiteboarder achieved a speed over ground approaching wind speed, 100 m could have been covered in seconds. The kiteboarder reportedly died upon impact. The rider was not wearing a helmet or impact vest. The kite, lines, quick release and bar were inspected and reported to be undamaged and in proper working order.

I wish to thank all the many individuals who assisted in the preparation of this document by providing information. If there are corrections or omitted information please notify me via private email to (flkitesurfer@hotmail.com)

This accident underscores how small choices and errors can be very substantially amplified in high winds potentially with severe consequences. Things can go from annoying to disastrous in seconds, sometimes leaving the kiteboarder with few viable reactions in the minimal time available. If you launch in high winds it is a given that your factor of safety automatically is reduced.

It has been said before but it is worth saying again here. Kiteboarding can seem to be deceptively easy and safe for that matter. This tendency has encouraged marginal kiteboarding practices for sometime because riders often get away unscathed.

Rushing to the beach and rig up has been a factor in many kiteboarding accidents. Considering the tremendous force and speed of events in a kiteboarding accident haste to rig up has no place in this sport especially in strong winds, as hard as it might be to resist. Try to carry spare gear in your car or bag to avoid having to try to “make due” with a less than ideal setup.

A few ideas come out of this account that could help to avoid repetition of similar accidents:

1.KEEP IT LOW AND GO!

That is launch with your kite closest to the water, get it a short distance above the surface 3 to 6 m (10 to 20 ft.) and walk down to the water, pickup your board and proceed offshore without delay. If something goes wrong, in THEORY you should be dragged into the water. It is possible to accidentally initiate a kite loop even with your kite low, particularly in a lull followed by a gust. Particular care in kite handling especially in strong winds is critical.

2.WHEN IN DOUBT, PUNCH OUT!

If your launch is not going as planned, punch out or depower your kite immediately. Many kiteboarders have been injured by trying to keep control of things a bit too long. This precaution is particularly critical in strong winds in which the margin for error may be very small.

3.Always maintain careful control over your kite at all times.

In higher winds, continuous proper kite control is critical. Accidentally initiating a kite loop is not too difficult and correcting for the speed and momentum of a kite flying at high speed can be difficult and time consuming. Work to keep both hands on your kite and if you MUST use a board leash, have someone else put it on for you. The process of attaching an ankle cuff with a flying kite particularly in high wind is quite hazardous.

4.Maintain a minimum 100 m downwind buffer from hard objects.

In higher winds, even more space may be needed as this sad accident clearly establishes. If your launch doesn’t have an adequate downwind buffer, find another launch, even if you have to drive an hour or more away. How much extra travel time is your health or the rest of your life worth to you?

5.Don’t use board leashes.

The majority of riders should be able to cope without use of board leashes. Body dragging is often a viable substitute for board leash use. This could be the second or perhaps even the third fatality that was contributed to by board leash use. If you must use a board leash (cold/hypothermic waters, contrary currents, etc.), accept that you might be seriously injured by this choice and ALWAYS have a helper attach your board leash to your body for you. It is quite easy to lose control of your kite when leaning over to attach the board leash. High winds only amplify the hazard.

6.Work to launch and land unhooked.

This accident would likely have never happened if the rider had launched unhooked and didn’t use a board leash or at least had someone attach the board leash for him. Launching unhooked in strong winds can be a challenge. Use of a reliable Automatic Kite Depower (AKD) would also likely spared the rider this sad accident. AKDs have recently come under closer scrutiny and concept development. We need to develop reliable AKDs . More about this at:

http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2300682

7.Always wear a good helmet, impact vest and other appropriate safety gear.

It is difficult to say if a helmet would improve survivorship or not. If the rider lost consciousness after the first 6 m lofting, it might have keep him conscious and able to perhaps avoid impact. In the milliseconds on impact, who knows what is going to strike, whether it will be a glancing blow, etc. Don’t get hung up on helmets. Just pick a good one, where it whenever you ride and forget you have it on. Safety gear is for just in case.

Originally posted at:

http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2297800
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Old 09-10-2004, 08:45 PM
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Default Fatality In Holland

I send my sincere regrets and wish for solace to the family, friends of this man and to all kiteboarders in the Netherlands.

The accident involved a kiteboarder of two seasons experience who was also an IKO instructor. The rider had a reputation for being cautious. The accident occurred at Slufter or Maasvlakte in southwestern Holland along the North Sea Coast on November 26, 2003 at about 1300 (1 pm). Where accounts differ, two or more variations are given.


Slufter is located approximately 21 km (30 miles), west of Rotterdam and south of a shipping channel.


An aerial view of the general Slufter area showing the location of the accident.

Winds were reported to be 6-7 Beauford (22 to 33 kts.) and gusting to as high as 37 kts. near onshore to side onshore as depicted below with an air temperature around 10 C (51 F):


A view of the launch area showing the line of poles, approximate wind direction, launch and accident locations.

Other riders had been out earlier but had come in to avoid rain that had been forecast for the afternoon. The rider was assumed to have been excited about getting out to try a new kiteboard. Perhaps because he was eager to get out, he did some things out of the ordinary for him, including:

1.He brought along a reel leash presumably to take care of his new board,

2.He forgot to bring his helmet which he customarily wore.

The rider weighed around 100 to 110 kg (220 to 240 lbs.) and had rigged a Naish 8 m, Aero II. His bar was rigged with an unspecified chicken loop quick release. Riders that had been out earlier in the day were using 8 to 10 m kites in similar wind conditions with no reported problems.

It has been indicated that even though the beach is quite large that there are constraints on kite launching. The area to the left of the line of posts shown in the photo is a closed, environmentally protected area. The area to the right of the posts in the downwind direction becomes deep rapidly and has a very strong current making launching difficult. These constraints apparently motivated the rider to launch approximately 30 m (100 ft.), upwind of the line of timber pilings that had been driven into the sand as shown in the photo.

The rider rigged and launched on his own. He reportedly walked up to where his board was located near the waters edge and knelt down to attach his reel leash to the board. Presumably he was facing seaward at this point. The time was about two hours before high tide. His kite was overhead or at the zenith at this point. The kite was flying fast and was a bit “nervous” or unstable, presumably due to the influence gusty winds and higher aspect kite. In the course of trying to attach the leash the kite instability and correction caused him to slide across the sand a short distance. The next time this happened presumably the rider overcorrected and pulled down on the bar too hard and initiated a kite loop. The kite was seen to travel from left to right at high speed during this time, moving the rider downwind. The kite lofted him a distance of about 6 m horizontally over the sand and then dragged him an additional 25 m to impact one of the wooden posts head first at speed.

Another observer account indicated that he was dragged a short distance over the beach on one knee and the other foot. He stood up to get back into control but then he fell forward and in trying to regain balance he pulled hard on one side of the bar initiating the kite loop.

One other observer account had the rider trying to put on his board reel leash in the shallows when the kite loop was initiated.

Reportedly, the rider didn’t have sufficient time to react and pull his quick release. It is possible that the rider may have lost consciousness following the impact after the initial 6 m lofting. Once the kiteboarder achieved a speed over ground approaching wind speed, 100 m could have been covered in seconds. The kiteboarder reportedly died upon impact. The rider was not wearing a helmet or impact vest. The kite, lines, quick release and bar were inspected and reported to be undamaged and in proper working order.

I wish to thank all the many individuals who assisted in the preparation of this document by providing information. If there are corrections or omitted information please notify me via private email to (flkitesurfer@hotmail.com)

This accident underscores how small choices and errors can be very substantially amplified in high winds potentially with severe consequences. Things can go from annoying to disastrous in seconds, sometimes leaving the kiteboarder with few viable reactions in the minimal time available. If you launch in high winds it is a given that your factor of safety automatically is reduced.

It has been said before but it is worth saying again here. Kiteboarding can seem to be deceptively easy and safe for that matter. This tendency has encouraged marginal kiteboarding practices for sometime because riders often get away unscathed.

Rushing to the beach and rig up has been a factor in many kiteboarding accidents. Considering the tremendous force and speed of events in a kiteboarding accident haste to rig up has no place in this sport especially in strong winds, as hard as it might be to resist. Try to carry spare gear in your car or bag to avoid having to try to “make due” with a less than ideal setup.

A few ideas come out of this account that could help to avoid repetition of similar accidents:

1.KEEP IT LOW AND GO!

That is launch with your kite closest to the water, get it a short distance above the surface 3 to 6 m (10 to 20 ft.) and walk down to the water, pickup your board and proceed offshore without delay. If something goes wrong, in THEORY you should be dragged into the water. It is possible to accidentally initiate a kite loop even with your kite low, particularly in a lull followed by a gust. Particular care in kite handling especially in strong winds is critical.

2.WHEN IN DOUBT, PUNCH OUT!

If your launch is not going as planned, punch out or depower your kite immediately. Many kiteboarders have been injured by trying to keep control of things a bit too long. This precaution is particularly critical in strong winds in which the margin for error may be very small.

3.Always maintain careful control over your kite at all times.

In higher winds, continuous proper kite control is critical. Accidentally initiating a kite loop is not too difficult and correcting for the speed and momentum of a kite flying at high speed can be difficult and time consuming. Work to keep both hands on your kite and if you MUST use a board leash, have someone else put it on for you. The process of attaching an ankle cuff with a flying kite particularly in high wind is quite hazardous.

4.Maintain a minimum 100 m downwind buffer from hard objects.

In higher winds, even more space may be needed as this sad accident clearly establishes. If your launch doesn’t have an adequate downwind buffer, find another launch, even if you have to drive an hour or more away. How much extra travel time is your health or the rest of your life worth to you?

5.Don’t use board leashes.

The majority of riders should be able to cope without use of board leashes. Body dragging is often a viable substitute for board leash use. This could be the second or perhaps even the third fatality that was contributed to by board leash use. If you must use a board leash (cold/hypothermic waters, contrary currents, etc.), accept that you might be seriously injured by this choice and ALWAYS have a helper attach your board leash to your body for you. It is quite easy to lose control of your kite when leaning over to attach the board leash. High winds only amplify the hazard.

6.Work to launch and land unhooked.

This accident would likely have never happened if the rider had launched unhooked and didn’t use a board leash or at least had someone attach the board leash for him. Launching unhooked in strong winds can be a challenge. Use of a reliable Automatic Kite Depower (AKD) would also likely spared the rider this sad accident. AKDs have recently come under closer scrutiny and concept development. We need to develop reliable AKDs . More about this at:

http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2300682

7.Always wear a good helmet, impact vest and other appropriate safety gear.

It is difficult to say if a helmet would improve survivorship or not. If the rider lost consciousness after the first 6 m lofting, it might have keep him conscious and able to perhaps avoid impact. In the milliseconds on impact, who knows what is going to strike, whether it will be a glancing blow, etc. Don’t get hung up on helmets. Just pick a good one, where it whenever you ride and forget you have it on. Safety gear is for just in case.

Originally posted at:

http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2297800
__________________
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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