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Old 05-16-2005, 09:59 PM
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ricki ricki is offline
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"Rider Goes BIG! ... falls far, HITS HARD!

Miami Kiteboarding Competition

(Photo Courtesy of Rick Iossi)

imagine ...

You are flying through the sky on a clear, blue sunny Florida day and can see for miles! You are in the midst of something exciting and extreme, the cameras are rolling and you are stoked! Then ... things go wrong, very wrong. You are ripped from your kite, sickly plummeting from a height of 150 feet, wildly out of control. You see your life charge blindingly before your eyes and in seconds feel you are DONE.

Then you SLAM IN and the world goes BLACK! .... PERMANENTLY?

Neil Hutchinson says...


If you don't give a damn, and choose to be STUPID (CTBS), like so many riders these days, THEN STOP READING NOW. The Darwin Awards for singularly astonishing ways of needlessly and stupidly ending your life are probably looking for a few kiteboarders.

If you care about staying fit enough to keep shredding and learn from Neil's hard won lessons, read on.

Neil Hutchinson is no stranger to extreme sports or putting it all on the line. He was one of the three riders to complete the world record Red Bull crossing from Key West to Cuba in insanely rough 10 to 17 ft. steep seas. If the wind didn't rip him skyward off the crest of a roiling following wave, he would power dive down the face of the wave at frightening speed. Talk about ''Blue Crush!''

He was over powered for almost 8.5 hrs. and claimed he would ''make it on his board or in a body bag!'' He made it on the board for those that were wondering. Neil has been shredding hard for three years and in the last couple has been competing as a professional in a variety of kiteboarding competitions. He recently returned from a session in honking wind conditions in the Ford Gorge Games. He has also been running parasailing boats for 11 years and knows his way very well around paragliding. He is a hard edged, skillful kiteboarding competitor and singularly well accomplished shredder. Oh ... and he is the only person I know that can shred while holding a cig and a beer!

Neil, after landing in Cuba

'' ... anyone got a beer and some cigs?''

(Photo courtesy of Red Bull 2001)

Neil and another pro rider had gotten together with some professional photographers to shoot some sick riding footage recently in Florida. There was a problem through .... NO

WIND! So he figured well, I will just tow high off the water under a large kiteboarding kite, pop loose and style in prime form all the way to the base. It isn't that different from parasailing after all? (WRONG!) The first flight went ok or at least no one went to the hospital, yet. Neil towed up to about 80 ft. before popping the snap shackle and falling slowly to the water. He was hooked into to a regular kiteboarding harness with the snap shackle connecting him to the 150 ft. towline attached to the handle strap on the BACK of the harness. In other words, HE WAS BEING TOWED ALOFT BACKWARDS. So all this and seeing the world behind you as you are pulled up to the height of an eight story building.

On the second, ill fated tow, he made it to about 80 ft. again. The cameras were running which is like dumping fuel on a fire for many riders. You get stoked and feel the need to get high and extreme. So, judgment is shoved into the backseat and with adrenaline pumping you GO FOR MORE. Neil says in the face of cameras DON'T FALL INTO THIS TRAP! Stick to the familiar and be cool, you will stay healthier!

So, at about 80 ft. on the second tow, Neil cycled his kite or whipped it up to build up apparent wind speed AND ALTITUDE. Did I mention that Neil had a board on for this tow? Following this powering up maneuver while being towed at high speed, he had lifted almost vertically to the FULL EXTENT OF THE LINE at almost 150 FEET OFF THE WATER. Looking up he noticed his kite looked like it was going to burst any second under the unusually strong force. He reached behind him to release the towline snap shackle but the load became just too great and BROKE THE HARNESS LINE that connected the control bar to his harness hook. So, just like a cartoon figure, there he was for a split second with one end of the bar in his hand feeling lost and quite sick. He was then ripped free from the bar and the haven of his kite and started blasting towards the water out of control. He only remembers looking down, seeing the water and thinking ... OH GOD, I AM DONE... He said the events of his life literally flashed across his mind just as they say in the movies. He doesn't remember the slamming in as he was concussed into unconsciousness on impact.

They say that God takes care of little children, drunks ... and kiteboarders? In this case it was very true. The water all around the area was only a few feet deep, not enough to keep someone falling from 150 ft. from hammering a hole into the bottom and flashing into the great beyond with no appeal. There was a narrow channel, bordered by hard shallows and Neil incredibly hit the deep water of the channel. Fortune was still on his side, in a warped sense. He has it on medical authority that if he had hit on his back, front or vertically he truly would have been done on the spot in a violent, devastating way. Lastly, his board thankfully disappeared before impact. So, aside from that first part and the really big step, he was blessed.

So, on greeting earth again or actually water, he bashed himself into the ''Land of Nod'' followed by a panic flight by car to the hospital. Neil returned to the world in the hospital, amazingly with no broken bones, brain hemorrhaging, only some monumental bruising, nausea and lung tissue injury based upon some bloody froth. So Neil is resting and healing, this only happened in mid August 2002. He is a trooper and will soon be back at kiteboarding shredding for all he is worth. One thing he tells me he will not be doing is towing aloft with a kite ... EVER AGAIN.

Neil says that nothing about a kiteboarding setup is designed for the forces and emergencies that could easily happen under towing, like:

-splitting or tearing kite, (nothing easier under excessive loading)

-breaking kite or bridle line (a relatively common occurrence)

-breaking harness or harness line (another relatively common occurrence)

-kite stalling (happens ALL the time)

-or any of another dozen potential occurrences that will likely result in serious injury or WORSE!


So, lets see that makes reports of a French kiteboarding instructor with a BROKEN

BACK, another rider in Australia seriously injured and hospitalized and other stories from around the world about pain and injuries following the misuse of kiteboarding gear by towing with it. Neil says that if you want to tow up, get a parasailing rig, it has been carefully designed and evolved for this use over decades. If you want to soar or glide get a paraglider or hang glider. Makes sense to me. If you want to do the equivalent of taking shelter from a hurricane behind a cocktail umbrella, try kite towing ... oh, and don't forget to register for the Darwin Awards, while you still can!

So, take it from Neil ... DON'T TOW KITES

Fly safe and smart,

Rick Iossi

ÆÉ Rick Iossi 2002

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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