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Old 10-27-2006, 08:30 AM
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I very much regret what happened to this rider and the loss of his life. I apologize to his family and friends for posting this summary so soon after his passing.

Still, I think a number of important lessons are contained in this sad accident that may help others in the future. Perhaps in the near future with the wide use of flat kites, riders going out in apparently unprecedented numbers in weather extremes and stormy November approaching.
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:31 AM
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Summary

- A new 265 lb., 5"11" rider was working on waterstarting on his board with a 12 m flat kite in 20 to 25 kt.
winds possibly gusting to around 35 kts..

- After working about 2300 ft. downwind, his kite hit the water and then relaunched. It proceeded to loop
dragging the rider about another 4600 ft. downwind and up the beach.

- Other kiters ran down the beach and found the man to be not breathing and rendered first aid. He
was later pronounced as deceased from a heart attack.

- The bypass leash had accidentally clipped in one of the steering line leaders out of reach of the
rider causing the kite to loop out of control (see below).

Kiters should AVOID carrying any clip or device that can easily capture and hold kite lines.
This sort of clip is WIDELY used in the industry for kite leashes.


A different type of clip in a different location resulted in identical out of control kite behavior last year.
More HERE under "New Rider & Corkscrew Of Death"

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Old 10-27-2006, 08:31 AM
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Additional details follow.





The accident involved a 33 year old male, 1.8 m in height and 120 kg. in weight (5' 11" and 264 lbs.). The man was potentially overweight but was not noted to become out of breath easily with exercise. The victim reportedly had a cold a few days before but was not apparently demonstrating obvious symptoms on the day of the accident. Neither the man nor his family apparently have a history of heart problems.

The side to side shore wind conditions were averaging 20 to 25 kts. gusting in sudden bursts to perhaps around 35 kts. with lulls to around 20 kts.. The air temperature was about 25 C and the water temperature was perhaps around 15 C (77 F and 59 F). The victim was in a full wetsuit of unknown thickness. The rider was in waist deep water with seas in that area at around 3 ft. He had taken a few lessons in another city and was working on learning to water start on his board the day of the accident. He was flying a 12 m Turbodiesel flat kite.


A view upwind to the southeast towards the Sir Lowry's Pass mountains.

These mountains are about 1100 m above sea level (ASL), in the higher areas. SE winds would be blowing over the lower mountain area to the north, probably between 700 - 900 m ASL. These mountains can create violent gusts and lulls particularly further to the east along The Strand in easterly winds.

The rider had moved about 700 m (2300 ft.) downwind working on waterstarting. The kite fell to the water at one point and upon relaunching proceeded to loop, hit the water and loop again pulling the rider along probably at a high rate of speed. This process continued over a distance of approximately 1200 m (about 4000 ft.) and 200 m (660 ft.) up the beach at which point apparently the leading edge bladder of the kite ruptured stopping the flight of the kite. Two of the end panels of the kite were ripped out on one side of the kite.


The path of the accident

The rider may have activated his quick release in this process but due to a line tangle this may have made matters worse. He did not release his leash attachment and set the kite free.


The kite control bar was found with one of the flat kites leader lines captured by the bypass leash snap clip. This might initiate a turn in the kite which would be maintained until either the kite was released completely or failed to continue to fly. The kite would loop repeatedly in a violent fashion, pulling the kiter through the water as the kite looped up or perhaps even above the water in high speed bursts.


Upon activating the quick release, the kite apparently would have been steered into a radical turn by the uneven lengths of the flight lines.

When other kiters arrived at the scene the rider was unconscious and not breathing. First aid was performed with no response. The post mortem concluded death was caused by a heart attack. Water was reportedly not found in the lungs and drowning was ruled out.
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:32 AM
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There is precedent for such a line capture HERE and in other incidents. These events dictate avoiding the use of clips that open easily and capture flight/control lines even if situated closer to the kiter's body as was the case in the incident described above.


There is another configuration for attachment of kite leashes shown above. Attachment of the clip just below the control bar over the chickenloop line is also described by other manufacturers. The likelihood of a line snag is lessened but not removed if the "soft" clips (easily opened clips) are used even in this position.

The kite may have been stalled by a sudden lull or otherwise impacted by a violent gust to where it hit the water. Perhaps after the kite hit the water the flying lines became slack and crossed over the leash clip. When the kite either autorelaunched in the gusty weather or by the efforts of the rider, the leader may have been pulled into the clip. The leader line was clipped in several feet over the riders head and out of his reach. He may have decided to totally depower the kite to drop it to the water to try to better manage the situation. Unfortunately, due to the clipped leader this did not happen. In fact the power of the spiraling may have initiated or have become much worse after the quick release was pulled. The kite might continuing spiraling indefinitely until it stopped flying. The rupturing of the leading edge of the kite on the beach probably caused this to happen.

The man died from a heart attack likely related to the stress of the situation, perhaps due to possible lack of air during the dragging, perhaps related to his weight and other factors. He had know apparent history of historical heart problems or treatment. If the wind had been more onshore he might have suffered severe trauma while being pulled across land.
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:32 AM
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Some hard lessons and considerations come out of this sad accident:

1. Use of clips that can readily open and capture line for kiting can create dangerous situations.
Perhaps placing a moveable fabric/plastic sleave over the lower locking arm could be used to help
address this situation?

2. New riders would benefit from receiving adequate, quality professional training through
being able to waterstart and command other basic essential skills.

3. Despite the riders fairly heavy weight and the use of a flat kite, new riders should use smaller kite
sizes while learning.

4. New riders should avoid winds above 18 kts. and excessively gusty conditions.

5. Make sure through proper diet and conditioning that you can cope with reasonable stresses that may
arise while kitesurfing. Being dragged over 4000 ft. may not be deemed to be reasonable by some however.
Seek your Doctors advice about kiting and related exertions. We have had a number of fatal kiting heart attacks
over the years.

6. Flat kites can deliver incredible depowering ability in over-powered conditions, IF EVERYTHING GOES PROPERLY.

In reality, things fairly often don't go according to plan in extreme conditions.

Avoid pushing wind extremes with kites, flat or otherwise.
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Old 10-29-2006, 07:12 PM
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Rick,
As a new rider just getting the hang of this sport my heart goes out to this man's family but your reporting of the incident is what keeps us all aware.
Thank you Rick.
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