Kites, Wind, Water and You
May 21, 2018 - Just a reminder, not a formal tutorial.
Photos: k38 Italia
Rescue Water Craft Response for Kites, some reminders and suggestions, however training is required to reduce liability at sea.
How will you use a Rescue Water Craft to recover a kiteboarder and their equipment?
Most Kite Boarders are well versed in self-rescue and the warning signs of their activity relative to others in the water. They will often use their kite as a sail and drag themselves back to shore (safety) to depower and deflate their rig. They may even be using their kite as a float an/or a sail to draw back towards shore under wind power.
Not all Rescue Water Craft operators or crew are well versed in kiteboard activity and recovery. Usually the Kiteboarding community has designated areas with high wind capacity and times of day they enjoy their sport. There are a variety of skill levels and equipment uses.
Does your agency have a policy for contact with kiteboards and their gear? Two things to consider:
- Water Based Response
- Shore Based Response
Ask yourself a few questions, are the winds light or strong and growing stronger? What is the direction of the swell, the wave height and spacing, shoreline configuration, hazards and any background or nearshore traffic?
An able bodied kiter can have their kite laying on the surface with little power, sometimes this is because the kiter has brought it down intentionally. They may have a tethered safety line they are using to recover their bar. They will loop their safety line along with handle of their bar while the other lines to the kite will have slack and it will not be able to fly.
They will continue on wrapping lines on the bar depending upon if they have 4 or 5 line bars. It is a slow process for the athlete at times. You will see the kite draw in closer and they will possibly grab onto it or lay on it and be drawn back towards shore. Determine if they are in close and okay. You may not need to intervene; observe body language. Sometimes things don’t’ work out as planned.
If you are observing a kiteboarder in the water, try to differentiate between an assist or a rescue, and possibly no response. It’s always good to conduct a safety check and maintain visual contact. For instance, they may be dragging themselves back to recover their board using the kite as a sail. There are many different behaviors of self-rescue and trouble situations kiters can get into, this is only one for reference.
Know the causes of runaway kites and potential injuries both on water and land not just to the athletes but to the responders and bystanders. There are a variety of reasons kite boarders have safety issues underway or during prep to launch or recover. Kite boarders can suffer joint and ligament, dislocations, traumatic injuries, fractures and back and neck injuries. It would be advisable to prepare for transits with these type of injuries in mind.