Are There Dangers Of Kitesurfing?
Let's take a look at the dangers of kitesurfing, the hazards kitesurfers are actually exposed to and what you can do to avoid them.
Disclaimer: kitesurfing is a perfectly safe sport to learn, this article simply outlines the dangers if care is not taken. We always advice you have kitesurfing lessons from an accredited kitesurfing school.
The potential hazards kiteboarders face can be grouped in the following categories:
- Hazards from kiter errors
- Weather & nautical hazards
- Equipment failures
- Obstacle hazards
- People hazards
Let's take a look at the list of possible hazards and importantly - how to avoid them.
1. Hazards due to kitesurfer errors
1.1. Becoming overpowered – losing kite control
How to avoid: observe and talk to other kiters to check what size kite they’re using
1.2. Riding underpowered
How to avoid: same as previous, ask other kitesurfers for optimal size.
1.3. Failed launch or landing
How to avoid: use a recent kite and bar with good depower, avoid launching in bad weather
1.4. Getting caught in running kite lines
How to avoid: don’t stand downwind from learners on strong wind days. if you can. Always keep an eye on what’s going on upwind.
1.5. Losing control while practicing on land
How to avoid: avoid flying your kite on the beach in strong winds, get in the water asap.
1.6. Hurting yourself while jumping
How to avoid: check there’s enough water for jumping, check for downwind clearance before each jump.
1.7. Getting wiped out in waves
How to avoid: don’t go in big waves without proper surf kiting experience.
1.8. Getting hit by a kiteboard
How to avoid: gain experience in moderate winds first, wear board straps until you have good control, wear a helmet, don’t use a board leash.
1.9. Getting hurt by a kite line
How to avoid: always be prepared for a sudden relaunch after your kite falls. Be very cautious when pulling your slack lines with your hands – wrap them around your bar instead if you can.
2. Weather and nautical hazards
2.1. Undergoing sudden wind change
How to avoid: know the wind forecast, know the spot, avoid currents, don’t go farther than you can swim
2.2. Being caught in very gusty wind
How to avoid: avoid going out in very gusty wind – e.g. places with mountains or buildings upwind. Or, learn to cope with gusts by using a smaller kite and learn to work it in lulls.
2.3. Getting in trouble in cross/offshore wind
How to avoid: avoid going out in offshore wind, or use a surfboard with a leash so you can paddle back in case of trouble. Prepare to sacrifice your kite.
2.4. Hitting something at high speed at lowering tide
How to avoid: know the spot and tides, ask around, steer clear of shallow rocks.
2.5. Getting caught in strong currents
How to avoid: know the spot, its currents and tides.
2.6. Getting caught in big waves
How to avoid: make sure you stay within the lagoon or bay unless you know what you’re doing. Ask ahead of time what to do if you get caught in the waves.
3. Equipment failure hazards
3.1. Snapping a kite line
How to avoid: check your lines on a regular basis and replace them when necessary. Carry a hook knife at all times.
3.2. Having your harness spreader bar break
How to avoid: choose a brand new harness from a decent brand. If it occurs, either try to body drag to the beach or fully let go of your kite.
3.3. Having your leading edge bladder lose air
How to avoid: regularly pump your old kite up to check for discrete bladder and valve leaks. Be on the lookout for slight deflating after each session.
3.4. Having a twintip strap go loose while riding
How to avoid: check your kiteboard straps and screws, especially before doing jumps.
3.5. Having your quick release go off by itself
How to avoid: check your safety system and replace it if it triggers too easily.
4. Hazards due to obstacles
4.1. Getting blown out into a inland obstacle
How to avoid: don’t go out in weather fronts. When getting lofted release your kite fast before going too high. If lofted high, try to steer your kite back toward the water.
4.2. Getting dragged into an obstacle in the water
How to avoid: don’t go out in places with downwind obstacles unless you know you can reliably ride upwind (and have the wind and skills for it)
5. People hazards
5.1. Colliding with another kitesurfer
How to avoid: don’t go out when it’s too crowded (e.g. Wallasey in the summer). If you do, ride far from the shore where more beginners and freestylers hang out. If you get into a wave or a jump, always check for downwind clearance first. If your lines do cross with someone else’s, try to coordinate with the other person to release both kites simultaneously.
5.2. Catching a swimmer or bystander with your lines
How to avoid: always check for beachgoer clearance downwind both on the sand and in the water near shore. If your kite drops with your the lines surrounding a person, immediately flag your kite to complete depower it and avoid a dangerous relaunch.
5.3. Colliding with a boat or jetski
How to avoid: ride defensively, don’t wait for the boat to change its course even if you feel you have right of way, head far enough upwind or downwind, whichever is easier.
In this article we have discussed the dangers of kitesurfing. Kitesurfing is not dangerous when you know what you are doing and you evaluate the risks.