Too many kitesurfing accidents? Is kitesurfing too dangerous? Is kitesurfing an extreme sport?
These are questions that resonate on the web at this time because unfortunately it is not a good time for kitesurfing accidents. In recent months, several kitesurfing accidents have occurred, some of which are tragically fatal. When such incidents occur it is natural to try to analyze the facts to understand what could have been done to avoid the accident and one wonders if it could have happened to us.
When I read about some bad kitesurfing incident I can't help but think about those I witnessed in person, one in particular always comes to mind in these situations.
Dynamics of a kitesurfing accident
Some time ago I was in Calambrone doing kitesurfing with the usual group of friends. It was one of those classic winter days of libeccio, which means strong and gusty wind and bad weather. We were already all coming out of the water, worried by the black clouds that were getting closer and faster. I was already folding the sail when a guy approaching me asking me what the wind was like. I reply that we were all leaving because the storm was coming. As if nothing had happened he takes his sail from the car and arms the kite, after which he asks a boy who was with me to help him raise the sail. My friend tries in vain to dissuade him: " I have the new sail, I absolutely have to try it and see how it flies, a couple of edges and I go out"Says the type. I watch him sign up with his thumb, then I get distracted by the first drops of rain. A matter of moments and I see him leap out of the corner of his eye and land head first a hundred yards away, among the bamboo canes. I remember how yesterday was the race towards that immobile body and the very long moments that it took before one of us was close enough to see if he was breathing. He breathed. He got away with some fractures and a ride in an ambulance, but it could have been worse, much worse.
What went wrong and why?
As he lifted the sail, a burst arrived that caught the unprepared kiter . He made the classic mistake of clinging to the bar. Pulling the bar to himself has turned the kite into a catapult that threw it into the air and then crashed violently and without ground control. This is to answer the question about what, while regarding why I would say that it was a beginner who made a series of mistakes, one more serious than the other .
The first mistake was obviously to underestimate the weather conditions .
Secondly he sinned with pride , overestimating his abilities and not listening to those advising him not to try to go out.
The third mistake was to raise the kite to the ground instead of towards the sea and finally pulled the bar towards itself when it had to leave everything instead.
Do you think it was an isolated case? Unfortunately not. Of similar kitesurfing accidents I could tell a lot of them and like me anyone kitesurfing for a while and unfortunately not always with a happy ending. Distraction , misjudgment of the danger , overestimation of one's abilities are too often the cause of kitesurf accidentswhich, at times, could be avoided simply by focusing on what we are doing. Because if it is true that the natural elements cannot be 100% controlled it is also true that the signals to predict dangerous marine weather events in general are right before our eyes, while the pilot's error can generally be avoided by keeping the level of attention and concentration. In this sense kitesurfing is not very different from other more common activities such as driving a car, riding a bicycle or skiing.
Kitesurfing is not a particularly dangerous sport in itself , or at least not much more common than others, but only if you approach it correctly and take a good course with a qualified instructor, always respect the safety rules and follow the common sense that should keep us out of the water with strong winds of disturbance, storms coming, stormy sea and in general in all those conditions that we are not sure we can safely manage. Kitesurfing in the summer, with 15-knot thermal breezes and flat water is a completely different sport than facing winds that blow at 30 knots and waves well above the head.
Here are 10 common sense rules for your safety.
A series of rules and advice that we all already know very well, but we don't always respect. Reading them again can help you think again before the next issue ...
1. KNOW YOURSELF
I do not mean philosophically, but simply to know their own abilities and above all their limits . Recognizing one's level is fundamental for not finding oneself in situations that one is not able to manage and therefore potentially dangerous. In addition to one's abilities, it is important to be honest about one's physical form, because overestimating can be expensive. How often do you go out with the kite? Do you train regularly when you are not in the water? The fact that last summer you sailed quietly and managed to close jumps and rotations, does not automatically make you able to go out with a winter disturbance, after having spent the last 6 months away from the water and in front of a desk ...
2. KNOW THE SPOT
Especially when you go out in a new spot, don't rush into the sea right away. Take the time to observe any obstacles and dangers. Are there any breakwaters? Rocks that surface? Areas with too low water? When you arrive in a new spot it is a good practice to ask someone about the place of the tips and not only about the dangers but also about the local weather conditions.
Not all the spots are suitable for a beginner and not all the spots are suitable for kitesurfing. If a local tells you that this is not the place for you, it does not mean that he does it in order to have more space for himself and to keep the strangers away ... I know that too often localism is anything but a positive aspect of this sport, however sometimes it is. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
3. BEWARE OF THE WEATHER
The marine weather conditions are that external component with which we measure ourselves in kitesurfing. The assumption should always be respect for these forces, and perhaps even a just reverential fear because wind and sea can literally wipe us out with an impressive ease.
Today, fortunately, we have many tools available to minimize unforeseen weather, but it is important to use them all correctly. Forecasts and any weather alerts are obviously the first tool. On the beach it is important not to dive headlong into the sea but to take the time to observe the situation and its evolution . I know that we are always all in a hurry and we try to carve out some exits among a thousand other commitments, but haste is our enemy. Arrived at the beach take the time to look around, watch the other kiters in the sea, if there are, exchange a few words with those on the beach, ask how it was before you arrived (yes I know that the answer is always "it was better before " and "it will be better after you leave"... but sometimes you also gather useful information) look if there are clouds on the horizon and if they are threatening or even if there are storms around you. Measure the wind with an anemometer, if you are not expert enough to evaluate it without this instrument, and don't do it for 5 seconds but for 5 minutes or even more to evaluate gusts. Variations of intensity greater than 10 knots are a danger. If then, in addition to varying the intensity, the direction also suddenly changes, the danger increases exponentially.
Keep in mind that strong winds, above 20-25 knots, are not suitable for a beginner, while with regard to direction, beware of winds that tend to take you offshore. With the wind blowing from the ground to the sea it is clear that there is no need to go out without a support boat, but even if the wind is slightly side off you may have problems. On the other hand, the wind that blows straight from the sea to the ground is certainly not ideal for a beginner.
4. BEWARE OF THE KITE TAKE-OFF
The moment to raise the kite is perhaps the most delicate and certainly one of those that records the greatest number of accidents in kitesurfing . Before raising your kite, always check that the lines are connected correctly and are free. Never underestimate the choice of where to raise the kite. It must be a large area free from dangers, so no leeward umbrellas, people or even bathing establishments. Always raise the kite towards the sea rather than towards the ground. This way any mistake will make you fly in the water instead of on the beach.
To this I would like to add a moment to take a mental review on wind direction and power zone and window edge directions, before holding the bar. Unfortunately we see too often kiters trying to raise the sail in incorrect positions.
5. DO NOT KEEP THE KITE TO ZENITH
Once the kite is raised, one of the most common mistakes is to carry it over your head or hold it to the zenith while you chat or else stand still on the beach. Considering the zenith as a neutral position is a serious error that can involve two different dangers. The first is that the kite could collapse on itself due to a sudden wind hole, more likely in case of gusty or weak wind. If in conjunction with the fall of the sail the kiter tries to recover the situation with a wrong movement it is easy to find yourself with a kite suddenly in full power with what follows. The other danger, if even more serious though more remote, is that of the Lofting that is the sudden and unexpected lifting of the kiter by a burst. In these cases prevention is the only real defense because a reaction time of even one second could be too much and once in the air it could already be too late to release, while the control of the sail could be impossible. But how to avoid preventing the danger of the Lofting? Simple, stopping as little as possible on the beach with the high sail and in any case never keeping it at the zenith but at about 45 ° towards the sea. In this way a possible gust will drag us towards the sea and will not lift us vertically on the beach.
6. DO NOT UNDERTAKE HEATING
It hardly ever happens to see a surfer enter the water without first warming up and stretching. In the world of kitesurfing, on the other hand, those who warm up before entering the water are white flies. Yet some simple hops, a few lunges on the knees and some exercises for the shoulders and arms can really save you from many traumas.
Do you seem to waste precious minutes that you could spend in the water? Even 5 minutes can be enough and you can use this time to study the spot and the weather conditions.
7. CHECK EQUIPMENT AND SAFETY DEVICES
Verifying the correct operation of safety devices is a good habit that should never be underestimated. Quick-release devices should be tested every time because sand and salt could block them. To reach them is an automatism, bring your hand over the release and simulate the movement. Do it every time before raising the wing and it will become an instinctive gesture.
In the same way, before each exit you should check that the cable cutter is in its place and easily accessible and you should always wear an impact vest and a helmet ... even more essential in case of hydrofoil exits.
8. DO NOT JUMP ON THE BEACH
The kitesurfing is done in the water, not on the beach . Playing on the beach with a sail is dangerous. Once the kite is raised go straight to the water.
Equally dangerous is the bad habit of doing your tricks very close to the beach, on the shore, with only a few centimeters of water under the table. For many it is only exhibitionism, while others, especially beginners, fear to venture far from the shore, where they do not touch. Nothing could be more wrong, given that shallow water is a much greater danger to ankles and beyond.
9. DO NOT GO OUT ONLY
Having someone who keeps an eye on you , even from the beach, is much more than a gratification for your ego. It is a rule that could save your life.
Needless to say, if you see a kiter in difficulty, you should try to never underestimate the situation . Sometimes you naively make the mistake of thinking that the kiter has everything under control, that maybe it's just waiting for the right burst to raise the sail. The truth is that we can't know what happened and whether it can solve the problem by itself or not. In these cases it is always better to make sure of yourself, reaching it with a border.
10. KNOW AND RESPECT PRECEDENCES
You wouldn't dream of driving a car without respecting the priorities, right? So why should kitesurfing be different? Knowing the priorities and respecting them is absolutely mandatory to avoid accidents. And yet I bet that you too, like me, came across kiters who had no idea of ???
To conclude with a smile, here is an exhilarating Jeremie Tronet video on the 10 most common mistakes among kiters beginners ...
Pubblicato il 16 novembre 2018 | Blog > Technique: KITESURF