Surfing wipeouts are inevitable and nine times out of ten they are hardly extraordinary, or even dangerous. Still there’s always the one time out of ten when things go south. And having a kite connected to you doesn’t probably stack the odds in your favor. Below are some points which may help to minimize the negative consequences of kitesurfing wipeouts.
On the shore:
- Always carry a hook knife with you in waves. Make sure you can locate it underwater with either hand. Getting wrapped in the lines is dangerous even on the flat water.
- Do not connect your leash to the handlepass attachment. If you get dragged under water by a wave you may have to release the kite completely and doing so while being pulled backwards won’t be easy.
- Assess conditions before you enter the water. Look for hazards like rocks and exposed reefs.
On the water:
- If you are about to crash steer your kite toward 12.
- Before the wave hits, catch your breath and relax to slow your heart rate. You could end up being held down for a while.
- In order to avoid being held down by more than one wave, select the last wave in a set.
- Keep your kite in the air at all cost. Fly it, don’t let go of the bar unless you’re completely disoriented.
- In light onshore wind steer the kite in the direction opposite to that of the waves. That will keep tensions in the lines and won’t let the waves push you under the kite causing it to stall and fall.
- Don’t try to locate your board right after the crash. Chances are it’s already behind you flying into your head. Bodydrag away from the point of crash in any direction, only then look for the board.
- Never place the board between you and the wave. If the wave throws the board at you don’t try to stop it, move away. If there’s no time to move cover your head with hands.
- If the kite crashed try to relaunch it as fast as possible before the wave hits it. It may still be possible to relaunch afterwards. Keep trying until it’s completely obvious that relaunch is not an option.
- Make sure at all time that your lines are away from you while in the white wash. Being wrapped in the lines when the wave passes you and catches up to the kite is a life and death situation.
- If you and the kite are in the same wave you won't get dragged under the water. Stay attached and try and relaunch. Use the kite to pull you back to the beach.
- If the kite is in a wave in front of you and you are in clear water there is a chance you will be dragged under water. If that happens in the big surf release the kite instantly. People have broken their backs being dragged under water. Take your chances swimming in.
-In less powerful waves you should consider other variables. Will you be able to swim back to the shore on your own? Are there currents that will drag you out to sea? Are there beachgoers, small children, etc. downwind? Sometimes staying hooked in and getting dragged by the kite is less dangerous than disconnecting.
If everything else fails you can always use Kung Fu against the wave: