Tip #12 - Don't Kill Anyone
by Marc Hoeksema
So I've been kiting for 7 or 8 years now and have luckily avoided injuring another person. I mean luckily because I've done some stupid things! So here are some tips to avoid injuring others within your kiteboarding vicinity.
#1 - Don't just grab a kite and learn how to fly it on your own- unless you're in the middle of the desert with nobody around for miles and are not afraid of thermal updrafts and cacti! Have an experienced kiter help you, be it a friend or an instructor. When I learned, there were no instructors here, so my friend and I watched the instructional videos over and over and assisted each other in flying the kite. Even so, we were in no position to be on a populated beach divebombing sunbathers or hotlaunching each other into the inevitable superman pose to be deposited face first on the beach.
#2 - Don't think that once you learn how to kiteboard you really know how to kiteboard. Many mistakes have been made through overconfidence once a kiteboarder breaks through the initial learning curve and starts experimenting with their newfound superhero status. Keep it mellow and stay a safe distance from others on the beach and on the water. A football field's distance is approaching the safe limit in my opinion, however, windy conditions could require more space yet. I borrowed a friend's kite last summer and went out to see how it jumped. Little did I know that the 80 yard buffer I had downwind of me wasn't enough and I almost landed on Sean while he was doing a lesson (I still owe you a six of Blue Moon, Sean). Grabbing a kite involves lots of responsibility- don't forget that.
#3 - Learn the weather patterns in your area. Winds have different characteristics in different areas. Ask locals about local thermals and weather patterns that could put you and others at risk.
#4 - Carry a good, safe knife. When I was learning how to kite, I had a line break from my bridled foil and lasso my pinky and thumb. Then the kite took off in its typical death loop sequence, dragging me through the water as the line cut through my skin down to the nerves... very unpleasant. A good knife could have saved me some grief. Also, a knife can save others as was proven last summer when a kiter was being uncontrollably drug toward the horizon and was rescued by another kiter who cut their lines after not being able to deploy their quick release. A life saver for sure.
#5 - Make sure you have a practical leash. Some leash systems will protect you by letting your kite go bye-bye, but that is not good for the innocent bystanders. If you have to release your kite, make sure you can do it safely by still being attached to one line or having enough depower if attached to the center lines.
These are only 5 of the infinite safety precautions involved with kiteboarding. Many other tips can save your life as well, like wear a vest, put on the appropriate neoprene, avoid offshore winds, etc, etc. Hopefully we can have a safe summer.