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New, old kitesurfing accidents

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  • Rick Iossi
    Last weekend, we had a couple of serious kitesurfing accidents in Miami, FL that I recently heard about and wanted to pass on. The two incidents had some
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 10, 2002
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      Last weekend, we had a couple of serious kitesurfing accidents in Miami, FL
      that I recently heard about and wanted to pass on. The two incidents had
      some common characteristics both to each other and unfortunately to other
      accidents at these launches in the past. They both involved kitesurfers
      being lofted into hard objects during kite launch while still onshore in
      gusty onshore wind conditions. Both kitesurfers were from out of town, a
      woman from California and a man from another country. The woman had her
      accident at a beach where two riders were lofted into cars under very
      similar conditions within the last six months. One of those other riders
      was taken to the hospital due to injuries sustained and the other walked
      away, after doing over $1000. USD in damage to the parked car. For more info
      on these past accidents checkout:

      Incident # 7 01 1 at:

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/files/Kitesurfing%20Accident%20Database/Kitesurf%20Accident%20and%20Incident%20Database%20Dec.%2012%2C%202001.txt

      The woman had just launched her kite and was then reportedly lofted skyward
      and fell down into some timber poles driven into the ground at Hobie Beach.
      She was reportedly bleeding from the mouth when she was transported to the
      hospital. She was subsequently treated and released from the hospital.

      The man was also lofted during launch and was also flown inland into a hard
      landing narrowly missing more of the same type of timber poles at Virginia
      Key Beach. I understand that his injuries may have also justified a trip to
      the hospital but he declined as he was planning on flying out the next day.
      As I understand it, neither rider was wearing a helmet or impact vest.

      So what?! Both of these launches are technical, intermedite to advanced
      launches because of:

      1) Close hard obstructions, e.g. cars, trees, posts and at at one launch,
      large rock groins and at the other an adjoining highway.

      2) The demands of the launches are even greater in onshore winds as the
      lofting potential into hard objects goes way up.

      3) The past history of serious accidents.

      As a result Virginia Key Beach may soon have a kitesurfing ban (which has
      long been threatened) and Hobie Beach has new, fortunately logical
      restrictions.

      I understand that two kites were released into the four lane highway at
      Hobie Beach over the weekend, making the number at least five runaway kites
      in recent months to go into the highway. Any of these kites could have
      caused a very serious car accident in a highway. We need to get
      responsible about safety and leash use or the regulators will force us to be
      or more likely just ban kitesurfing in this accident prone areas.

      The reality is that beginner and novice kitesurfers go off both of these
      sites frequently, because:

      a. They don't know any better, it's a beach with water, wind and other
      kitesurfers so lets have at it; or

      b. They ignore good, well intended advice to go to some place
      safer to practice.

      Again, so what?! We are going to repeat history and accidents until someone
      dies in one of these incidents unless we learn from all this and effectively
      spread the lessons on. I am sure that these conditions of onshore winds
      with nearby hard objects are relatively common worldwide and accordingly the
      accident potential is also high. In reality any of the injured parties if
      they had hit head first they could have died. The accidents could have been
      avoided by not placing the kites in or near neutral following launching and
      in the woman's case launching well offshore from the shallows with
      assistance. Better still they could have been avoided by the riders going
      to easier and safer launch areas.

      This new sport is aging a bit, the regulators are paying closer attention
      and the rider and accident counts are rising. Good communication and common
      safety practices would help a great deal in helping to assure rider safety
      and continued kitesurfing access. The work of instructors and kitesurfing
      associations is laid out but until they are more common it is up to the
      kitesurfers at large to look out for their own.

      Fly safe,
      Rick


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