I have prepared a new resource that will be derived from the existing
Kitesurfing Accident and Incident Database. I have tried to incorporate
suggestions that were given in recent threads on this subject. I plan to
post this as an Adobe pdf file so that people reading it will need to have
Acrobat Reader (a free download). I am also thinking about placing it on a
new moderated yahoogroups site with preapproved membership, which will be a
major pain and possibly infeasible, to attempt to limit access to
kiteboarders or those who falsely state that they are kiteboarders and
from the start so qualified legal opinions would be appreciated.
The primary idea here is to get the information out as widely as possible.
I have attempted to be sensitive to those with legal concerns and
incorporate some ideas in that regard. I would also like to include
accounts from all types of kiteboarding including on skies, snowboards and
mountainboards. I am looking for input on this so please let me know what
you think. This document also appears at:
under: Kitesurfing Safety Information
(Sorry about the tons of hyperlinked text. I am about to pull my hair out
over this Word quirk)
p.s. I want to sincerely thank Marina with Kiteexcite for all her efforts
in giving me information and the means of contacting the example account
participant. Also thanks to Eric of CabareteAirforce for creating the web
content that is linked below. Finally I want to thank two individuals that
were at Cabarete during and shortly after this incident that also
KITEBOARDING SAFETY INFORMATION (KSI)
The following is a collection of stories of reported, but generally
unconfirmed kiteboarding incidents and accidents. The purpose of this
resource is to impart lessons learned from the reported experiences of
others or likely scenarios derived from these reported accounts. It is not
intended to sensationalize or otherwise distort this sport but to aid riders
in evaluating and adopting safer kiteboarding practices.
From current estimates, several million hours are spent by riders
kiteboarding around the world per year. The vast majority of these hours
are entirely free of serious incidents or injury. So these stories represent
incidents that have happened to a small minority of all riders and should
not be taken as the norm by any means. The point is that they could
potentially happen to any rider if the same conditions are present as
described. We are all still learning about this sport and hazards that may
be out there. Accident statistics for activities like bicycle riding, high
school football or driving automobiles will show much greater rates of
serious accidents and hazards to participants than remotely experienced by
Often the difference between a safe kiteboarding session or one accompanied
by an incident or injury is prior knowledge, appropriate safety gear,
practice of procedures to avoid problems and careful informed judgment. It
is the intent of this list to aid in the continued expansion of safe
kiteboarding practices. This resource is intended for the reading and use
of kiteboarders only. Reproduction of content from this resource is
permitted only if this entire introductory section is also included along
with proper attribution.
Kiteboarding when undertaken in a responsible, informed fashion with proper
professional training and preparation may be safer than other popular sports
such as hang gliding, off-pieste skiing, mixed gas scuba diving and many
other pursuits. A goal in the preparation of this collection of stories is
to improve the state of common knowledge and awareness of threats to safety
and questionable riding practices. The examples provided in these stories
will hopefully illustrate the potential costs of poor practices and
Constructive comments, alternative views, credible eyewitness and
particularly participant account information are always welcome and should
be emailed to flkitesurfer@...
The accounts are broken into four sections including:
This section provides an account number, date of the account, reported date
of the incident and location information. When possible other reports of the
account were sought and/or received from others. The number of these other
accounts is listed in this section. If information was received directly
from the participant that is noted in this section as well. Finally if the
information is in part described by a published internet account the URL
will be provided if it is known.
This section provides details related to the writer without embellishment or
comment. Despite all these attempts to verify the accounts, they should not
be assumed to be verified but in fact may represent realistic but
potentially hypothetical object lessons for kiteboarders. Remembered and
second party accounts may have errors and as such should not be assumed to
be verified or necessarily to depict actual occurrences.
This section provides the opinion of the writer regarding potential improved
safety practices for kiteboarding derived from the experience related in the
account. These �Lessons� may alter with time as new knowledge is gained and
distributed in the sport. When new credible practices become known, they
may be incorporated in updated versions of the accounts.
This section provides the opinions and observations of the writer based on
the account which has been related. These comments are intended to discuss
relationship to other incidents, trends, general precautions or other
The account summaries listed in this resource may not be 100% accurate.
Attempts have been made in some cases to verify the accounts but none of the
account details should be considered to be confirmed or fully accurate by
the information contained herein. Kiteboarding can generally be practiced
with reasonable safely with thorough training, current good practices,
safety gear and by employing good judgment. This sport can be very
dangerous if it is not approached with the level of care described. The
same conclusion could apply to operating a car, bicycle or boat if the same
lack of care as described was employed in these activities. These reports
represent information conveyed to the writer and some opinions of the writer
and in some cases others and are not intended to represent positions or
opinions held by any other organization or group. This opinions represent
only one set of possible means of improving safety and do not represent all
options or replace good independent, informed judgment. Other valid
conclusions and procedures may be drawn from the information contained in
this resource and will likely be drawn in the future as kiteboarding
knowledge and safety technique is better understood. Participants are
generally not identified by name, unless this identity is common knowledge.
The goal of this resource is to impart lessons learned from the experiences
of these individuals and not to unduly embarrass or criticize the
kitersurfers. I regret their having gone through these experiences and
thank them for helping to improve the safety of this sport from the accounts
of their experiences.
Incident 3 1 02 Location: Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Date of Incident March 2002 Participant account included: Yes
Number of independent accounts: 4
For more information see:
An 70 kg. kiteboarding instructor of about 2 1/2 years experience on a
four-month holiday in Cabarete was rigged with an RRD 11.9 m kite. The wind
up to that point had been side shore 10 to 15 kts. He had noticed a black
line of clouds or squall moving in to shore. He came into shore at the west
section of Cabarete Bay at Bozo Beach. He had lowered his kite to within 3
to 5 m (10 to 16 ft.), off the ground for an assisted landing. He was then
hit by a violent wind gust, that he described as an �explosion.� Wind
records from nearby wind meters reported that average winds were 35 kts.
with gusts up to 51 kts. The winds had shifted suddenly from side shore to
dead onshore. By the time the rider understood what happened he was flying
inland over a building under construction with exposed rebar at an altitude
of approximately 20 m (65 ft.). He didn�t feel it was safe to pop his snap
shackle release at this point. He continued to rise in the gust and at one
point estimated his altitude to be 30 m (98 ft.) or perhaps higher. Looking
forward he saw no clear area to land but was rapidly flying towards high
tension lines and trees. He then noticed a pine tree and headed in that
direction. He described the kite handling to be stable but very �twitchy�
with attempted control inputs. He had a few previous experiences hang
gliding and paragliding and felt this time at least helped him manage the
shock of the flight in part. He was traveling at approximately wind speed
or roughly 40 to 45 kts. over ground. He then hit the pine tree, breaking a
limb and then rebounded into the trunk. He then fell down through the tree
breaking limbs until he hit the ground. His kite then started to power-up
again. At this point he released the snap shackle and his kite flew off to
windward where it was heavily damaged. The rider was admitted to the
hospital for observation for possible signs of internal organ injury and
brain hemorrhaging. He was released two days later and returned to
kiteboarding two days after that. He was not wearing a helmet but was
wearing an impact vest. The overall horizontal distance traveled was
reported to be 250 m (822 ft.).
1. If a storm, black clouds or squall line is moving in, get off the water
well in advance of the storm and while conditions are still stable and
unchanged. Always be aware of weather conditions while you are kiteboarding
and be prepared to act quickly if conditions change for the worse. Your
kite should be down on the beach and thoroughly anchored well before any
change in wind speed or direction or air temperature occurs. At a minimum
it would also be a good idea to remove both lines from one side of the kite
in case it is swept up in gusts.
2. If you suspect storms may be in the area, check out color weather radar
if available in your area. If strong storm cells are moving towards your
area, don�t go kiteboarding.
3. Don�t assume that the current wind direction and speed will persist if a
storm hits as it may change both direction and speed violently several
4. Another approach that may have helped to avoid this event would have
been to have fully sheeted in on a long trim strap almost totally depowering
the kite while still offshore, unsnapped the shackle at that time and to
have held the control bar while near the shore and landing. When the gust
hit, the bar would have been ripped out of his hands. This approach is
different that what most riders currently do, but it has recently been
suggested as a potentially safer means of managing the kite while near hard
objects both during launch and landings while on or near shore.
5. Always wear safety gear including a good helmet, impact vest, gloves and
hook knife at a minimum.
This rider was incredibly lucky to have come through a flight about 100 ft.
in height, over a horizontal distance of over 800 ft. moving at a speed over
ground estimated to be on the order of 50 mph, alive and largely uninjured.
The boost in wind speed from 15 kts. to over 50 kts. equates to over ten
times the lifting kite power. So if 15 kts. could easily lift this 70 kg.
rider the reality of what 50 kts. could do sinks in with this size kite.
This rider was lofted by another squall in Europe almost two years ago into
a rough landing on the beach. Another rider at Kitebeach in Cabarete
reportedly was lofted into a palm tree and was left hanging on to the tree
when he lost his kite. Three other kiteboarders lost their kites, which
ended up hanging in two trees and one power line. I was told that no white
caps or other surface disturbance signs were noted in advance of the storm
cloud. Those that were looking for changing sea conditions and thought,
well no wind was coming were sadly proved to be very wrong in this case.
Finally, on a very serious note, two girls were admitted to the hospital at
the same time as this rider. They had been out parasailing off Puerto Plata
about 15 miles to the west when the squall hit. One girl was killed and the
other paralyzed. Violent squall winds are a serious hazard to more than
The conventional wisdom on how to avoid lofting is to keep your kite low
while near hard objects. Apparently in this case either the very high wind
speed and/or perhaps inadvertent control bar inputs sent the kite flying up
from the ground fully powered up into the power zone. Normally it is
expected that violent dragging would occur but not in this case. Dragging
could have easily caused serious injury or death considering the wind speed
and associated kite force. Logic dictates that the only proper, reasonably
safe way to deal with this situation would be to never be in it in the first
place. If squalls are coming, land your kite very soon. Squalls of this
level of violence are reportedly rare in Cabarete. They do occur with some
regularity in Florida to my knowledge particularly during the warmer months.
They may also be reasonably common in many other parts of the world. If you
see a squall coming in, you have no idea if the wind will die, reverse,
boost 5 kts. or 50 kts. or do all of the above. I am reminded of a story
about Luftwaffe glider pilots trying to learn about conditions inside
cumulonimbus storm clouds just prior to WWII. Of the original group of 35
pilots I recall that two survived interacting with the incredible violence
inside these clouds. Some things are best left alone rather than
experimented with. Other kiteboarders have been injured by squall winds as
described in several other accounts in this section. Black incoming storm
clouds and squalls should be avoided by kiteboarders at all costs.
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