2041Re: [ksurfschool] Kitesurfing danger in strong wind!
- Sep 28, 2001Rick,
The guidelines look good. I will try make a new sub-section "Getting
Lofted Safety" in the Kitesurfing School web site for the next update.
> Good points about going with shorter lines. The three local kitesurfer
> lofting cases that I am familiar with involved kitesurfers being hurled about
> 100' plus or minus inland. Two of these cases occurred in onshore wind
> conditions and the third went very suddenly to onshore from sideshore
> conditions. For relatively new kitesurfers and perhaps even for experienced
> kitesurfers, avoiding onshore wind conditions makes good sense.
> Two of the three cases involved kitesurfers with relatively large kites
> around 15 m plus or minus, however the most serious incident of the three
> involved a 9.5 m kite. As far as I know, all three were using 30 m line
> One of them occurred in 15 to 20 mph sideshoe winds that suddenly bumped up
> into 40 mph plus onshore. I am very familiar with this incident. Another
> involved unstable winds, gusting generally in the high 20 mph to low 30 mph,
> but it took about a sudden unexpected 40 mph gust to pop the kitesurfer into
> shore from off the water, actually into a parked car. The last kitesurfer,
> whose incident I observed from close up, was picked up by a gust no more than
> 30 mph and also hit a parked car. The weather forecast in two of the three
> of these cases indicated the potential of strong gusts and/or squalls. If
> the kitesurfers checked wind plots and looked for sharp spikes, weather radar
> for violent storm cells, they would have seen them and would have been wise
> to have done something other than kitesurfing.
> In all three of the cases the kitesurfers were in the air in a jump when hit
> by the gusts. This last point is crucial as I think that it is much easier
> to redirect or extend the flight of an object once has been accelerated into
> the air than one that is still on the surface. In other words, kitesurfers
> that jump in the face of sudden gusts are much more likely to have radically
> longer flights, into shore if the wind is in that direction. The timing
> seems to be tricky which is why I suspect these lofting incidents aren't even
> more common, fortunately.
> As a general precaution, with onshore winds, I would go immeditely to 300
> feet or more offshore and stay there until time to come in.
> It has been mentioned more than once, that if it is possible to keep the kite
> stationary, do so with it near the edge of the wind window and preferably
> relatively close to the ground. This wouldn't apply, necessarily while the
> kitesurfer is underway of course.
> So to summarize current thoughts on how to avoid being lofted:
> 1. Pick your weather carefully. If the weather radar, wind plots imply
> squalls or unduly gusty weather or if obvious storm clouds are moving in, it
> would be a very good idea not to go kitesurfing.
> 2. If you are stationary, try to keep your kite at the edge of the wind
> window and near the ground.
> 3. If you are near hard objects or if pronounced gusty conditions are
> developing, stay unhooked and/or use a snapshackle to secure your chicken
> loop. If you do use a snapshackle, rehearse mentally, frequently, if ...
> happens, pull the snapshackle release cord.
> 4. Avoid onshore winds. If you go out in them, kitesurf more than 300 ft.
> 5. Try to use shorter line sets if you are expecting stronger winds.
> 6. Always wear a helmet!
> 7. Do not come within 100' of substantial vertical surfaces or walls with
> onshore winds to avoid potentially being lifted.
> Of course, kitesurfers can break all of the above guidelines and perhaps be
> perfectly OK for hundreds of hours on the water. Unfortunately, sad
> experience has shown that given enough time, bad things have a way of
> catching up with the best of us if we go a little too extreme too often.
> Be careful out there,
> << It has been brought to my attention that another kitesurfer died in
> Spain. My condolence to his friend and family.
> It seems like the accident happened in strong disturbance of air (spin)
> in relatively strong wind 18+ knots.
> The only kitemares or near kitemares I had in kitesurfing was when the
> wind was 20+ knots.
> Remember that kite velocity is often 2-3 times wind speed and power is
> square of kite velocity.
> Since then, I have started to use shorter lines in stronger wind and
> have yet encountered any kitemare in strong wind.
> When the lines are shorter, kite velocity is limited to 1-2 times wind
> speed (the kite does not have enough wind window to accelerate to 2-3
> times wind speed).
> Also, when the lines are shorter, regardless of how disturbed the air
> is, the wind velocity at the kite should be somewhat similar to the wind
> feel by the rider and he/she can re-act appropriately sooner before it's
> too late.
> It's seem like shorter lines is one of the answer to safe kitesurfing in
> strong disturbed wind, let's try to use it.
> P.S., I frequently kiteskiied in disturbed winter storms and felt much
> safer kiteskiing in 30 - 45 knots with my Wipika Classic 3.5 and 0m
> lines than with a 1.5 m2 foil with 30m lines.
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