This week I have been one of the lucky kiters taking part in the 1st ever test group on the soon to be launched IKO ‘Kite Master’ clinic. It’s been an awesome week and I’ve learnt a huge amount with dedicated instructors helping me to improve after I’ve been stuck in a bit of a kiting lull and trying to improve, yet struggling to face my fears!
It has surprised me however that one of the things that has stood out the most this week is hearing that even some of the top kiters don’t know how to perform some essential safety basics! So the course has prompted me to share a few words with you..
Yesterday I got carried away playing in the waves at a new spot and I didn’t realise how close I had got to the reef. That coupled with a giant wave coinciding with a low kite meant my kite was taken under the surf a couple of times, got tangled and inverted itself making for an impossible relaunch. Because I’d practised self rescue many times and most recently on the IKO course, it was an automatic reaction for me to release my safety and commence the self rescue procedure to ensure that I get myself out of danger and not be dragged further over the shallow reef. Without me knowing how to self rescue it could have been disastrous not to mention painful, but thankfully both myself and the kite escaped without a scratch.
but that’s no excuse not to be able to know how to do it yourself as often there’s only yourself to count on to get out of danger
Kite spots like Cabarete, D.R (where I am now) are full of local pros and expert kiters that are always on hand to rescue those in trouble, but that’s no excuse not to be able to know how to do it yourself as often there’s only yourself to count on to get out of danger. I would have been seriously dragged and cut up on the reef if I didn’t know how to depower my kite and start to self rescue without delay.
In other kite spots seabreezes could mean that the wind drops off suddenly, or if you don’t watch the weather closely storm clouds can come in and you could be stuck and left out at sea. As a kiter you need to be responsible for your own safety and it’s made me think that we could do with sharing a few reminders:
- Know your equipment before you launch: every kite, bar and leash is different
- Test your release systems every time you are about to go out: you will be surprised how much sand etc can get stuck and how many times I have seen jammed release systems and accidents happen here
- Assess the wind and weather… always!
- Understand the physical kiteable area as well as the surroundings
- Know how to self rescue: watch our video for in depth instruction to remind yourself
- Practice, practice, practice the self rescue and deep water pack down procedure; it should be automatic and you never know when you might just need it
So when it’s not windy, get your kit out and go over self rescue… it might not be the most fun part of kiting, but it might save your life one day!