Kiteboarding and Windsurfing Safety rules are presented here. Please take the time to practice these. Even in a rushed session investing in safety will yield you more water time down the line since you will be out of commission due to injuries less often
1. NEVER LAUNCH OR RIDE WITHIN 200 FT. OR 60 M UPWIND OF BY STANDERS OR HARD OBJECTS
...land, boats, rocks, walls, buildings, powerlines, roads or prominent vertical surfaces or steep slopes that may cause uplift. Depower your kite as early as possible if trouble threatens. Waiting may remove the option to do so safely. Riders have been injured and killed by ignoring this. In kiteboarding "DISTANCE IS YOUR FRIEND" and may sometimes help to forgive bad luck & errors in judgment.
2. AVOID STORMS & SQUALLS. CHECK WEATHER RADAR, WIND & FORECASTS & BE AWARE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS WHILE RIDING Storms & squalls have injured lots of kiteboarders & are a serious threat. Actual weather may differ from predicted conditions so stay alert. If you see squalls or storms, LAND, remove the lines & SECURE your kite in advance of any change in wind or temperature. Riders have been injured by reacting too late or not at all.
Avoid offshore & onshore winds.
3. TAKE ADEQUATE PRO KITEBOARDING LESSONS FROM A GOOD SCHOOL carefully build experience in manageable conditions. Lessons cost but you should be kiteboarding faster, easier & safer for your investment. Also you could save your expensive gear & yourself from damage & our access to ride.
4. CAREFULLY PREFLIGHT YOUR GEAR make sure lines are equal, in good condition, free of tangles/snags, are properly attached & no leaks are
present. Repair gear before launching.
5. USE SAFETY GEAR AND PRACTICE REACTING TO EMERGENCY SITUATIONS ... a suitable helmet, impact vest, tested kite leash, reliable chicken loop quick releases (QR) & hook knife(s). Practice mentally & physically reacting to emergency situations, e.g. lofting & dragging, to try to reduce critical reaction time. Test & maintain your quick releases before each use to improve reliable performance.
6. BE CAREFUL IN & CONSIDER AVOIDING HIGHER WINDS winds greater than 25 mph are very different than winds below 20 mph. For example, the difference between 15mph wind and 20mph wind on your kite is little, but the difference between 20 and 25mph is much greater. In winds stronger than 25mph - kite forces & flight speeds can be much greater & conditions far less forgiving of errors in judgment or simple bad luck. In the past, these have resulted in serious injuries.
7. HAVE AN EXPERIENCED HELPER LAUNCH & LAND YOUR KITE who understands your instructions without error. If conditions permit, it may be safer to launch your kite near or from the water.
8. CONSIDER THE COMBINED EXPERIENCE OF THE LAUNCHER AND KITER. Avoid situations where both Launcher and Kiter are inexperienced. This is a recipe for disaster
9. KEEP YOUR KITE LOW & NEVER BRING IT TO THE VERTICAL WHILE NEAR HARD OBJECTS OR LAND TO TRY TO AVOID LOFTING. GET OFFSHORE WITHOUT DELAY.
10. BE HELPFUL TO OTHERS AND ASSERTIVE TO KEEP KITEBOARDING FREE & AT WILL. Jump to help kiteboarders. If you see someone doing something reckless, grab your friends & go talk with him. We are all in this sport together so pitch in & be ready to help to keep riders safe and to work to preserve access. Remember - if people are reckless and you say nothing, complaints will come and the sport will be shut down by authorities. So be HELPFUL and ASSERTIVE
11. NEVER SAIL ALONE - USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM Make sure that your expected time of return is known by someone ashore (your agent) and that they keep visual contact with you on the water. Kitesurf with a buddy. This will ensure that should there be a problem assistance can be summoned. Local kite shops/schools provide a friendly means of riding safely with others. If possible chose a beach with rescue cover.
1. LEARN TO WINDSURF WITH A US SAILING CERTIFIED SCHOOL / INSTRUCTOR. Basic Principals about self rescue and precautions to take with equipment, etc., should be learnt - especially before sailing off the beach for the first time.
2. BEWARE OF THE COLD - WEAR SUITABLE CLOTHING Activity in water causes rapid loss of body heat which can lead to hypothermia, weakness and dulled mental reactions. in the summer, a wet or dry suit of 3mm or more is the minimum required, in winter it should be 5mm or more. Be aware of heat loss especially if winds are blowing from the north or east. Most heat is lost from the head, hands and feet. In cold weather, neoprene hat, gloves and boots are advisable.
3. PERSONAL BUOYANCY Always use a buoyancy aid and harness. Although a wet suit will provide some buoyancy, it is advisable to wear a buoyancy aid which does not impede your movement. For wave jumping or speed sailing, a crash helmet is advisable.
4. BOARD AND RIG CONDITION Ensure all elements of your board and rig are in good order, paying particular attention to ropes, pulleys, universal joints, rig/board connection, mast, boom and safety leashes. Keep spare line with you and learn how to effect temporary repairs from the US SAILING centers or windsurfing magazines. Look after your equipment and flush metal parts with fresh water at the end of every session.
5. NEVER SAIL ALONE - USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM Make sure that your expected time of return is known by someone ashore (your agent) and that they keep visual contact with you on the water. Windsurf with a buddy. This will ensure that should there be a problem assistance can be summoned. Windsurfing clubs provide a friendly means of sailing safely with others. If possible chose a beach with rescue cover.
6. SEEK ADVICE ON WIND AND TIDE See www.iwindsurf.com main page for weather information and tides. Ask locals wind strength further from land. Remember - NEVER sail in an offshore wind. As the sun sets, expect wind to change to an offshore breeze.
7. SEEK OUT SITE AWARENESS Ask locals about obstacles in the water, tides, typical wind direction, daily wind shifts, boat traffic, when the wind typically dies down, etc. Local site awareness can save you trouble later on. Find out where you could possibly come to shore downwind in case something goes wrong with your gear or you are in overpowered conditions.
For your local area, find out the local coast guard telephone number and program it into your cell phone.
8. TIDES The safest time to windsurf is at the turn of the tide. The speed of the water flow is slowest about an hour before and an hour after high tide. Beginners should avoid sailing 3 or 4 hours after high or low tide when the speed of the water flow may be faster than they can sail. When wind is against tide the sea is choppy. Avoid trying to launch if the shore break is heavy.
9. KEEP TO AND OUT OF Some beaches are 'zoned', watch out for special windsurfing areas. Keep out of narrow navigable channels, shipping and other high traffic areas. Learn the 'rules of the road
10. NEVER LEAVE YOUR BOARD Your board is your main source of buoyancy. If you cannot reach shore by attempting self rescue, make a recognized distress signal of waiving both hands above your head, crossing wrists above your head. The rig will act as a sea anchor, provide some stability and offer good visual opportunities for rescuers. If board and rig become separated, stay with the board.
11. DISTRESS SIGNALS Be prepared for the worst and always carry a recognized smoke signal or red distress flare on your person. Learn how to use them. In flat water conditions a recognized signal is to slowly raise and lower outstretched arms.
12. BE CONSIDERATE TO OTHER WATER USERS Be particularly alert to the presence of swimmers and children in the water. Clear the beach as soon as possible.
13. SELF RESCUE - THE BUTTERFLY TECHNIQUE In calm weather conditions, swivel the rig so that the boom is lying on the back of the board with the mast pointing out behind and the sail out of the water. Then lie on the deck and paddle to safety.
In strong winds, if you are not too far from the shore, ditch the rig and paddle in. In extreme conditions, ditch the rig to maintain board stability. Only ditch the rig if you are within reach of the shore. If self rescue is unsuccessful put the rig back in the water so it acts as a sea anchor and reduces your rate of drift. Attract attention with your whistle, Day-Glo flag or flare. Never abandon your board except to get into a rescue vehicle.
14. EQUIPMENT FAILURE AND OTHER CHALLENGES In high wind conditions, remain calm but don’t waste time. Take action quickly to resolve problems. Never refuse help if you get in a bind!
15. IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY