When you are sure that you have safe, cross onshore wind, know the wind speed, have chosen the right size kite and checked the forecast, its time to check that your location is safe for Kitesurfing.

Firstly you must get into the habit of spending 5-10 min standing on the beach and checking all the potential dangers.

Look downwind as this is where you are going to end up should you get into trouble.

Some examples of dangers on the land.

  • Any hard objects that you could hit such as rocks, walls, seas defences, concrete, roads, cars or buildings.
  • Sand or mud that you could slip over on, hard sand, sharp stones or broken glass.
  • Power lines.
  • Other Kitesurfers.
  • Members of the public and other beach users such as fishermen, dog walkers, children playing where you could be the danger to them.
Not a good place to set up, launch or kite….

Some examples of dangers in the water

  • Any hard objects that you could hit such as rocks, walls, seas defences, harbours, buoys, islands. 
  • Shallow water below the knee.
  • Waves, currents, tidal currents and fast flowing water.
  • Other water users such as swimmers, surfers, windsurfers, boats and any other water craft as well as other Kitesurfers.
  • Dangerous tides such as very low tides that can reveal hidden dangers under the water surface or high tides that can cover landing areas as well as create currents or cut you off from safety. 
  • Sea creatures such as jelly fish or sharks. 
This ship wreck at Camber sands in the UK is only revealed at high tide. Colliding with it would be a serious accident or even death so its important that you know about it and then stay downwind of it.

How can you make these dangers as safe as possible?

  • First of all, make sure that you are aware of all the possible dangers at your chosen location. 
  • Ask other Kitesurfers, fisherman, surfers and the public. Check the internet.
  • Decide if it is a safe location to Kitesurf. if it isn’t then simply change location. If there are no other Kitesurfers at that location, find out why. 
  • Stay DOWNWIND of any dangers. When flying a kite, you do not get pulled into the wind, you go with the wind. By placing yourself downwind of any dangers you are eliminating the chance of being pulled towards them.
  • Lastly, keep your distance, this is your greatest safety aid as distance buys you valuable time to react and activate your safety systems in an emergency. 

The absolute minimum distance between you and any dangers is…

Two kite line lengths. 

This is roughly between 50-70 meters or 100 to 150ft.

50 meters is roughly 150ft. This is 2 tennis courts distance downwind of you and ANY danger, minimum.

Know this…

The most common cause of accidents in Kitesurfing are the result of

  • Unsafe launching of kites on the land with too much power and being too close to dangerous obstacles.
  • Falling over in shallow water below the knee.

Ask yourself – Are my skills good enough for this location?

When you are in the learning stages it should be clear to you by now that you must have plenty of space, away from any dangers. It is also easier in the beginning to practice in flat, shallow water that is above your knee and below your waist. For your first independent sessions avoid deep water, unless you have had your lessons in deep water and you are confident that you can recover your board as well as self-rescue if something went wrong. It is also wise to avoid large waves (waves are much bigger out to sea than they look from the land), busy locations or anywhere that has dangerous obstacles in the water or on the beach.

Waves look small from a distance but can be huge when you get close to them. Do you know how to ride in waves? If in doubt dont go out.

 “Safety has to come first. Every minute you spend in the water counts as valuable experience. Riding at different spots will further enhance your experience as well as improve your ability and understanding of riding in many different conditions. On top of that riding as often as you can will help you to master your kite and board control so you can enjoy yourself even more Evrim Blauth

“The Walk of Shame”

 To ride upwind means to sail into the wind or at least come back to the point at which you started. The so called “walk of shame” is where you have to walk back to where you started because you cannot Kitesurf back upwind. When you are learning to Kitesurf, you will drift. No one who is new to Kitesurfing starts riding upwind immediately so you need to budget for some walking back upwind. If you have had a break from Kitesurfing and have forgot the subtle body position that riding upwind requires, there is no question that you are going to drift downwind. If you have put up a kite that is too small or the wind simply drops then you are going to drift downwind. 

This is why you must be aware of any dangers that are a long way downwind of you. Whether you are experienced or inexperienced, if there are dangers downwind of you such as swimmers, rocks, harbour walls, ship wrecks or boats then you must be aware that if you cannot ride upwind for any reason, you will be drifting downwind, towards any dangers, fast.

If you have a lot of space at your location, you must be aware of how quickly you are drifting downwind. When you are focusing on learning or are having fun, it is easy to lose track of where you are. Drifting a long way downwind means you will have a giant walk. You could also be on your own which is also dangerous because no one will see you if you get into trouble and need help. 

General Safety Advice

  • Avoid Kitesurfing alone.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back even if you are kiting with friends or a group.
  • Study, understand and practice how to perform a self-rescue and an emergency pack downs in deep water.
  • Study, understand and practice how to self-land in all wind strengths and in all locations.
  • Keep a simple, small emergency mobile phone in a waterproof bag which you could put in the front of your wetsuit.

Site check made simple

  1. Always take five minutes before every Kitesurfing session to check what all the potential dangers are and decide if your location is suitable for your skill level. 
  2. Launch and Kitesurf as far away from any potential dangers as possible, if in doubt don’t go out.
  3. Shallow water is the most common cause of injury in Kitesurfing, stay in water that is above your knee.

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