Is kitesurfing dangerous? Kitemares and how to avoid them

Jürgen from Lifetravellerz, has been kiting for 11 years now:  

Reviewing the last eleven years now, I can remember some situations which have been more than dicey. Most of this situations happened a long time ago and were the result of insufficient instruction and kite equipment far away from modern standards. But let’s forget the horror scenarios from my initial period of kitesurfing. Even as a long-standing kitesurfer with a lot of experience you can find yourself in dangerous situations from time to time. 

Lifetravellerz

Between Sicily and the mainland there’s the Strait of Messina, one of the most travelled water way in the world. It’s in the Mediterranean sea and has nothing common with a calm water – this water way is more like a river. You may not check this at first sight, but if you let yourself float in the water, you notice the insidious danger.

The kitespot is called Punta Pellaro and with bright weather the locals certify sideshore wind between 15 and 25 knots. There are nearly no tourists on this spot, which is also the reason for the nonexistent infrastructure. No kitestation, no rescue, no boat.  However, everyone has fun on the water. On this special day it had about 30 knots and I was quite far out with my 6 practicing some tricks. I would say it was quite in the middle between Sicily and  Calabria. When I was doing a transition with downloop suddenly I heard a strange noise, followed by a unusual feeling on the kite. I looked to my kite and saw that one line was ripped.
But the kite was not the problem, oddly enough it didn’t cause trouble. I was looking around and then I realised: Now I’m seriously in trouble. There wasn’t anybody around me.  Nobody how could have seen me and nobody who could help me. My thoughts were: “Next stop Africa.” So I started to collect my bar, tried to remind how to do Self Rescue and use the kite as a sail which would not get easy with such a small kite.
After I had collected the bar I started to swim with the kite in my hand. Suddenly a windsurfer appeared on the horizon. He seemed to come in my direction. And luckily he really did! After some minutes he was next to me and offered his help. I was so happy, held one of his straps with one hand, with the other hand I still held my kite. In this “construct” we were able to sail back to the shore.
Afterwards it turned out that this whole rescue was not a lucky coincidence. My wife was watching me while my line ripped, the kite dropped and I didn’t relaunch it again. So she asked the young italian guy for help. Otherwise I am not sure that on this day someone would have found me out there.

Since this day I regularly check my lines and I don’t feel comfortable going out on a spot when there is no one else.

DCIM100GOPRO

On their site Lifetravellerz Melanie & Jürgen write about their kite trips, roadtrips and sports activities. With their VW Bus “Luigi” they explore the most beautiful european places. In winter they like to travel more far away, always on search for wind and amazing beaches.


James, lives in Switzerland, started to kite 5 years ago:

darkslide2

There is one terrible kite situation which for sure I will not forget: With two other teachers I was at the beginner beach. There was a guy who was not a very experienced kitesurfer who wanted to let his girlfriend – who had no clue about kiting – help him to launch his kite. Before he was on the kitestation which is situated a little bit downwind. They strongly advised him not to go out with his huge kite in the conditions of this day. But he ignored all advices and warnings.  This was the reason why he went up to the beginner’s beach and tried it there. He had pumped a 14 and the wind was super strong – much too strong for this kite size. Overpower was putting it mildly.
Directly after launching and putting on his boots he was pulled into the air from his kite. There was an old concrete bunker on the beach, and finally he hit it heavily.  No wonder that he was severely hurt – his lower thigh was turned into a wrong direction and he had an open fracture, upon his boots a piece of his bone came out. Also his knee was not anymore there where a knee normally should be. We had immediately alarmed the station and called for help. The ambulance needed about 30 minutes to come. In the meantime the guy lost a lot of blood, the whole sand around him was full with it. Finally he was brought into the hospital, where he got initial treatment. Later on he was flown to his homeland Russia where he had surgery,  following medication and so on.
This was the worst kite situation I saw so far!

Sharing

Leave a Reply

6 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
trackback

[…] back of my head that always reminds me: What if??? I don’t have to list possible injuries or kitemares which can happen cause there are so many different ones. And I already experienced some really […]

trackback

[…] critical incidents know how quickly it can go wrong – as you can also read in this article about kitemares. It’s a fact: Even if you act as a role model in case of safety aspects this does not mean […]

Agostino Martino
18. February 2017 10:14

Hi to all, I’m Agostino from NewKiteZone IKO kitecenter here in Punta Pellaro (Reggio Calabria, Italy). I would like to precise: we are present on our spot 10 years ago now, with all facilities AND boat rescue in the SAFE side of the spot (wind side-on to on = Italy coast in case of problems, not Africa….). Jorgen, as I read, did the wrong choice to exit in a point what is simply dangerous, in fact in that point the wind is side-side off. I want give my advise in general to avoid kitemares: 1) study the whole kite spot… Read more »

trackback

[…] So, I hope these reasons are enough motivation for those who have never tried to kite at a spot with very challenging conditions or in cold weather. But: As kiting in difficult conditions involves higher risks there are  some things to consider before you go! After all, nobody wants to experience a kitemare like the guys in this article! […]

trackback

[…] cause nearly every kitesurfer had the one or other kitemare (read more about personal kitemares in this article). Also remind yourself to regularly go through all the safety rules. If you are afraid of e. g. […]