Kitesurfing is arguably one of the most exciting and adrenaline fuelled sports you can do on the water. But, staying safe is the most crucial part in having a fabulous time. This blog explores some of the basic safety aspects of kitesurfing.
What is Kitesurfing?
Kitesurfing also known as kiteboarding (combining aspects of wakeboarding, snow boarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and skateboarding) is a wind-powered water sport utilising a kite and a board to help propel you across water. Despite the name, it doesn’t have to involve wave surfing kitesurfing can be done on flat expanses of water, as well as in choppy sea or in big waves. All you need is water and wind. Dependant on the strength of the wind and size of rider various sizes of kites are available.
UK and Irish waters are incredibly unpredictable and one of the biggest risks which kitesurfers face is kiting alone or in adverse weather conditions.
RNLI lifeboat crews launched 99 times to kitesurfers in trouble in 2015. Out of these call-outs the majority were down to adverse conditions and kit failure. RNLI Lifeguards were called to deal with 54 kitesurfing related incidents in 2015.
Following some simple steps to stay safe will reduce your chances of getting into difficulty and also help you gain the most out of this fabulous sport.
Kitesurfing Safety Hacks
- Always kite with another person
- If you do go alone, take a protected means of ‘calling for help’ such as a fully charged mobile phone, VHF radio and or Personal Locator Beacon (registered to you) which is easily accessible at all times.
3. Tell someone where you are kiting and the latest time that you will return. Consider downloading the free to use SafeTrx app on your smart device registering yourself as the vessel. This will help the Coastguard and lifeboat locate you quickly should things go wrong.
4. Never ride out further than you can swim back.
5. Have a plan should your equipment fail, practise your drills regularly.
6. Prior to kiting check the weather, tides and swell forecasts. Popular swell forecast websites and app’s include: Windfinder, Wind Guru and Magic Seaweed. When talking about checking the swell always consider: Wave height, Swell direction and Power of the waves.
7. Always kite within your capability, don’t go out in conditions which you can’t handle. If the conditions are on the edge of your ability wait until a day where you can easily kite.
8. If you are a new comer to the sport or haven’t been kiting for a while grab some coaching sessions from a recognised/approved instructor or club. Follow safety advice from the British Kitesports Association and other registered clubs.
If you are learning overseas, make sure that you can communicate easily with your instructor. Never be afraid to ask about the kit you will be using. Learning with new equipment in excellent condition is ideal, beginners should always be given personal flotation devices (PFD) and helmets as standard.
9. Check what size of kite other riders are using. If you don’t have the correct size don’t go out.
10. Wear the right kit for the job eg wetsuit, helmet, buoyancy aid, boots whilst on the water. Long sleeved top/trousers, helmet, knee/elbow pads, back protection and strong footwear for land based activity.
11. Observe kitesport zones – Please observe local regulations and if you are unsure ask other riders, beach users or local beach/coastal officials.
12. If you are asking someone to assist you in launching or landing provide some training to help them carry out the procedures. Don’t ask anyone to help/land who isn’t familiar with kites.
13. Check out the latest government advice for the area where you will be operating to ensure you comply with the latest COVID-19 pandemic regulations.
Andy Mills (Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team) says “Our team want people to enjoy themselves kitesurfing at the coast by making sure their visit is one to remember and not one they would rather forget. Taking some simple precautions and having a plan should things go wrong will help hugely in keeping people safe.”
Other useful links
Kitesurfing and Minnis Bay Sailing Club Visit
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British Kitesports Association
Royal National Lifeboat Institution