Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Kitesurfing – Find Out How To Have A Safe, But Enjoyable Time 

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

  1.  Always kite with another person
  2.  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

Sign-up to your newsletter

Ramsgate Lifeboat

Margate Lifeboat

 

Acknowledgements

British Kitesports Association

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

Kent Pirates

Know who to call!

I can’t believe we are coming to the end of November already! We have been blessed with some really good weather recently and not too much rain. This month’s blog is all about knowing who to call in a coastal emergency.  Surprisingly, over half the people we talk to when we are out and about at community events, on beaches and coastal areas do not know that in the event of seeing or hearing an animal or a person in difficulty in the water that they should dial ‘999’ they should ask for the Coastguard straight away. Many people opt to call the Police or Fire Service which wastes several vital  minutes.

Coastguard Rescue Team Vehicles

The Coastguard have Operations Centre’s (CGOC’s) dotted across the UK, at Aberdeen, Belfast, Dover,  Falmouth, Holyhead, Humber, London, Milford Haven, Shetland, Stornaway and the National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham. Each is staffed 24/7 and answers ‘999’ calls from members of the public and Mayday distress calls via radio. In the event of an emergency at the coast, they will co-ordinate the tasking of search and rescue assets eg RNLI boats, independent lifeboats, Coastguard Rescue teams who are trained in mud  and cliff rescue, advanced first aid, advanced missing person search techniques; and of course search and rescue helicopters.

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team’s recent visit to Dover CGOC

Lifeboats and Coastguard are regularly called out to dogs who have either ventured or fallen down a cliff; or gone for an extended swim (often the owner may have also been cut-off by the tide).  If this should happen then the Coastguard should be called without delay via ‘999’ who will then task the lifeboat or Coastguard rescue team. Our Team enjoyed a recent visit to the Dover CGOC where we learned alot about how the Coastguard operates. Remember don’t delay if you think anyone or an animal is in trouble in the water call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard.

Other useful references:

Maritime and Coastguard Agency Terms of Reference

Search and Rescue Information

Keeping Safe At The Coast – Don’t Drink and Drown

Coastal Safety

 

 

Kite Surfing & Minnis Bay Sailing Club
Kent Pirates Kite Surfing Group

Over the past 7 days I have been out and about chatting to a couple of really great groups who both use the Thanet coastline for their fantastic activities. The first one being the Kent Pirates Kitesurfing School, who meet at Pegwell Bay. Kitesurfing is growing in popularity at the moment and is a really exhilarating one to learn. This group of kitesurfers were great to chat with and very keen on taking on-board the RNLI key safety messages for their hobby. After finishing my talk, several group members were carrying out their own Big Spring beach clean, which is a testamont to their commitment to helping the local environment and community. The Kitesurfing school recently ran some very popular free sessions for children during the Easter Holidays, backed by Ramsgate Town Council. 

RNLI 9 top key safety messages for kitesurfers are:

  • Always kite with another person.
  • If you go alone, take a means of calling or signalling for help.
  • Never ride out further than you can swim back.
  • Equipment failure does happen. Be prepared.
  • Check the conditions and tides. Don’t go out in conditions you can’t handle.
  • Check what sizes of kites other riders are using. If you do not have the correct size, do not go out.
  • Do not ask or allow someone who is not familiar with kites to help you launch or land – give them some training on how to do it.
  • Always tell someone you are going out and when you will be back.
  • Follow the safety advice from the governing body for kitesurfing, the BKSA, and other expert organisations.

More information on kitesurfing can be found here.

 

Minnis Bay Sailing Club members

My second visit involved delivering a dingy sailing safety talk to the brilliant Minnis Bay Sailing Club. The sailing club runs a very popular supper club for its members twice a month, also inviting along members of the co-hosted windsurfing club. It was to one of their superb supper club meetings I was invited along to.  Twenty five members attended the talk and were treated to me delivering one of the brand new ‘all singing, all dancing’ RNLI Community Safety talks which incorpoates eye catching and thought provoking video’s, infographics; and question and answer slides.  As well as chatting to the members, I was also able to hand out safety literature and the ever popular Respect the Water stickers.  It was a hugely enjoyable evening and I am very grateful to the Commodore and the Club members for hosting me.  Minnis bay Sailing Club are hosting one of the RYA ‘Push the Boat Out’ days on 19th May. These are a magnificant opportunity to try out sailing for free and to take a look around their club and meet it’s fantastic members. If you fancy having a go, then you must book before arriving on the day.

Further information on RNLI top tips on dingy sailing

Directions on how to find Minnis Bay Sailing Club

RYA ‘Push the Boat Out Day’.