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Kiteboarding Do's and Don'ts

Kiteboarding Don’ts

  1. Don’t fly near or over people. Don’t even fly within 100 yards upwind of beach-goers. Experts may violate this rule by sailing among windsurfers and other kiteboarders, but novices should avoid others at all costs.
  2. Don’t fly near power lines, roads, trees, electrical storms and so on. Power lines are a particular problem because they cross water and run along some shores. A kite can drag you into a power line that you think is a safe distance downwind. For that matter, a kite can drag you onto a highway that runs near the shore.
  3. Don’t fly a full-sized traction kite on land – at least not until you have a lot of experience with it. It’s best to walk into hip-deep water before you even launch your kite. If the water is too deep for walking, do what kiteboarders in the Gorge do: Swim.
  4. Don’t fly in onshore wind until you are an expert. You’re likely to get pulled onto the beach.
  5. Don’t fly in offshore wind unless you are an expert. You’ll get blown offshore. This rule doesn’t apply, of course, to small lakes.
  6. Avoid gusty winds. They make learning very difficult and somewhat dangerous.
  7. Don’t go any farther from shore than you are willing to swim back.
  8. Don’t get tangled in the kite lines or bridle. If you have to self-rescue (fold up the kite while on the water and paddle to shore), pull the kite to you by pulling only on the kite line to which your kite leash is attached. Put no tension on the other line.
  9. Don’t practice jumping on land. It’s really dangerous, especially if the wind isn’t rock-steady. If you want to practice jumping before you get on a board, do it in deep water.
  10. Don’t fly the kite while holding the control bar at one end. The kite will spin out of control and twist the lines so that further control is impossible.
  11. Don’t unwind twisted kite lines by looping the kite (unless you are an expert). Spin your body instead.

Kiteboarding Do’s

  1. Spend several hours flying a small stunt kite on land before you fly a big traction kite.
  2. Follow normal kite-flying procedures; that is, fly in clear, open spaces.
  3. Always fly or ride with a kite leash that (a) ensures that the kite totally depowers, should you have to let go of the control bar and (b) keeps the kite attach to you when you let go. This can save you from a long swim. Most important, it helps keep the kite and control bar from hurting other people.
  4. Always employ a kite leash with a reliable quick-release device. The quick-release ensures that you can quickly, easily and thoroughly separate from the kite should you need to.
  5. Most kiteboarders will be pulled through a briar patch, across a highway and into a 10,000-volt power line before they will let go of the control bar. It’s an anti-survival instinct. To overcome it, practice releasing the control bar under safe, controlled conditions.
  6. Consider wearing a helmet to protect your head from the board.
  7. Enlist a friend to help you launch your kite.
  8. Ride with a buddy who can assist you, and whom you can assist, should something go wrong.
  9. Wear a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket if you have any doubt about your ability to swim.
  10. Wear a wetsuit, booties, sunscreen, Lycra shirt, sunglasses and other protection from the elements.
  11. Learn in light, steady wind.
  12. Use the kite to pull you to one side of the board or the other whenever the board is upwind of you. That way you can avoid being directly downwind of the board and in a position where a wave or gust can throw it into you.
  13. Always keep the board’s whereabouts in mind. If the kite starts to pull you into the board, release the control bar.
  14. Always know the kites position and direction of travel. When in doubt, fly the kite high.
  15. If you launched in side-shore winds and are being blown into a lee shore, start planning well ahead of time how you are going to get the kite down safely. Wait too long and you will find yourself in trouble.

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