A Guide to Basic Kitesurfing Safety
It may come as no surprise that kitesurfing is considered an extreme sport and, coincidently, that there is a slight element of danger involved. If you are new to it, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to keep you safe when kitesurfing in UK waters. Discover how to reduce your chance of finding yourself in trouble with our useful tips!
Start with Some Lessons
The British Kitesports Association believe it is vital that anyone wanting to try kitesurfing needs to invest in lessons by a qualified professional. It is not encouraged to teach yourself.
Not only will lessons educate you on the necessary water safety such as tides, riptides, swell and wind, it will also brief you over your equipment. It will make your overall learning experience much faster, and therefore enhancing your standard at a much faster pace. And not forgetting, they are super fun!
Ensure You Are a Strong Swimmer
With anything water-related, it is integral that you are a competent swimmer, especially when you are in the sea, where currents and riptides are likely.
With this in mind, you should never ride out to sea if you may be unable to swim back to shore in the event of an emergency.
Read the Beach Guidelines Before Entering the Water
Beach guidelines can usually be found at the entrance of the beach and offer information on the sports permitted at the beach and other information such as the nearest lifeguards to that location. The guidelines will vary from location to location, and you should check these before entering the water at your chosen destination. However, there are some overall guidelines you can follow that will ensure your own safety as well as that of other people.
Observe the Tides, Currents and Hazards in the Area
Before you enter the ocean, you must make sure you are aware of the tides and conditions.
Always observe the water before entering and watch where rips and rocks are located to ensure these areas are avoided.
Do not attempt kitesurfing if there are offshore winds and no close rescue hire is available.
If you are unsure, it is always best to ask a local before heading into the sea and if there is a real doubt, never enter the water.
Make sure you know the rescue signals. As previously mentioned, this and other tides, current and hazard-related information are the essential things that kitesurfing lessons will teach you as a beginner.
Make Sure You Wear the Correct Head Gear
When kitesurfing, you should always protect your head, especially if you are new to the sport.
Your helmet should fit you correctly and remain on throughout your session.
Check Over Your Equipment Before Entering the Sea
Knowing your equipment is key to ensuring you improve in kitesurfing.
Before you enter, you must make sure you know exactly how to use the equipment and where its limits may be.
Again, all of this will be covered in kitesurfing lessons, if you are a beginner. For a more detailed overview of the equipment required for kitesurfing, please take a look at our beginner’s guide to kitesurfing.
You must also check over the equipment for any general damage, and it should be repaired before hitting the water. If you are unsure of the repair, take your kit to an experienced individual, such as an authorised retailer or instructor, for a second opinion.
Double-check your kite leash and safety system and ensure it is safe to depower the kite in an emergency. On this note, it is always best to have a Plan B in an emergency, so try to have a plan of action in your head and understand that sometimes equipment can fail.
Always Have a Buddy Where Possible
It is always best to have someone with you when entering the water, regardless of the watersport. Kitesurfing in pairs is excellent for keeping an eye on one another as well as being good for morale and general support and encouragement.
In kitesurfing, it is also ideal for the more physical aspects which are harder to achieve on your own, such as launching. For more information, take a look at our blog on why you should have a kitesurfing buddy.
In cases where kitesurfing with a friend is not possible, make sure you tell someone where you are and give an estimated return time.
Be Alert of Your Surroundings
Always be aware of events around you. Keep an eye on other kiters and the location of your equipment. Take time to ensure you are making the best decisions which keep you and others out of harm's way.
Know Your Rights of Way
One of the best ways to ensure water safety in the sea is to know your right of way.
Right of way belongs to those in the following circumstances:
- Riders who are right hand forward, known as ‘starboard tack’ has the right of way compared to those who are left hand forward, referred to as ‘port tack’. Port tack must give way to the starboard tack rider.
- Downwind rider has the right of way to the upwind rider.
- If overtaking, the rider must pass up-wind of the other rider. The rider overtaking must ensure their kite is higher and indicate to the other rider that they are passing. In return, the downwind rider should lower their kite as safely as possible.
- Those leaving the water and entering the beach should give way to the rider entering the water from the beach.
- Always ensure you are a safe distance from others when jumping and check both upwind and downwind directions. Never risk jumping if you are uncertain!
Hopefully, we have broadened your knowledge of basic kitesurfing safety so you can feel more confident entering the water! If you have any handy safety tips, why not let us know on our social media channels!