What are the Dangers of Kitesurfing?
Here at F-One, we love everything to do with kitesurfing and see it as something everybody should try at least once – perhaps a great option for those with a New Year’s resolution to try something new! That said, it would be foolish to ignore the various risks associated with such an extreme water sport and it’s important to have an awareness of these dangers so you can continue to enjoy kitesurfing safely. We’ve taken a look at some of the main risks of kitesurfing and how you can overcome them.
One of the most obvious dangers to kite surfers is the conditions. Ideal settings include a regular sea breeze that is smooth and steady, whereas storms will result in the rapid change of wind speed and direction. It is usually recommended that beginner and intermediate riders avoid stormy conditions at all costs and even the most seasoned of riders must exercise caution in such settings. Strong winds can result in the rider getting lofted, where you can be carried by the gusts and impact rocks, outcrops, houses, trees and even power lines, depending on where you are kitesurfing. If you feel yourself yanked and out of control, deploy your safety as soon as possible, as it’s better to fall just a few metres than be carried higher and further towards danger. As a general rule of thumb, have some respect for nature, the sea and all that it is capable of. If you feel unconfident in the conditions or notice a rapid change, call it a day and head to shore until your next session.
In rare circumstances, kitesurfing equipment can fail when you need it most, resulting in the rider finding him or herself in difficulty whilst out on the water. This can be particularly detrimental for those who are kitesurfing alone and are struggling to find a way back to land. One of the worst examples of these is what’s known as “deathlooping” and describes your kite going into uncontrollable loops, dragging along the surfer with it. These occur by a line getting hitched or snagged to the bar or line breakage. Once you find yourself in a “death loop”, it can be very difficult to activate the safety release or cut the line, making it all the more dangerous. If you have any concerns over the reliability of your equipment, contact a trusted retailer for professional advice to put your mind at rest, if nothing else. Here at F One, we offer kitesurfing equipment in the UK of the highest possible quality to ensure the safety of riders is of paramount importance.
Other Crafts and Swimmers
Depending on where you are kitesurfing, the most dangerous aspect of the sport can be the other crafts and bathers in the water. Kite surfers travel fast, and it can be difficult to avoid boats and yachts that are within 25m of the kite line. Some water areas will be shared with wind surfers who can crash should they collide with kite lines. As such, keep your eyes up as well as down so you are ready to clear the water should anyone be approaching. Swimmers can be particularly difficult to spot during rough conditions, which is why it’s important to be as aware as possible of your surroundings and who else is sharing the water space. Keep at least 50m away from any swimmers and those that find it difficult to see at the best of times should exercise the correct precautions, including contact lenses, so as to avoid a collision.
Those that find themselves kitesurfing a little further afield will want to make themselves aware of the various sea creatures of the area and their dangers. Some jellyfish will have a strong venom that can inflict vast amounts of pain, in which case you’ll want to make sure all exposed flesh is suitably covered. Similarly, sea urchins can cause puncture wounds and infection, so wetsuit boots may be a requirement. It is rare that any water sport participants will come across sharks, whales or crocodiles, but it’s always good to be prepared. Research exactly what lives where you plan to kitesurf and plan accordingly. Remember, you are essentially ‘playing’ in their home, and it’s only natural for them to be curious, so try to stay calm and think clearly to safely remove yourself from the situation.
Those in search of sun, sea and sand on their kitesurfing expeditions may find themselves at more of a risk of sunburn than those who stay in the UK. Opt for long shorts and a long-sleeved rash vest or a full-length wetsuit to keep sun exposure to a bare minimum. As you would with any holiday, ensure any exposed areas such as your face and ears are covered in sun cream of an effective SPF factor. Kitesurfing is exhilarating and that can and will result in the rider losing track of just how tired they are. Try to listen to your body and call it a day before the wobbly arms and legs come into play. Those windsurfing in colder conditions are at risk of hypothermia if the correct equipment is not utilised. Extra-thick wetsuits and helmets, hoods, boots and gloves should be worn sparingly, as required by the temperatures.
That concludes our guide to the dangers of kite surfing and how to avoid them. Remember, there’s no better feeling than getting out on the open water, and risks and dangers aside, kitesurfing is an incredibly fun, adrenaline-fuelled sport that everyone can enjoy. As long as you take the correct precautions to minimise the dangers, chances are you’ll enjoy every second on the water. If you have any queries regarding equipment or would like to speak to a professional, please don’t hesitate to contact the helpful team at F-One today.