here some stories and experiences:
I saw once a dark cloud coming...directly onshore wind...in 2001.
No quick release, just a velcro on my wrist, with a leash too short...
Great day, stayed out until the cloud was really close, so I decided to go in.
Luckily I unhooked and flew the kite low, so someone could catch it, but about 100m from shore the big gust hit...and I got yanked behind the kite, and then let go...since the leash was too short, the kite looped and the line broke, so the kite flew away, and after some windsurfers tried to catch it, it flew further on into trees. Lucky, no one gut hurt, but could have been really bad!
Lesson learned: come in early enough, don't wait too long until the gust hits! It can turn an awesome day into a kitemare for you and others
With a friend, who couldn't stay upwind yet, I drove to a huge beach and area. We launched in about 15 knots and he was quickly downwind. We had sideshore wind, but out on the ocean was a big, dark cloud. Well, with sideshore it is no problem, right?
But I thought, better go close to him, so I kited downwind. Once I reached him, our kites started to stall. They fell down onto the beach and I lucky reacted quickly and yelled: get the kites, hold them down. So we immediately caught the kites and 30 sec later the 30-40 knots gusts hit with onshore winds and the dark cloud came to us!
Lesson learned: always be aware of what is around, no matter the wind direction. If the kites stall and fall out of the sky, immediately get to your kite and hold on to it, since the wind is about to change direction and do something not pleasant.
Riding in ok strong winds, dark clouds come closer. Then the wind increases to 30+ knots. Being on a 12 with my 95 kg I can manage it, but was at my limit with the 35+ knots. No one on the beach, the other riders on the water trying to survive as well.
Should I kite close to shore and release? Knowing many stories and experienced failures of my quick releases as well over the last years, I rather stay out instead of getting yanked behind a kite because of a qr failure...but the power is hard, and I'm fighting. So finally I see the other kiters came down and I give signs that I need help landing my kite. Once I got attention, I fly my kite low just above the water, ride very slow to keep control, so the kite helper can catch the kite while being in the air. If I feel, the helper cannot catch it, I kite out again and will try again. Because I don't want to be on land with an overpowered kite!
Lesson learned: you can hold down big gusts on water. It is safer to stay out on the water (if not offshore or cold water), than trying to land your kite in these winds on shore.
You can release, but be aware of lines get stuck and the kites still pull or even worse, loop!
Fly your kite just above the water, here it has the least amount of power, because it is at the very edge of the wind window. And you can edge harder. Ride very slow, otherwise you will loose the grip of the edge and then the control over the kite and its power.
Give sign to someone on the beach that you want to land (hand on your head). Once someone sees you and gets ready to help, keep flying the kite low and ride even slower, if possible. The helper on land needs to catch the kite while flying in the air. If he misses to catch it, fly the kite slowly up again, ride a bit further out, and start coming back again, kite low. Don't get on shore with the kite up in the air. Normally, you only get hurt on shore!