I had a kitemare due to my own clumsiness and incompetence yesterday, and my helmet and impact vest made a big difference in the consequences, so I thought I should post this to share the experience.
I was coming to shore riding beachbreak in gusty winds of about 30 mph (flying an 8 an not overpowered at all) . We had been out about 3 hours total and I admit I was pretty tired. As I kicked the board off my feet I hit a small escarpment of sand and tripped. When I fell I failed to keep good control of the bar, and the kite powered up bigtime as I was falling. I got jerked into the air horizontally and flipped over onto my back. I hit the hard sand by the water on my head and lower back. The impact was so hard it rattled my teeth and left me dazed for a minute or two. The kite had landed on a side of the window and was stable once the bar was released.
There are a lot of things I should have done to avoid this, in particular paying more attention to the kite and being ready to release the bar as soon as I tripped. I also should have been thinking that small kites in 30mph are a lot different thana 12m in 20 mph!
What I wanted to stress in this post is that I took a big impact on the back of my head, and while my neck and scalp are sore I am fine and do not have a concussion. I am pretty sure the helmet made a big difference this time. The impact on my lower back ripped the fabric off my impact vest (it is pretty old) but I think it also helped me from having a lot more impact bruising or possibly even disk or spine damage.
So while I know helmets and vests won't always save you, and while I TOTALLY agree is is best not to f$%k up like I did in the first place, this incident was worth the years of riding with a helmet and vest where I never needed them once. It certainly made me determined to wear a helmet all the time and a vest in any remotely difficult conditions.
yeah triping on sand could be very dangerous, an instructor here was heading out to water then he triped and the kite started falling due to no wind in it and it just scraped the beach umbrellas with a couple of people in them. but luckly his kite powered back up in time at least your ok from the crash
I like safety gear because it lets me be more aggressive...I've bailed enough to know they happen in a split second (though you seem to have enough time to think about how much this hit may hurt), but with a helmet and vest (in water) or helmet and pads (on land), I don't like being timid when I get down...anyway, I think when you're timid or worried about getting hurt (because you're naked out there), that's a sure way to actually get hurt.
I had a similar situation. For me, I had just launched a 7m in about 28 knots. I bent down to pick up my board and somehow came unhooked (still not sure how it happened, I usually don't put the "chicken bone" in until I get out on the water, still not sure about that). I had only one hand on the bar because I was reaching for my board, and my first reaction was to hold on. I was really amazed how quickly I flew through the air. I would have guessed I could think quick enough to let go, but it all happened way too fast. The kite looped in about half a second and I went about 10 feet and let go of the bar, flagging the kite to one rear line.
Anyways, I was wearing a life jacket and a helmet. Luckily, it was a soft sand beach and I didn't land on my head, but I was glad I had the lifejacket when I hit the ground. Are life jackets better or worse than an impact vest? Life jacket is thicker, so it seems like it would be better to me. Impact vests seem less restrictive though.