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Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2002 7:03 pm
by RickI
Imagine ...

You are flying through the sky on a clear, blue, sunny Florida day and can see for miles! You are in the midst of something exciting and extreme, the cameras are rolling and you are stoked! Then ... things go wrong, very wrong. You are ripped from your kite, sickly plummeting from almost 150 feet high, wildly out of control. You see your life charge blindingly before your eyes and in seconds feel you are done.

Then you slam into the water and the world goes black! .... PERMANENTLY?

Neil Hutchinson says...

If you don't give a damn, and choose to be stupid, like many riders these days, then stop reading now. The Darwin Awards for singularly astonishing ways to needlessly and stupidly end your life are probably looking for a few kiteboarders.

If you care about staying fit enough to keep shredding and learn from Neil's hard won lessons, read on.

Neil Hutchinson is no stranger to extreme sports and putting it all on the line. He was one of the three riders to complete the world-record Red Bull crossing from Key West to Cuba in insanely rough 10 to 17 foot seas. If the wind wasn’t ripping him skyward off the crest of a roiling wave, he was power diving down the face at frightening speed. Talk about "Blue Crush!" He was overpowered for 8 ½ hours, and claimed he would "make it on his board or in a body bag!" He made it on the board, not the body bag.

Neil has been shredding hard for three years and for the last couple has been competing as a professional in kiteboarding competitions. He recently returned from the Ford Gorge Games and a wrangling session with honking winds. He has also been running parasailing boats for 11 years and knows his way very well around paragliding. He is a hard edged, skillful kiteboarding competitor and singularly well accomplished shredder. Oh ... and he is the only person I know that can shred while holding a cig and a beer!

Neil, after landing in Cuba
"... anyone got a beer and some cigs?"
(Photo courtesy of Red Bull 2001)

Neil and another pro rider had gotten together with some professional photographers to shoot some riding footage recently in Florida. There was a problem through .... no wind! Neil figured to just tow high off the water under a large kiteboarding kite, pop loose and style in prime-form all the way to the base. It isn't that different from parasailing after all, is it? (WRONG). The first flight went well, or at least no one went to the hospital. Neil towed up to about 80 feet before popping the snap shackle and falling slowly to the water. He was hooked into to a regular kiteboarding harness with the snap shackle connecting him to the 150 ft. towline attached to the handle strap on the back of the harness. In other words, he was being towed aloft backwards! All this and seeing the world behind you as you are pulled up to the height of an eight story building.

On the second, ill-fated tow, he made it to 80 feet again. The cameras were rolling, which is like dumping fuel on a raging fire for many riders. You get stoked and feel the need to get extreme. Judgment was shoved into the backseat and the adrenaline rush made him go for more. Neil said not to fall into this trap when you are in front of the cameras. Stick to the familiar and be cool, you will stay healthier.

At a height of 80 feet on the second tow, Neil cycled his kite, whipping it up to build apparent wind speed and altitude. It also deserves mention that Neil had a board on for this tow, significantly increasing the danger. Following this power-up maneuver and still being towed at high speed, Neil lifted almost vertically to the full extent of the line--almost 150 feet off the water. Looking up, he noticed his kite looked like it was going to burst any second under the intense force. He reached behind him to release the towline snap shackle but the load became just too great and broke the harness line connecting the bar to his harness. So, like a cartoon figure, Neil was suspended with one end of the bar in his hand, feeling lost and quite sick. He was then ripped free from the bar, leaving his kite far behind and blasted towards the water out of control. He only remembers looking down, seeing the water and thinking, “Oh my God! I am done.â€

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2002 8:26 pm
by kruzlifix
Great story!
but where is the picture of neil being 150 m up in the sky behind (or above) the boat?

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2002 8:44 pm
by RickI
Hello Andreas,

The fate of the footage of the accident is still up in the air. If it becomes available I will pass the word and hopefully some images along. It would be interesting to see. It should help to hammer home the idea that using dynamite as a way to fly would be quicker and potentially have a similar outcome to kite towing.

Rick Iossi

Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2002 12:08 am
by Fabe

If you wanna see a small clip from a similar attempt of imitating Icarus follow this link:

This one is from an 2001 kitesurf event in Germany with no wind. The kiter good rider an kite-instructor. As far as I know he wasn´t injured.


Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2002 11:29 am
by Guest
ust like anything else, their is a right way and a wrong way to go about towing a kite.

we have been towing kites for 2 years now without a single incident. because of this, i feel that the way you attack it comparing it to dynamite and refering to darwin and saying that if you must try it first appl for darwin award is kinda stupid and oviously way way one sided. not everyone here thinks alike, and not all think like ou.

we use a boat and rope to tow kites, but we do it a bit differernt. we use much shorter ropes like about 25-50 feet and we dont really use it to see how high we can get or how much load we can put it on it. in fact, it used mostly for kitesurfing n zero wind. we harness to kite, fly it one handed while holding a wkaeboard handle in the other hand, sometimes shackling to the rope instead of just hanging on. how you attach depend on style, experience doing it, and willingness to eat it. you then use the boat to get and keep you and the kite moving, and you use the kite for doing your jumps. kind of like wakeboarding wxcept with a kite to prolong your jumps.

so then, i guess we are wreckless? careless kiteboarders? just looking to be hut or killed? okay then buddy. whatever you say. i say that by doing it 2 years without a single incident thus far indicates a little different.

i do not however practice or recommend anyone practice using thier kite for lifting to great hieghts as neil did. what we do is relatively low keyed in comparison. we are basically just kitesurfing with a boat for wind. it works.

Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2002 11:44 am
by Royce
How do you get that to work. Wouldn't you be towed backwards by the boat or if you were facing the boat be backwards to the kite. I can't see a way to face the boat and kite nor hold onto the handle and do it.

Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2002 12:25 pm
by RickI
Several people have been injured doing this activity, some very seriously. The loads on the equipment are much higher than during normal kiteboarding. You have the full weight of the flier suspended for minutes. You have continuous drag on the kite for minutes, i.e. it is in jump position for almost the entire duration of the tow. If almost anything breaks the kite will spin, fold or otherwise dump the kiter like a rock.

What sort of things can break and cause problems?

1. Kite lines, I have had at least 8 of these break during normal kiteboarding over the last four years. I replace things more frequently these days in advance of failures.

2. Pigtails, at least three have broken.

3. Leader lines, one I think.

4. Harnesses, two have broken including one in mid jump.

5. Torn kites in flight, one

All this with a fraction of the loading of towing. You have been fortunate to have had no breakages, incidents or accidents in your reported two years of experience with this. You must focus on keeping loads to a minimum and keeping the flier low.

To advocate people doing this activity with improper equipment that is not strong enough, without proper harnesses and safety gear is irresponsible, despite your experience with it. The point of this story was to try to convince people not to try this ill advised activity. Thanks for helping to talk more people into potentially getting needlessly injured by misuse of gear. Several kiters have not had your luck in this activity, far from it.

Rick Iossi

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 2:37 am
by Guest
On 2002-08-29 12:44, Royce wrote:
How do you get that to work. Wouldn't you be towed backwards by the boat or if you were facing the boat be backwards to the kite. I can't see a way to face the boat and kite nor hold onto the handle and do it.
boat is off to left side of me, but ahead of me so it pulls me forward and away from kite. kite is off to right side of me, flying as if their was wind. if you viewed it, or us from air, it would look similar to a somehwat flatened out V with the boat at one tip, kite at other, and me at point of V. sorry if sounds confusing, but it works, i do it. most kitesurfers who witness are usually pretty amazed and say that they dont see how we do it.

You have been fortunate to have had no breakages, incidents or accidents in your reported two years of experience with this. You must focus on keeping loads to a minimum and keeping the flier low.
excessive loads? i dont think so, not in this situation i describe. have never broken a line, pigtail, harness, towrope or any other while performing it. boat driver must have sense and reasoning to know not to throttle up if i jump, trying to see how high he can make me go. understand, we are kitesurfing with the kite, using the boat for power, we are not manlifting or parasailing.

i agree that neil placed excessive loads on his equipment, much more so than i, and i agree one should never do what he did. but i do not think we should be viewed as irresponsible by guys like you for doing it just because some guys like neil decided that they want to push it beyond its limits. if it weren't for simple things like experimentation rick, then we wouldn't even have kitesurfing here for us to do today would we? understand too that i am not trying to advocate anyone to do anything with their kite as you say, neither do i see how you warped what i said around into that. i think in my first post i compared what we do to wakeboarding with a kite, not manlifting. what I am trying to advocate is for people like you to stop being so judgemental of people like neil or me or whoever for trying the untried and experimenting a bit. i guess if you ever see us or anyone else off of one of your local beaches participating in what i describe, you will refer to them or us as careless, stupid, and seeking a darwin award. i myself like to think that their will also be others present who may view it as another milestone or maybe give them birth to a new idea, or find it interesting, rather than just slam the door shut on it and write it off as stupid and carelss.

mnay thanks for sharing neils experience with us all so that we may use better judgement the next time anyone on this forum decides to try to sail 100+ feet into the air on a kite. something that i personally never have and never will try to do. but ya never know whos going to be next to try so it doesnt hurt to share the information. keep it coming.

g'day to you mate

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 8:18 am
by Guest
Sylvain Hoceini, aka Butcher, french pro F One rider, broke his back doing this 2 years ago while towing with a jet ski..

there is so many good things to go when there is no wind !!!


Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 10:25 am
by Guest
On 2002-08-30 09:18, Anonymous wrote:
Sylvain Hoceini, aka Butcher, french pro F One rider, broke his back doing this 2 years ago while towing with a jet ski..

there is so many good things to go when there is no wind !!!

right right. isnt their video of him doing that silliness floating around the internet somewhere? had it on my pc, but harddrive failure=nothing on pc=bought new hd=running with nuthing but windows at moment.