To All Kiters....
Kiting has changed a lot over the past year, even more so over the past two years....many new faces have appeared, and lots of the older ones are gone from the scene. Kiting has been enjoyed by many in Hawaii, being one of the premier spots on the planet to kiteboard, yet there have also been many problems as a result. From time to time, we need to communicate the the "bad side" to help reduce these problems. It's the remaining older faces in our kiting community that need to spread the experience from the past and carry forth messages of safe kiting behavior, and for the newer faces to learn, and adopt safe practices.
The kiting community grows in population, and has a high turnover rate, this leads to unsafe activities, poorly trained new kiters, and lots of kiters with bad habits and examples. We urge all those to take a step back, and realize the potential dangers of kiting, to understand the conditions and situations in which accidents can happen, and how they can be averted. Many kiters around the world have been either killed, or seriously injured. Most of these have been hurt on land, in the launch zone. Broken limbs and ribs, amputated fingers, severe lacerations in the head and other areas have all occurred in Oahu. Practicing safe kiting can help prevent some of these injuries.
We still risk losing kiting access in Hawaii, although it seems to have survived well despite the continuous flow of issues that happen in all areas where kiters frequent the islands. Accidents, close calls, and downright abusive behavior continues to occur. Our goal is to minimize the occurrence of these problems. The first step is to practice safe kiting as an individual, and the second step is to encourage safe kiting to others.
What is safe kiting ? Safe kiting starts with maintaining safe equipment, and having good conduct in the launch and setup areas. Keeping your kites cleared of the launch zone when not using them, clustering unused kites in the park. Understanding how to launch safely, observing wind and weather conditions. Being careful and considerate to all beach goers, including those who stray into the launch area. Remember most bystanders have no idea what kiting involves, and it's the kiter's responsibility to yield to those people.
Consider use of a helmet to help prevent head injuries. Remember to never get your limbs entangled with the kite lines, and carry a hook knife in case you need to cut yourself free. Be careful to select the proper kite size for the conditions, and your skill level. Pre flight your kite, to make sure the lines are not tangled or misconnected.
Consider not using a board leash, which is culprit in many injuries involving the board. Good body dragging skills are needed to get back to the board, yet is worth the decreased risk of getting hit by the board.
After launching slowly & carefully, continue out into the water and proceed to move away from the beach to maintain 200 foot clearance at all times. Also maintaining good safe distances from other water vessels, including fishing boats, windsurfers, swimmers, and other kiters. Please stay out of the buoyed areas that are designated for swimmers. This is valid 24 hours a day, not just when the lifeguard is present.
Be on the lookout for downed kiters, and other people in trouble out in the ocean. Hey someday you might need help out there too! Especially when it is getting near dark, make sure everyone gets in safely. If there is a downed kiter, do your best to help without endangering yourself. If in doubt of your ability, best to go to get assistance instead of making a worse situation. Helping a kiter with a lost board will greatly increase your chances of a free beer (or more!).
Always be careful when approaching the beach area. Please refrain from any tricks, such as jumping in the shorebreak or beach areas. Moving your kite in a slow and cautious manner is the best behavior in the landing zone.
In conclusion, promoting safe kiting practices will help reduce accidents overall. It goes a long way in our community to continue to self regulate and educate each other, so to keep kiting a positive and safe sport for all at the beach.