I've had a total of 20~25 sessions since getting started in the sport, and just had my first kitemare about a week ago. I definitely learned some lessons and wanted to share my experience.
It was a light wind day so I took out my giant door board and my 14m kite. I was having a pretty good session and got a little over-confident, and tried for a big jump when there was a gust of wind and some chop to pop from. I didn't land the jump, and while I was in the air, I was pushed far enough down wind that I was under the kite when I hit the water. I didn't move the kite to either side, so it was at noon. Since the wind was light and I had essentially fallen directly under the kite, it was out of the wind window. It stalled and fell down nearly on top of me. With no tension in the lines, they became tangled during the fall, but I didn't notice at the time.
I swam away from the kite to get some tension back in the lines and move it to the edge of the wind window, but by the time I was able to relaunch, I noticed that the steering line had wrapped around the center line. The kite relaunched itself before I could correct the problem. The kite went into a death loop and slammed back into the water. Since the wind was light and the kite wasn't pulling too hard, I didn't pull the chicken loop release yet and spent some time trying to untangle the lines, but I was unsuccessful. Eventually, I realized I would have to release the chicken loop to avoid the kite powering up and creating an even more dangerous situation.
After releasing the chicken loop, I was dismayed to see that the safety line wasn't being pulled through the bar, so the other 3 lines weren't getting enough slack. I'm not sure if this is an issue with the bar or possibly due to the lines being tangled and creating friction. In the meantime, while treading water, one of the lines had gotten behind me. A gust of wind came and the kite tumbled over itself and got into a bow tie, and the force pulled the lines and wrapped one around my leg. I was briefly pulled under water before freeing myself. This was the scariest moment of the whole thing. After freeing my leg from the line, I saw how the kite was bow tied and the safety line was not pulling free. I had no choice but to remove the leash and free myself from the kite entirely.
I was in deep water maybe 500 meters from shore. Scary. My board was visible but far away. I figured the safest thing was to swim to the kite to use it as floatation. Because my lines were a tangled mess and I wasn't sure if the kite was really flagged out, I swam to the kite first and then pulled in my bar and the mess of tangled lines. I got on the kite and threw my bar in. The kite was floating but the canopy was half full of water due to the fact that a line or two had wrapped around it and created the bow tie. I was eventually able to get the kite somewhat untangled and create a sail.
Two fellow kiters came over to check on me (there are still good people in the world!). One even went and grabbed my board and took it to shore. But I was so far out and the wind was so light that it took over an hour of using my kite as a sail to make it back to shore. At least I made it, and somehow all of my gear survived too.
I am one of those people who took tons of lessons, is super concerned about safety, regularly watches videos on self rescue, surviving death loops, etc... and somehow I still made these mistakes and got myself into trouble. It's humbling for sure. I think it's a good reminder that I need to not get overconfident and take unnecessary risks. I was lucky that the kite remained inflated and served as a life boat, because in my condition I'm not sure if I would have had the strength to swim back to shore from that far out.
• I shouldn't have attempted to do a jump, something I'm still a novice at, when I was so far from shore. I should have assumed that something might go wrong and attempted the jump closer to shore in order to minimize the risk of getting stranded so far out.
• I should have released my chicken loop as soon as I realized that the kite was in a death loop, instead of trying to fix it. By spending so much time trying to fix the problem I might have done more damage to the kite or gotten myself into even more trouble by getting tangled in the lines.
• I need to figure out if there's something really wrong with the safety line on my bar, and fix it if necessary. This would have possibly prevented me needing to disconnect my leash and separate me from the kite entirely in deep water. If I had pulled the chicken loop release earlier, maybe the safety line would have not gotten stuck as it did.
• I need to bring the kite down during the jump so that it doesn't stall out in the first place.
Things I Did Right:
• Made sure wind was cross onshore before going out in the first place, so that I knew I could do a self rescue if needed.
• Recognized problems and used safety systems effectively, even though I should have done so earlier.
• Performed a self rescue, eventually.
• Didn't die.
I'm heading out again tomorrow for my first session since this all happened. Will be sure to start out the session by testing my safety systems and make sure everything is in order.