From another site, another kiters interpretation from French media, 2nd death freakish, stay safe The first victim was married and had two kids. He was a surgeon. While he was described as an experienced kiter he made a very bad choice. The tide was going out and he should have waited till he had more space from the walls and be further away from the cliffs that cause turbulence. The guy that saw the accident said he just should have waited a little more, however he impatiently launched in a dangerous position. Turbulence can be very dangerous. Your kite can collapse and re power up deep in the wind window. This is what happened. What is worse is that when a kite collapses in turbulence the lines lose tension and it can be hard to activate the safety release without tension. He was also too close to obstacles. He was lifted once and hit a be arm, he was lifted again and hit a stone wall. He could not be revived. He was supposed to meet with his wife and kids who were waiting for him in the mountains. Distance and patience are both your friends. Launch in the right place and at the right time. The second accident is a very good example of how distance on the water is so important. His kite got caught on the mast of a catamaran. The Cat flipped instantly, most likely due to the kite becoming an anchore either in the water or powering up in the worst way in the wind. The kiter became trapped underwater and drowned.
My experience releasing my CL in sketchy situation (a bit of a death loop) is: I FAILED TO RELEASE! I couldn't believe it because I practice releasing on purpose when kiting. Luckily I got a second chance to release and I succeeded.
Reason was: cold hands, a little wet... and my hands slipped on the CL while I was being dragged and tossed on the ground. Lesson learned is to practice the muscle memory to grab the CL with a very firm grip. Normally the CL releases easily so I never though of using force to grab the CL, but since then I practice releasing with a lot of forearm power. I was lucky I was not too powered up when I got flung (still spent 2 weeks sidelined by chest bruises...). Maybe it could have helped those poor guys...
Over the years I have read countless attempts to activate safety systems on kites in which the rider has failed to do so.
It can be near impossible to activate anything if you've been taken by surprise by an out of control kite in high wind that supermans you across the beach, slamming you into the ground, you're facing backwards, you're probably upside down, your arms are protecting your head or bracing for the next impact with the ground and if you're lucky enough not to be knocked out then these systems are nearly always activated once the accident is over.
I guess there are occasions where we can blame ourselves for getting into a dangerous situation but I wouldn't blame someone for failing to activate. Practice is great but it's rarely a saviour once the accident is in motion.
Developing the ability to rapidly and reliably open a quick release is an important skill for all kiters. As important as this skill is, it isn't a magic bullet protecting against all harm. We may still react too slowly and often do just that sad to say.
We need to use our heads and good judgment. The later isn't always that easy a thing as we often are more fond of just doing and working things out as they come along. Complacence is one of the most dangerous aspects of kiting and is responsible for many accidents.
If you set up too close to a wall, the wind lulls and then gusts it is quite possible you may not have enough time to open your QR. You use good judgment and launch somewhere else with cleaner wind or at least set up far enough away to allow some reaction time.
I still don't have sufficient details about what actually happened in the catamaran accident. If the sailboat suddenly turned into the kiter, particularly from a blind area, the outcome may have been unavoidable. If the kiter saw the sailboat operating nearby before it turned into him, consciously adding a good buffer zone might have avoided the accident. When kiting near traffic, always do your best to use distance as strange things will happen through time, vessels turning into you, kites stall, gear breaks, etc..
This video was recently posted on Facebook from Vietnam and came to mind when I heard about one of the accidents in France. These guys got away with launching in some particularly bad conditions, no buffer from buildings, dirty wind (breaking waves can create plenty of air turbulence) and a messy breaking sea. I bet they don't always get away with problem-free launches however particularly with tourists riding on their own.
for an untrained reaction it usually takes about 3 seconds that is about 40 meters or two full kite line lengths in typical wind. A trained reaction can release the kite in as quick as a quarter of a second but if you want the trained reaction to go off, you must practice it at least once a week.
Most kiters do not have a trained quick release muscle memory action and will thus require at least 2 full line lengths from any hard object downwind.
You ask someone who has been in an accident "Why didn't you use your quick release?" the answer is always the same "It all happened much faster than I thought it would. There was no time to use the QR."
"Practice is great but it's rarely a saviour"
The only reason practice doesn't save lives is being 99% of all kiters use the quick release only "when they need to" that is once in a lifetime. I absolutely believe it would be a life saver if everyone practiced it at least once a week. Better yet, practice the QR every single time you kite. A memory muscle reflex goes off without conscious thought. You hit the QR without thought, and it is only afterwards you figure out why you did it.
Last edited by edt on Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Accidents will happen irregardless of how prepared we are but I see soooooooo many people taking unnecessary risks all the time. I hope they learn sooner then later so here are a few tips which I use to reduce my chance of accident.
1. when launching and landing one hand on the quick release and one hand on the bar. If you cannot control your kite this way then you need to practice more period.
2. If something goes wrong, punch out before you see the result. basically shoot and ask question later, you might only get one chance
3. give yourself at least two line lengths from hard objects at all times
4. leash to the front of your harness unless you are handle passing there is no reason to have it on the back
5. test your quick release before each and every session, you will be surprised how often it is stiff due to debris
6. keep your kite low until you are ready to go
and don't do anything they did in the Vietnam video.....