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Felt like I Nearly Drowned

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Beardytello
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Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby Beardytello » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:16 pm

I had a moment, not sure why I feel I need to share but maybe the experience will make someone not make silly mistakes.

I'm in Durban (South Africa) at the moment and I wanted to go for a kite, the surf here is big compared to where I'm from so it was a little daunting, but the most important thing was keeping the kite in the air in the surfzone...which is where things got real.

All gear was rented and I was flying a 2018 F-one Bandit 14m, had a load of power on the beach, felt more than enough to get me out safely....I set off, past the first set of breakers and a good distance from shore but the kite was struggling, I was getting up but then it was stalling badly, in hindsight it seemed to be when I needed power and pulled the bar it would stall, possibly oversheeting? I noticed the bar was older so I wondered if it wasn't set up correctly.

Anyway, something definitely wasn't right, the only other time I've felt like that is when I cocked up set up and had a tangled bridle, but I'm 99% sure the bridles were fine. it came down once and I relaunched but after that it just wanted to backstall constantly, until it finally did and wouldn't relaunch.

This then brought me to my situation, I was in a big surf zone with a downed kite and a TT, luckily I had a decent impact vest on but I was still struggling to get to shore, the kite was pulling cross-shore (ejected and on leash at this point) and the breakers were beating me up badly, despite being confident in my home territory with this sort of situation I panic swam frantically until I was literally spent, still in the breakers with nothing left in the tank, I think this was probably the first time I've felt completely helpless.

I chilled myself out a bit and concentrated on floating, timing waves and breathing when I could, then eventually I sort of bodysurfed in on the waves, culminating in me being unceremoniously dumped on the beach and dragged out by a guy I was with (he'd been trying to get me the whole time) I couldn't do anything but lie there like a shipwreck survivor.

That was pretty much it, I was in a weird place for a while after, there was a point when I felt in real trouble and I didn't like it!

Mistakes I think I made.
Tested the kite better on the beach, we always say get to the water as quickly as possible but if you need to get past surf make sure the kite flies.
I should have completely released the kite in the surf, it was hampering my progress.....but a strange part of my brain refused to do it.
Panic swimming - Don't Panic!

Sorry for the essay, made me feel a bit better writing it out.

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby Strekke » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:02 pm

Pounding waves with probably strong currents, and winds where you need to go out on a 14m sounds like a bad idea / not fun session to begin with. If the kite was backstalling like that, you were probably choking it by indeed pulling in the bar too much, and light winds make this even more likely. Next time your kite backstalls, just sheet out completely or even release the bar and let the kite shoot back up to 12.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and it seems you have learned your lesson - next time check the conditions and if it looks big with propbably a lot of current, make sure you are well powered on a 10m or so before heading out. And things could've ended worse: at least you didn't get eaten by the very common tiger or bull (or the occasional great white) in those waters :D

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby Toby » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:27 pm

Good to hear you are ok.

Yes, definitely test gear on the beach if trim is right.

Not 100% sure if I understand the correct situation...but why didn’t you swim to your kite and lay in it?

Once on the kite you can use the kite as sail to bring you back to shore...called self rescuing which everyone should know.

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby kite_hh » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:30 pm

Toby wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:27 pm
Not 100% sure if I understand the correct situation...but why didn’t you swim to your kite and lay in it?
Without big surf I would also suggest that. However, the surf can make a difference. Swimming towards your kite entails a huge risk of being caught up in the lines. Even if it is only staying attached to wind them up for self rescue. Staying attached to your Kite can also easily mean a ripped kite.

Depending on the conditions your best bet may be to completely detach from the kite and use your power to swim to shore with the waves.

Hard to say without seeing the situation/conditions. It seems you made some right decisions, since you got out of the water alive. How did the kite hold up? Could you make out anything wrong with it once you were back at the beach?

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby edt » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:48 pm

In surf you can't swim towards your kite. You need to eject immediately otherwise the kite will yank you hard when the waves catch it, either the leash will pull the attachment right off the kite or something on the harness will break. It's different if you are out in the rollers. No matter what the situation is when you are swimming, gotta conserve energy. Lesson learned and no harm, get out there and hit those waves again! As for the kite set up, heck that can happen to anyone.
Last edited by edt on Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby Beardytello » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:52 pm

kite_hh wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:30 pm
Toby wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:27 pm
Not 100% sure if I understand the correct situation...but why didn’t you swim to your kite and lay in it?
Without big surf I would also suggest that. However, the surf can make a difference. Swimming towards your kite entails a huge risk of being caught up in the lines. Even if it is only staying attached to wind them up for self rescue. Staying attached to your Kite can also easily mean a ripped kite.

Depending on the conditions your best bet may be to completely detach from the kite and use your power to swim to shore with the waves.

Hard to say without seeing the situation/conditions. It seems you made some right decisions, since you got out of the water alive. How did the kite hold up? Could you make out anything wrong with it once you were back at the beach?
Yes, I've self rescued many a time, it just didn't seem doable in those conditions, I was fighting to stay afloat / swim in, wrapping my lines up wouldn't have been doable where I was...or I panicked and should have done this right away, by the time I was tired it was too late...I can't say for sure which.

The kite survived thankfully, I managed to return all the gear unscathed which I was impressed with, although I think I took a risk not ejecting everything and making a swim for it earlier, funny what your mind does in stress situations.

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby Beardytello » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:54 pm

edt wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:48 pm
In surf you can't swim towards your kite. You need to eject immediately otherwise the kite will yank you hard when the waves catch it, either the leash will pull the attachment right off the kite or something on the harness will break. It's different if you are out in the rollers. No matter what the situation is when you are swimming, gotta conserve energy. Lesson learned and no harm, get out there and hit those waves again! As for the kite set up, heck that can happen to anyone.
I need to work on my swimming / spend some time in the surf without the gear too. I'm sure it wasn't as bad as I thought but panic made things 100 x worse!

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby Toby » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:00 pm

Do you have pictures of that day?

How far from shore is the surf?

How high where the waves?

Where you in the surf when the kite didn’t relaunch?

I agree, when the kite is in the surf stay away.

If not, swim to it to have a floating device and wind the lines.

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Beardytello
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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby Beardytello » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:11 pm

Toby wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:00 pm
Do you have pictures of that day?

How far from shore is the surf?

How high where the waves?

Where you in the surf when the kite didn’t relaunch?

I agree, when the kite is in the surf stay away.

If not, swim to it to have a floating device and wind the lines.
No pictures no.

The surf was weird it was like a big section multiple break points going in different directions, it was a mess!

Yes, I had drifted into the worst of the surf zone trying to relaunch.

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Re: Felt like I Nearly Drowned

Postby K-Roy » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:12 pm

hard to explain the feeling in a situation when you and your kite is getting washing machined by two different waves simultaneously in powerful surf...

IMO.
release kite to safety if beyond relaunch.
(the next few minutes will be easier on you and your kite)
if you get in the lines get ready to release completely if need be.
try to stay focused, especially with breading, shit happens fast in powerful surf.
life west is a good idea!
(it easy to loose orientation when getting rolled underwater and panic can hinder your judgement, here the extra flotation will help)

glad you are ok.

cheers


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