Who Has Right of Way?
Intimidated when you ride a crowded beach? Learn the kiteboarding rules for who has the right of way on the water.
In this weeks episode I’ll be going to my sisters bachelorette party in Las Vegas, then I’ll be making my way to interview my good friend Kara Mulder.
Kara is a kiteboarder, the author of the flight attendant life and a digital nomad like myself. She has some amazing insights behind the community to be found in kiteboarding and travel.
Before we get into the rules:
A quick reminder, like driving it's always your responsibility to avoid a collision, even if you have the right away. You can not take it. It must be given to you. Be cautious, know the rules but don’t assume the riders around you do. It's always better to be safer than sorry .
The rider on the starboard tack has the right of way. Starboard tack means your right hand is forward. When your left hand is forward that is port tack. There are somethings that will affect this, for example the a slower moving vessel will have the right of way regardless of tack. This can be sailboats, windsurfers or even slower kiteboarders. Keep this in mind and yield to them.
Downwind rider has the right of way. I have a few sailing terms for you to learn. Windward and leeward. Windward is the vessel closest to the source of wind, or upwind. Leeward is further away from the source of wind, or downwind. Now, the upwind rider must yield to the downwind rider so remember, the downwind rider has the right of way.
If you’re riding with people who might not be aware of the rules, you can signal your intentions to them with your kite. If you plan on riding upwind, keep your kite up high around noon. If you plan on going downwind, get that kite nice and low. Keep an eye on the other rider and follow in suit.
Yield to riders who have fallen or are body dragging for their board. They always have the right of way. It’s also important to note that beginners have the right of way by default. Always give new riders a wide berth and be respectful. If you're a new rider, take comfort in the fact that experienced riders are going to be able to spot you quite easily and will likely give you plenty of room to figure things out.
Riders leaving the beach will have right of way over riders who are tacking back in. Keep this in mind when your heading back to the beach. If you see someone heading out, tack back the other way and let them get on the water first.
Be cognizant of your surroundings before executing a maneuver such as a tack or a trick. Always look upwind and downwind of you first. Make sure you have about 50 meters clearance upwind and 100 meters downwind. Kite lines are around 24 meters long and you can cover that distance quite quickly.
What about wave riding? If you see a kiteboarder surfing a wave, they have the right of way. If there are multiple riders on the same wave, the rider closest to the crest or breaking point of the wave has the right of way. Be respectful and give them room. We’re very fortunate to be so mobile on the water with our kites. Give them room and find your break.
That covers it for the most part. Be respectful and most importantly have fun out there!