Post general kiteboarding discussion topics here!
This topic is once again being revisted. The discussion is whether it's beneficial for the safety of the public and the safety of the kiteboarders to have the launch moved up the beach a bit, and have the current area used for lessons only.
There are pro's and con's and strong opinions abound. Eliminating any contact with the public is paramount and to date, I've seen many kites go over the path, onto the road, up in the air over the light poles, onto the grounds of the apartments across the street, etc.
If the launch is moved up the beach a bit, runaway kites would find their way into the parking lot, but would have quite a ways to go before reaching the main road. It seems there may be more foot traffic on the section of path immediately adjacent to the shack than farther up the beach.
What are your feelings on it? What will be most effective in minimizing any contact with the public? What is ideal for the safety of the kiteboarders?
In my opinion splitting up into two separate kite locations would increase contact with the public, and only marginally increase kiter safety. I think refining the current scene would work wonders. I suggest/vote for the following:
For public safety I propose two big (3 foot diameter) bright yellow inflatable tubes (soft if you hit them, held down by sand) that go from the path down to the water on both the Southern and Northern ends of the launch - Magically adjustable so the tip is always in the water no matter what the tide. There would be the following silkscreened in plain view "For your own safety we ask that your please walk around the kite launch area.
For Kiter safety I vote for a series of buoys like Sherman demarcating the launch and get out Vs. ride areas.
I think people should strive to be more stackalicuous like Sherman.
I think people should bodydrag out considerable distance before getting up on the board, I see so many people beginner to advanced diving their kites right over everyone's head.
I like the current location because the Shack is a natural people blocker and the confined area leads to fast information disemmination, etiquette learning, my fish was this big storytelling, and general taking care of each otherness. Also I can hear the ice cream man at the end of my session which is paramount.
Just my opinions. -stef
Any change that gives kiters more space is an improvement. I think moving the main launch up the beach would help for the reasons mentioned and separating the lesson from the launch area would be good too.
What about windsurfers? I haven't kited there in years but I would think windsurfers would want to park close to where they launch because of their heavier boards and they have more gear in general.
My two concerns:
I recall the beach being more crowded upwind of the shack (on weekends?). People are going to pay their $5 on a weekend to park, and not march around looking for a spot to hang out, but walk directly to the beach.
If the current shack area is kept for school use only, and a second launch for the general public is created, that is twice the space that we'd have to contend for? I've tried to explain to someone that their two tents in the kite stacking area was a bad idea, and offered to help them move to a better location. They didn't want to move, and I didn't press the issue because it was their right.
We'd be taking up a lot of real estate, and sounds like a hard sell?
As many of you know, Jane and I do not kite, but we do spend a lot of my time helping to manage the kite launch area. While everyone may just think that safety is about the physical location of the launch (the shape of the beach, the proximity to the pathway/road, etc.) many other things go into keeping the launch/land area running smoothly.
Jane and I put up the signs & cones, constantly ask bystanders to move out of the launch/land area, ask (okay sometimes yell at) kiters to get their parked kites/lines out of the launch area, sometime even physically move a kite and lines that have been sitting in the middle of the launch area for hours without it's owner in site. We also direct our windsurfing renters/students to launch just upwind of the kite launch area. We constantly launch/land kites as we are often the first and last people on the beach. We try to keep an eye out for those staying close to shore and yell at them to body drag out further from the shore before attempting to get on their board. On highly windy, crowded days we put a "Wet Paint" sign on the bench located downwind of the launch area (Shhhh. Don't tell the park we do this).
Finally, we recognize almost every new kiter on the beach, introduce ourselves to them and inform them of the launch/land rules, the obsticles in the water, and point out the safety guidelines located on the back of the shack. Many new kiters approach us to ask questions and advice (and to borrow a screwdriver :-) We are either able to answer those questions or we introduce them to more experienced kiters who can help them out.
So, there may be plenty of pros for moving the launch upwind, but one thing is for sure. Jane and I won't be able to help assist in keeping the launch area safe because we have to be at the shack helping our customers.
The kiting community will need to have individual volunteers who aren't afraid to be the bad guy and who are willing to sacrifice thier time kiting to keep the public safe and other kiters organized. Someone will need to come early to the beach, grab the signs from us and set up the launch/land area. Others will need to take responsibility for managing kiters and the public by taking shifts being on the beach. As it stands now, only a small handful of kiters have courage and heart to help out in the effort (mostly LMG, Charlie, Silva and Bob). Most folks just want to show up and kite, so self organization will be key.
-Many families and public events happen further upwind. For example, the sand castle contest is this weekend and is designated upwind of the shack.
-Families congregate around Crab Cove. Now kites will be taking up even more of the beach.
-Once a year the hobbie cat races and CCK kayak events are set up in the upwind location
-Potentally more trees and concrete to land on. Jeremy launched himself into a tree. (However, this won't have happened if he launch in a launch zone where others would have noticed he was trying to put up a 16m on a 12m day).
-The emergency phone located on the shack has been used within seconds of an accident. As are our first aid supplies (ie. blanks for somene going into shock) You will now either need to get a cell phone or run to us for problems. Potentially losing minutes of precious time.
-More newbies body dragging through windsurfing renters/students from the shack, putting more of the public in danger on the water.
-Fewer kites in the road which means a higher probability of cars not getting hit or crashing.
-Few kites on the pathway by the shack where there is a lot of foot traffic.
All of this being said, public and kiter safety are the paramount. If you can figure out a better geographic location that protects the kiters and the public, then the location should be moved. However, keep in mind that someone "policing the area" is a key component of keeping everyone out of danger.
Even if the site does not get moved, this is still a great time for folks to step up and volunteer to keep even the current site safer! We'd be happy to host a bbq brainstorming sesson at the shack to assist with improving the current site or helping set up a volunteer safety committee for the new site.
-Rebecca from The Shack
Come get me if you don't feel comfortable pushing the issues of having the public move from the kite parking lot or the launch area. I'd be happy to help in the effort since I can put on an "Instructor" Rash Guard and say "I work here." It seems to work 99% of the time.
-Rebecca - The Shack
Will do, it was Labor Day, I don't think you were around...
The general consensus seems to be to leave it be. Works fine for me!
As many have mentioned, knowledge, skill, and self-policing will go a long way to prevent accidents and eliminate any contact with the public.
Setting up buoys, if feasible, would be a good idea.
Thanks for all your comments. Well said! I must admit, the idea of a new launch upwind sounded attractive, but after having read many people's input, maybe it's not such a good idea after all...