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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