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I hope the alarmist headline got your attention. I've been speaking with the park supervisor at Crown Beach and she's getting a lot of complaints from the public about kiting. Mainly, there are complaints from folks further down wind. I asked her to write up a summary of the issues and that I would post them here and on ikitesurf when I get them.
I know that one of the issues is kites sweeping along the beach....please everyone body drag two line lengths and HELP TELL OTHERS to do the same.
This is just a heads up.
More to come... when I get the note from the park supervisor.
-Rebecca - Boardsports Shack
Most of us knew at the beginning that the lessons at Alameda could only last so long. It's a busy beach and without an instructor right next to the student or right there down wind at the beach where they come in, the public is in danger. And then you have the people who have graduated the lessons and are now out dragging downwind, trying to get on the board.
This won't last much longer. I believe the future of Alameda is going to involve certification for riders. Basically, you must be able to stay upwind on the board before you can kite there on your own. Deep water lessons are good b/c you don't have to worry about your student going downwind onto a crowded beach. It's already happend in other parts of the country.
It's just my opinion but I think most of our schools are going to have to use jet skis in the bay and delta. The complaints won't go away.
sometimes Gary Bronson...
the alameda problem has nothing directly to do with the schools. If they train they are around and most of the problems are solved. I think practically it will be hard to somehow check every rider for the certification. BTW what kind of certification would you propose? I never made an official thing as there was nothing than real nasty kites as I started.
Yeah, I've seen this issue where everyone want's to blame the schools. Schools can only be responsible for students while their students. Ultimately, people need to be resposible for themselves. Blame the schools, blame the wind, blame the government?
Common sense and consideration are what are going to keep this sport and the locations alive. We teach student on the beach and in the water right off the shore...not in the deep water and guess what? Our student know how to launch from the beach and get out into the water...Unfortunately, there are good and bad students and you can tell everyone to body drag out 2 line lengths, you can tell students not to walk up the beach with the kite in the air, you can tell students never to beach jump, you can tell them that it's irresponsible to kite without a helmet or to not launch until the public is out of the launch area....but guess what...people don't always listen. They get cocky and act irresponsibly and its thier fault. Short and sweet.
Other schools teachs in deep water and I see their students making as many mistakes as ours. In fact, because they launch in the water, their students are often unsure of launching on land and tend to make more mistakes on their first few launches. Whether schools teach in deep water or from the beach and body dragging out, you'l still find people screwing up. Ultimately, mess-ups have little or nothing to do with the schools and ultimately everything to do with individual resposibilty or just plane bad luck.
That being said, I once saw someone post, "if your not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." So, I want to hear more about how this certification would work so we can suggest it to the park. Moreover, if anyone wants to blame the schools, I'd invite you all to get your certification and teach for a school. If all of your student always do the right thing, then you can create a certification program for instructors to follow that will keep everyone safe.
Sorry for the rant, but we all need to come up with solution...real solutions....and offer them to the park and/or work on them as a community.
-Rebecca -Boardsports Shack
I think that overall Gabe is referring to the fact that Alameda is a training ground for new kiters and that along with that, with Alameda being a wholly-accessible family-oriented beach, comes potential problems of the sort described and that have been submitted to the park as complaints.
I can understand how the public at large might be leery, fearful or irritated of some of the activities that can commonly occur. It has been normal to see botched launches with kites sweeping across the window and tumbling, kites swooping down over the beach above people, kites going across the road, kites ending up at the apartment steps across the street; I've seen bar & lines caught on the light pole, and more.
How to solve the problem? I don't know; people need to learn somewhere and it is basically the safest place around to learn, all things considered. The main advantage to learning offshore is to access wind really. As soon as lessons are over, where will they practice then? Right back on the beach. In some areas, kiteboarding has been restricted during certain hours on weekend days, or holidays in the interest of coming up with a common solution or compromise that everyone can live with.
I do agree that some sort of certification program will be needed and implemented in the future. The sport's growing and is it does, the need to protect access and maintain safety increases too.
Regarding certification, an additional step might be to classify launches according to level of skill required or difficulty. They do it in river rafting and kayaking. Why not kiteboarding? One of my biggest concerns is people going to kite at places they may not have developed all the requisite skills for, which puts the sport as a whole at risk.
Volunteers acting as "Beach Guides" or "Beach Stewards" to answer questions and offer help would be a good start. In Southern California, they've been able to deal with this same issue and overturn a ban and have members of the kiting community in place actively working to keep the kiting public informed about what isn't cool to do on the beaches and what will threaten the sport. As far I know, it works so far.
There's no good model that I can think of for the certification/enforcement of kiteboarding. Scuba basically works on the model that people are going to rent most of their gear, and they can't rent without certification.
Public beaches often have lifeguards, and they have the authority to kick anyone off the beach or out of the water. Does Alameda have them? If so, you could approach the city and offer to train lifeguards in the basic concepts of KB, and give them the authority to check for certification, identify dangerous behavior, and ban kiters who routinely break the rules or require them to take a safety course. You could get them involved in deciding what skill level a kiter should reach before achieving certification, and then get the local shops to sign on. The whole thing would translate into more $ for shops and instructors, I'm sure.
My understanding about the SoCal problems were that the lifeguards were getting pissed off and pushing for bans; if there are beaches that worked out a better system, I'm sure they must have gotten the guards involved.
BTW, I've never kited at Alameda, and I've only been there once, so my comments may be completely out of line...
I think Bob is right. The beach is way to crowded with people on holidays. Eventually someone is going to really get hurt (Or worse ), and there will be no more Crown Beach Kiting.
I have to say, it would be nice if people would be smarter around the shore area and on the beach. Beginners need to practice out farther in the water.
Just my opinion!
Something that comes out in this story, which I have seen many many times, is that beginners don't go for the QR when the shit hits the fan.
I have no idea why. My sense (and I may be wrong) is that in teaching it is not emphasized enough that you should actually go for the QR on the slightest doubt, and also not practiced enough. I am thinking along the lines of diving lessons.
In things I did, using the safety is part of the training and you train until it is an instinct without thinking too much. It seems that this does not happen in kite boarding. I have seen so many people try to fly the kite when they should just throw the bar or use whatever safety they have.
Using the QR saved my a$$ more than once (though never on the water). I was so impressed with it, that I bought a newer model without much data, based mostly on the fact that it has the same safety system (flysurfer). I think the gear has something to do with your confidence on using the QR, but at the end of the day all kites have some form or another that kills the power, so the gear is hardly ever an excuse.
I don't think beginners that fly their kites for the first times even test their QR before going on the water. At least I havenít seen it done, which seems almost ridiculous. Every session I had on a mountain board I throw the bar to kill the kite at least once or twice in the beginning, just to refresh my memory and see how the kite depowers in the current wind conditions. On the water its not that simple because the launch areas are usually very tight, but still, using the QR the first time when you are actually in an emergency does not make much sense to me.
As for the beach, it seems that some kind of formal control is inevitable at some point in Alameda.
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