Lesson Learned from 2 kite entanglement at Sherman

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This forum is for new kiters/beginners to share info and experiences and to get answers to kiting questions. All questions are valid. Please provide proper answers (no sarcasm/joke replies, etc.) as we'd like to avoid any confusion or misinformation.

Lesson Learned from 2 kite entanglement at Sherman

Postby tulley » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:21 pm

So what happens when 2 kites get tangled up? What should you do and what can you learn from my beat down in said situation?

I’m a beginner/novice, ~15 days of staying up wind, working on staying up wind on toeside. I wanted to relate my point of view and lessons learned from my first real beat down. First I want to thank the folks who helped out, Paul, Kurt, likely several others? I know everyone has beat downs and it is the camaraderie of this sport that keeps so many of us coming back!

It was the weekend of Nat’s birthday/party at Sherman island. Saturday afternoon about 3-4pm. There were people everywhere. I launched and got upwind out of the chaos. I was well upwind of the second small island and was now finding enough space to feel comfortable. Still making my way upwind, I transitioned directions and out of the corner of my eye I saw a kiter upwind of me mid-jump, he missed the landing and it was shocking how fast he came 100-150ft downwind. I angled downwind quickly but his momentum was substantial and his lines crossed mine (~ midway between kite and kiter for each of us). We were stable for a few seconds and about 20 ft apart in the water, I had my board, he did not. 20 ft seemed like a short distance, so I tell him I’m going to swim downwind to free the 2 kites, he should try to get upwind. About 3-5 seconds later, one of the kites powers up (likely based on the lines crossing) and I get drug into a tangle. It goes from bad to worse in a hurry… As I get drug further into this mess, it is very clear that untangling is now a subpar option. We both pull our quick releases. I still have my safety line attached. Other bro is (or becomes) completely free. However, based on being drug into the tangle of lines, the tangle is now in and around my harness. My safety release does nothing. My kite is luckily nose down in the water and stable. However, his kite decides to go kamikaze. it begins a vicious cycle of powering up, pulling hard to one side, crashing back to the water. On my end, this means, drug through the water for 30-50 ft, get lifted up in the air 3-6 ft, and get dunked back in the water – rinse and repeat. Luckily, we are upwind quite a ways and I’m pretty comfortable in the water. I know I have to make it out before we reach land or it will get really ugly. All my quick releases pulled and no relief, I yearn for a knife that I don’t have… oh, safety gear is priceless when you need it! Well, about one cycle into the kamikaze kite power up and drag me through the water and then dunk me under, it is clear that being drug face first through the water will probably drown me. So I focus on turning my back to the force of the water (facing upwind) – this creates a pocket of air as I’m being drug through the water, so I can at least breathe until I get dunked into the water. I now know that my only way out of this situation is to get out of my harness before I hit land. As a beginner, I have seat harness and getting it loose and off was no easy process during the drag, lift and dunk cycles. After 6-10 cycles, I get the waist portion of the seat harness somewhat loose but being a seat harness, it is good at accomplishing its goal of keeping me upright. During a dunk, I take a risk and flip upside down and manage to push the harness off. Sputtering and beaten, I swim the remaining 50 yards to shore where kind souls are helping divert traffic and recover gear – basically right at the launch spot. A very scary experience and I’m am grateful it is over. Black and blue bruising from bar/harness and bird nest of lines was a small price to pay… I’m grateful to those that helped and were ready to jump into full rescue mode.

My lessons learned:
1. Avoid dangerous situations/conditions. Beginners avoid the chaos of busy days (downwinders are a decent option). Experienced riders assume that others are not and give a wide berth. Look for signs. Are others doing tricks OR are they wearing a helmet and using a go-jo (I’m not ashamed to be the later – great signal I always think…)?
2. Always be conscious of those around you. Skilled or not. Downwind and up. Share the burden of etiquette.
3. 2 tangled kites are a nightmare -- get out fast. When lines cross, based on my experience, you should get the hell out of the situation before it gets worse. Pull quick releases (all of them, cut lines, whatever…. Gear is gear)
4. Always know when and how you are going get out of your gear. Depower, quick release, safety, harness, etc.
5. Have the right safety gear. Have a knife or two. It would be easy to drop one when you need it.
6. Learn your lessons and get back out there. I got back out again this weekend and it felt great. Embarrassingly, I still don’t have a knife, where can you put the darn things for quick access? Thoughts welcomed.

This is just my point of view and I’m sure if I’d been more experienced, I could have completely avoided this situation. I know that the person that I got tangled up with had no malice or ill intent – and I have none toward him. Sh!t happens. I’m posting this in an attempt to learn from more experienced riders (please feel free to tell me my mistakes), and to potentially help others who might avoid a similar situation. If you were there that day at least you know what happened to the yahoo…
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Re: Lesson Learned from 2 kite entanglement at Sherman

Postby metabon » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:39 am

Very scary.

Earlier this season, a few of us tested various knives, scissors and hook knives on some old lines. My personal experience is that hook knives are effective on single lines that are under tension, but not very useful when you're dealing with a tangle of loose lines.

I carry this knife now: http://www.amazon.com/Innovative-Floati ... 003JPLSZO/ - it cuts through lines very easily, has a blunt tip and can be opened with one hand. It also floats and costs under $10. Unfortunately it's not available on Amazon anymore, but you might find it elsewhere.
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Re: Lesson Learned from 2 kite entanglement at Sherman

Postby super_monkey » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:51 am

That is a shitty situation to be in and I don't think there are things you can specifically do to fair better from one time to the next. I would think that remaining calm is probably the best thing you can do to assess the situation and find the best course of action as each time will be different. For example, I had a guy that same weekend tangle lines with mine at the shore launch and instead of keeping his cool, he immediately pulled his release when all we would have to do is nicely land our kites. His kite got holes and I had to fumble with his lines and bar with my kite in the air.
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Re: Lesson Learned from 2 kite entanglement at Sherman

Postby windstoked » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:28 pm

Amazing recovery from a Death Loop!
Thank God you survived and thanks for sharing your experience so others may learn.
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