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Today was really gusty at 3rd. When I got there the wind was not very strong, so I rigged my 12m, launched, and it was very clear that I was overpowered (the wind changed after 20 mins), so I landed (thanks to the Helm instructor who helped me) and rigged my 9. But I decided to wait since the wind became very strong and kind of sketchy. While I was waiting, something happened aout 100m inland, I saw a kite on the ground upside down going downwind, and when I was walking there someone asked me to dial 911, and only then I realized that this kid (maybe 15yo) was on the ground in pain.
Essentially he was practicing with a 5m kite (I think), and he fell backwards after a gust, and with that he pulled on the bar and was launched 10-15ft in the air, fell and probably injured his back. He was with his father who was helping him. Paramedics came quickly and took him to the hospital.
The reason I am posting this is 2-fold:
1) I think we as a community need to be more proactive and come up and notify the person/people if you think there's a safety concern. I am not here to judge the kid or the father, as I don't know him or his skill level. Basically "if you see something, say something"...
2) With so many new people to kiting (myself included), we beginners should identify ourselves as beginners to others, so they can be especially mindful when asked to launch our kites. Maybe it's the small nudge to go a bit downwind that will prevent a bad launch. Or something wrong with the lines that may not be obvious. Also as beginners we need to try to recognize when conditions just aren't good, and come back another day, or at least wait. We're so eager to get going that we may not estimate (or realize) the risks right away. Today I felt I was overpowered on the 12, and I almost ignored it and went for it, but my gut kept telling me to stop and get my 9...so I followed my intuition. The priority should be safety, and after that having fun.
This is the first time I witnessed a serious kiting accident, and it really opened my eyes to how things can go bad very very quickly. I knew this from reading about these situations, but seeing it first-hand gives it a whole new meaning (especially as I am also a father, and this touched me).
Sorry for the long post, I just think that if by reaching out like this I can help prevent one accident it will be already worthwhile.
mcfly777 you hit the nail on the head with being proactive and ask for help.
Just two examples: last Tuesday in Alameda gusting over 30 there is clearly a noob wanting a launch with a 12M. Bunch of us just in the nick of time were able to prevent a guy from launching him. Someone should have already stopped this much earlier when he pumped up. I guess we all were too absorbed with getting onto the water ourselves (with7M nonetheless) and did not notice until it was almost too late. The guy launching him was either a noob too or should not have agreed to launch him because of wind strenght, wrong position AND kite size. The guy with the 12M kite got really mad that we shot him down and told me "this kite has a range of up to 27" How much is it blowing now ....You guys are crazy for not allowing me to go and stomped off.
2nd example: This guy with a 10Meter asks for a launch and says have patience with me this is only my 3rd time. We told him with the wind strenght (big guys on 7 all afternoon) it was probably not a good idea and he should leave it to kite another day. The guy was of course disapointed but very humble and thankful for the advise.
We all owe it to each other to look out and help prevent accidents and in our very own interest preserve the water access we have.
With the large crop of noobs this year that are just about getting released after their initial lessons, we need to look, observe and help. To the noobs, don't be shy we all have been there PLEASE ask and tell the guy launching you if you are a noob. If he is too, you might want to ask for someone with a bit experience just to further reduce the risk.
Go get some
I was coming out of the water as they were wheeling the boy off on a stretcher. Talked to his friends and they said he was relatively experienced but also very light. Apparently he was on a 5m on land and got lofted by a gust. They also said he was fully mobile after the accident and seemed like he was going to be ok. Fingers crossed.
It seems like it's been sketchier wind than usual this year (its also been awesome). Still, many days with some south in the wind; Lots of rising and falling wind at 3rd and Sherman. Up and down and unpredictable. Getting off the launch as fast as possible seems like a good policy, and practicing with anything less than a small trainer kite on land a bad policy, at least until we get back to a more predictable and steady NW wind pattern.
Agree wholeheartedly with the need for beginners to identify themselves when they are asking, or are asked, for a launch. This is really important, especially when the wind turns more offshore at 3rd and as newbies it's not always easy or intuitive to be in the right place to launch. We need to know what you know. Also, take your time and check your gear and your surrounding area before you put a kite up. As always slow and easy wins and stress and rushing will take you out sooner or later.
There is no reason to play with a water kite on land other than certified instructor giving lessons, especially on a day like today.
I saw that kid but I figured it was some sort of kite instruction situation since they were not in the launch area but down where the instructors give land lessons. While I was packing up, he got pulled pretty hard and his dad ran after him. He didn't bite the dirt that time - the accident occurred some time in the next 1/2 hour.
This is a tricky topic though. I've been warned several times at 3rd that my 12m kite is too big for the conditions only to be very happy that I chose correctly and the 9m would have been too small. Maybe I look lighter than I am? I was at Alameda on Tuesday and had a blast on my 9m but could have easily flown a 10m since I didn't use any depower the whole time. Was that beginner a little guy? No way I could have flown a 7m... At least not a Naish Park, anyway. (For reference I weigh around 185 lbs).
I was there and when the instructor I assumed, launched the 5m. He demonstrated solid mastery of the kite and confidence. I was packing up after being forced in by gusts with my 12m. I would have been out on my 10m but it is in the shop. Anyway, the kid looked like a real student. Helmet on and totally paying attention. I saw the kid get launched and it look like the Dad simply lost hold of his harness. A mistake of course. He got launched about 10 feet in the air, hit the ground on his shoulder, head and back - bounced and got drug about 14 feet. The kite stopped about 20 feet from the rocks and did not relaunch. A whole bunch of people descended on him quickly.
Those of us who have hundreds of hours in kiting under our belt sometimes forget how dangerous and crazy it is for Noobs....
BTW, no one could have prevented this. The Dad looked like a competent instructor an the kid looked like a student (he was wearing a Real T-shirt from OBX.) I thought nothing of it. The whole situation looked proper.
Moved from Hilton Head Island, SC to Bay Area
Slingshot Asylum 138
SS RPM 12m, 10m, 8m
Good comments above.
Unrelated but a safety tip for all of us as spots get more crowded: One thing I've started doing in crowded spots like Sherman and Alameda on busy days when launching is to look straight UP, overhead and behind me *before* I launch. Naturally you're looking at your lines and horizontally towards your kite, but it's not uncommon for someone to be flying their kite over you. Unless you look up and backwards, you're not going to see them.
Be safe out there, hope the boy from today is OK.
It takes only a moment for things to go wrong during the learning process. It takes only a moment for a kite to gain more energy than a person knows how to manage. The second a person looses control is when they should let go of the bar. It's a reaction that replaces the natural instinct to hang on until its over. Make sure you know how to let go, and when!
Last edited by Captain John on Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
So I arrived just after the paramedics were leaving and learned about the situation.
I busted out my 8m. After 10-15 minutes on the water I threw in the towel. Horrible wind and not worth it at all.
Packing up my kite there is a guy launching. He's too deep in the pocket. I yelled at him to go upwind. He comes further downwind. Launcher is getting beat on the head by the top of the kite. I yelled again not that way THAT WAY. With the slack in the lines his chicken loop came off.
Amazingly he continued to move downwind after fixing the loop. The launcher is nearly buried in kite now.
I went straight to him and asked if he was sure he wanted fly today. He says yes but I did not stop there. I continued to argue with him for at least 30 seconds and finally told him point blank he should not fly today, that the wind was horrible and someone already went to the hospital. He refused to listen to me, somehow got it together and walked upwind until his kite filled and launched.
Honestly, short of knifing his lines, I can't think what else I could have done. He was determined to go out. Had I been the launcher I would have refused to launch him but I was not.
Predictably he only made it 10 feet before overflying his kite, spooking himself. at this point I was yelling at him to land his kite. Thankfully he came to his senses and put the kite down - but honestly I don't think any of my insistence had any effect. He spooked himself and that was what did it.
Well, I'm all for vigilance, but what the hell. That guy was an excellent candidate for emergency #2 today.
Anyone got any bright ideas for how I could have done that one differently?
It's a little less extreme than "knife the lines" but could still start a fight if you just open up their deflate valve.
Hopefully the kid is okay and back at the bar soon. Sounds like I dodged a bullet not going to third yesterday, maybe this weekend will work out a lot better and stabilize a bit.
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