Kitesurfing – Self-Rescue Course
Why learn Kitesurfing Self-Rescue
A Kitesurfing Self-Rescue is a critical skill in learning to become a fully independent kitesurfer
Unfortunately, during lessons, most instructors either completely skip this skill or only give you a brief demonstration in shallow waters. When you watch any tutorials on YouTube, Self-Rescues are always done in little to NO wind, which is completely unrealistic as this is not the conditions when you would be kitesurfing most of the time.
This 11 minutes video will teach you all the skills needed to perform deep water self-rescues in real conditions with a level of quality and detailed instructions you won't find anywhere else
Self-rescue is fundamental skill each kitesurfer needs to learn and practice regularly. Simply put, self-rescue is the ability to get yourself out of trouble by using your equipment at your advantage.
In this video we will focus on the most useful type of self-rescue which involves using your kite as a sail to get back to the shore. This is a called a basic self-rescue
When the conditions allows you to use your kite as a sail, we will show two different methods, the traditional one which involves wrapping your lines around the bar and another one which doesn’t involve wrapping any lines around the bar.
Kitesurfers can get in trouble for many different reasons. Some of the most common reasons leading to a self-rescue are inverted kites, where the kite rolls around itself after a crash
Or perhaps the wind is too light and you simply can’t relaunch your kite
Or your lines get tangled somehow and your kite is going out of control
If your kite is out of control or for any reason you simply can’t fly safely back to the shore you must initiate a self-rescue procedure
Every self-rescue must begin by activating the chicken loop quick release. Before attempting a self-rescue, it’s important you have a full understanding of how your safety system works as detailed in the previous safety systems video.
This should instantly deactivate all power from the kite, especially if you’re using a single front line safety system or a 5th line
Once your kite is flagged out you can begin the process of recovering your kite
Now start to climb the safety line hand over hand until you get to the bar. Make sure the bar has slid out to the stopper ball, which means it can’t go any further but is far enough to prevent the kite from powering up.
You now need to start wrapping the safety line around the bar. You can do this either horizontally or vertically around the bar. Once you are finished wrapping you need to secure this line using two half hitch knots.
Once your leash line is secure you need to start wrapping the lines around your bar ends. It can be difficult to find all the lines and gather them around the bar. You will also get some pull from the kite, and that pull will be greater the stronger the wind is. In moderate to strong winds it will take you at least a few minutes to wrap your lines, even with practice. The stronger the wind the more challenging this task will be and even with experience it will be very difficult to wrap the lines neatly in strong winds. Here it took an experienced instructor 4.5 minutes to get to the kite by using this method and wind was about 15 to 18 knots. Here is what is looks like in 25 knots.
Now that all lines are wrapped up, You now need to secure the wrapped lines around the bar, you can do this by doing a half hitch knot with all the lines or use the elastics on your bar ends. Once all lines are secured pull one front line all the way to the kite
Most of the time you will need to flip the kite over in order to create a sail. However, sometimes it may already be in the sailing position so in this case there is no need to flip it! Even if flipping the kite in deep water may seem like an easy task, there are some common mistakes to avoid
If you try to flip the kite from the center, it will be very difficult or impossible to do so, especially with a larger kite.
Another common mistake is to flip the kite too close to the wing tip, this will cause the kite to be very unstable and can easily slip out of your hands!
Another common mistake is to try to flip the wing tip into the wind instead of the leading edge. This won’t work.
The idea is to let the wind help you flip the kite. For this, you want to be somewhere between the center of your kite and the wing tip, the closer you are to the wing tip, the easier it will be to flip it, but the less stable the kite will be. You can flip the kite from either side as long as you lift the leading edge into the wind using a wide arm span
Now it’s time to use your kite as a sail to get back to the shore. The most efficient way to create a sail is to use your bridle line. Once you find your bridle go to the end of it where your line is connected and start to put tension on it to bend the kite over and create a ‘’C’’ shape with your kite. To get best results you will need to move back into your kite so you catch as much wind as possible into your sail.
A common mistake is to try and sail while being in the middle of your kite. This will create poor results as there is not enough surface area of your kite catching the wind.
Another mistake is to hop inside your kite, this can not only damage your kite but will put too much weight on in and will create too much drag due to the excess water accumulating inside.
If you overpull the bridle line, you will bend your kite too much and have a less efficient sail. Poorer sailing performances also happens when you use self-rescue handles which are available on some kites.
Lastly, you want to avoid creating a sail using the back line of your kite, this will not only give poor performance but will also make you sail downwind.
To get the best result you need to adjust the tension on the bridle, move back into your kite and use only your arm or armpit over the leading edge, leaving most of your body in the water and using it as a rudder. We recommend you practice a few self-rescues without the board first. Once you have more experience, If you have your board with you, you can use it to your advantage and create a more efficient rudder with it. This will make you sail faster back to shore and also make you lose less ground! Even without the board, you can create a rudder using your body and your arm
Once back to shallow water, stand up and let go of your bridle while holding onto your leading edge. Walk out of the water and secure your kite
Even with experience, it’s likely you won’t be able to wrap your lines neatly around the bar and your bar may look like this when you get out of the water.
We will now show you an alternative method which doesn’t involve wrapping any of your lines around the bar. Once the kite has completely flagged out, simply climb the safety line hand over hand until you get to the bar which has slid out to the stopper ball.
Once you get to the bar, don’t grab the bar, instead simply follow that same line above the bar and carry on pulling yourself to the kite rather than pulling the kite towards you. For this method to be safe and successful it’s important that you follow that safety line hand over hand all the way to the kite, ignoring all other lines. To minimize the risk of tangles, AVOID swimming or kicking your feet at all times. Using this method you can get to the kite safely in less than 30 seconds even in very strong winds.
You can now begin sailing as soon as you get to the kite. Again, avoid swimming and avoid kicking your feet and simply let the bar and lines trail behind you.
Once you get back to the shore and secure your kite, detach your safety leash and pull you bar downwind. If you didn’t swim or kick during the rescue, you will have minimal line tangle, which can be undone quickly.
If you don’t feel comfortable sailing in with your lines unwrapped, you can simply wrap your lines around the bar once you retrieve the kite. This method works well and is much quicker and easier than wrapping your lines to get to the kite.
Using a GPS device we compared the two self-rescue methods in 25 knot side-shore winds. It’s easy to see that the method of wrapping the lines takes much more time but it also quite difficult. Using the method which doesn’t involve wrapping the lines, it took half the time and half the distance to get back to the shore.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter which self-rescue you use to get yourself out of trouble, what really matters is that you are actually competent and confident in getting yourself out of trouble. Ideally you’d be practicing both methods in real conditions (windy and deep water) and see which ones works best for you depending on the situation and conditions. Keep in mind that self-rescue must be practiced in deep water and that a demonstration or practice in shallow water isn’t enough and doesn’t reflect a real life scenario in deep water. Wrapping lines may seem easy when you’re standing up or when done in very low winds, but in deep water and strong winds it can be very challenging, even for experienced kiters.