Saturday, November 18, 2017

How to... self-rescue

Knowing how to self-rescue is importantKnowing how to self-rescue is a very useful technique to have. Imagine you’re kiting and suddenly a line breaks. Or maybe the wind unexpectedly drops and there is no way you can relaunch your kite. Or maybe there was an emergency and you had to let go off the quick release. These are all scenarios that can happen and the following self-rescue technique will help you get both yourself and your equipment safely back to shore.



When not to use the self-rescue technique
If the wind is too strong or you are stuck in the waves it’s better to just let go off the kite, and once you’re safely back on land see how you can recuperate your kite. Trying to use the self-rescue technique in these circumstances will be difficult and can be dangerous.

What to really look out for
The dangerous part about this technique are the lines. You really have to be careful that no body parts get stuck between the lines when you are rolling them up. Every kiter knows that lines are notorious for cutting and the last thing you want is a finger or a toe getting stuck between lines, which could easily be cut off clean if a gust powers up your kite for even a second.

Once you’re sure there is no way that you can relaunch your kite follow the following steps. If your board is nearby or still attached to your feet, put it back on your feet and use it as an anchor. Alternatively put it flat against your stomach. The pressure of pulling in the kite will keep the board in place. If you ride strapless, try and keep the board close to you in this same way.

1.    Let go of the bar.
1 - Let go off the bar
2.    Activate the quick release so that you’re only connected to the kite with your leash to the safety line. If you’ve let go off the quick release because there was an emergency you are already at this step. If your board is still close by keep it flat against your belly at this stage.
2 - Activate the quick release2A - Keep the board close to you by keeping it flat on to your belly

3.    Pull on the safety line until you get to the bar. Be sure to pull the line in hand over hand. Never wrap the line around your hand or any of your fingers.
3 - Pull in the safety line hand over hand3A - Never wrap the line around your hand3B - Never wrap the line around your finger either
4.    Once you got to the bar, roll the safety line on the bar until you’ve nearly reached the end of the line attached to your leash. Leave around 50cm (20 inches) before reaching the end of the line.
4 - Once you get to the bar tie two half hitch knots
5.    Use this end of the line to make two half hitch knots. The picture serie below shows how to make one half hitch knot. To make two, repeat the sequence a second time.
5A - how to tie two half hitch knots5B - how to tie two half hitch knots5C - how to tie two half hitch knots5D - how to tie two half hitch knots5E - how to tie two half hitch knots5F - how to tie two half hitch knots
6.    When you reach this stage and you still have your board close by, you can unhook your leash for a moment and put it through one of your straps before reattaching it. If you don’t have any straps find another point through which you can pass your leash.
6 - After you've secured the security line to the bar with the two half hitch knots you can slip your leash through a strap to attach your board
7.    Now, take all lines and start rolling them up on your bar. After every 4th turn make another half hitch knot.
7. Now wrap all your lines around the bar adding a half hitch knot after every fourth turn
8.    When you get to the kite, pull yourself onto it and take a rest.
8 - When you get to the kite get on it and rest for a while8A - When you get to the kite get on it and rest for a while
9.    Check which way you want to go and flip the kite into that direction. Open it, grab the bridles and place the kite in the wind to use it like sail.
9 - Check which way you want to go and flip the kite into that direction
10.    Let the kite drag you to the beach. You can put your board on the kite to minimize drag.
10 - Get on the kite and use the bridles to sail to safety. You can put your board on the kite to minimize drag

When you’ve arrived safely onto the beach and you have lost a piece of equipment, contact the safety guard. They are required by law to start a search and rescue if they find an abandoned kite on the ocean.


  • In 30+ knot winds, it’s easier to roll up the lines around one bar end (rather than end to end).  
  • Once back on the beach, keep your lines connected to the kite while untangling them. If the lines are badly tangled you may need to disconnect lines to thread them through though.
  • If during one of the steps you find that it’s impossible to continue, let go off the kite completely by deploying the safety release on your leash and use your board to swim in. Once on shore, find a way to recuperate your kite.


More information on Damien Dage:

Photos by Ole Lervag, copyright 2015


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