Over the years we have all seen those crazy guys jumping well over 20m high throwing unbelievable tricks, and now riders like Mike McDonald breaking world records jumping over 34m high, just amazing.
And we have also seen people kitesurfing and jumping into palm trees and cars on the shoreline, but, then is kitesurfing a dangerous sport, or are accidents an avoidable situation?
Let´s get on it.
The easy answer is, that kitesurfing is now a safe sport, and as with any sport, we have to take precautions and be aware of the risk involved in certain situations and know how to act when the time comes, and that´s why we always recommend taking lessons with certified schools and ensure you cover all safety steps such as the use of the quick release on the Chicken Loop, Self-Rescue, and Deep Water Recovery, which we teach during our kitesurf initiation and progression lessons at Pura Vida Mallorca.
It´s like learning how to jump off a plane, you just don´t do it on your own, you need to take a few lessons, and after an initiation course, you will be able to do it all alone.
And as with all sailing sports, there is international Right Of Way rules (ROW), to avoid collisions and ensure everyone is safe even when riding in a tight spot. If everyone follows these simple rules, then we are all collaborating for the well-being of the sport, here are some of those rules, by IKO (International Kitesurf Organization):
Have a quick look over the R.O.W rules and test yourself on them. The most important rule is to avoid collisions at all costs. However, here are my top five rules to help avoid any near misses in the first place.
Upwind kite Up, Downwind kite down (The golden rule).
Starboard tack has the right of way over port tack. Starboard tack means you are going to the right with your right hand and right foot first.
Give way to kitesurfers entering the water and trying to get away from the beach.
The rider surfing a wave has priority, give way to them.
No priority on land, please use common sense.
In addition to this, as the IKO already recommends, we always have to use common sense and be respectful to other beach users, and watercraft. Avoid getting too close to the shoreline, always keep at least 3 times the length of your lines (about 60-75 meters) from other riders and from the shoreline or any other hazardous areas.
Following all these rules and using common sense we can avoid 99% of accidents, which most times are caused for misconduct and lack of consciousness, and once again, please take lessons with a certified kitesurf instructor or a certified kitesurfing school.
See you on the water!