The great thing about the kiteboarding community is our openness, helpfulness and willingness to share ourselves with each other. We all want to be awesome, kind and safe – in the practice of our sport and in life. Here are my best tips to start and end each session with positivity and consideration. Follow these simple actions and your kiteboard launch will be smooth and safe.
1. Rig Downwind
This is a biggie, I put it first because in my mind it’s the most important. Rigging downwind keeps you safer. You can check the lines easier and minimize rigging mistakes. It’s also much more awesome for the person who will launch you. The likelihood of them getting bowled over because your kite is too far in the power window is significantly reduced.
2. Ask for help with your kiteboard launch once you’re attached
It’s so much more thoughtful to be completely ready before asking for help with your kiteboard launch. Run through your mental checklist: launch plan is set so you don’t get tied up with other people’s gear, board by the water, harness/helmet/vest on, downwind line check complete, leash/loop/stick attached. Walk up to your kite and NOW it’s time to ask someone for a launch. By doing all that beforehand you’ll be less likely to rush and a methodical pre-flight system will ensure fewer mishaps.
3. Ask people who aren’t actively rigging to help you
If you have the choice, leave other kiters who are rigging to their task. Not only does their pre-flight system go smoother when not disrupted but they also might be jonesing to get out on the water and less patient while launching you, potentially causing launching mistakes. You’re better off asking riders who are just chilling out or kiters who are de-rigging.
4. Even if you’re rushing to go out, take the time to lend a hand
Having made the above point I want to come back to the overarching point of this article: Be Awesome. Helping others on the beach is great karma and part of the special magic of the sport of kiteboarding. Always be on the lookout for people that need help with their kiteboard launch. It goes without saying, if you see someone in trouble (like way over-powered coming in for landing) you should drop everything and help them immediately.
5. Use clear hand signals when you want to land
Communicate early and often when you’re looking for someone to land your kite. I’ll start the signal (patting the top of my head) while I’m riding in, approaching the beach. Keeping my kite low, once I’m on the sand I gently guide the kite down, slowly. If you’re on the beach and need a land just throw out the hand signal and very quickly another kiter will be there to help you.
6. Immediately walk towards your kite when you land
This is a biggie for keeping you safe and making it easy on the kiter who’s landing you. As soon as they’ve got ahold of your kite go towards them quickly. Slack in the lines is what you want.
7. Keep your gear in a small area
Once your kite is parked and secured with sand go straight into winding your lines. Leaving them out on the beach is an unnecessary obstacle for kiters and a danger to kids, dogs, horses and grandma. While you’re at it, tidy up your gear: put your board under your kite and your harness on the kite. Leaving them strewn around the beach means they’ll get in peoples’ way.
And there you have it! 7 Simple things you can do today to be a better kiteboarding citizen and a safer practitioner of the best sport ever. What do you think about these tips? Is there something I’ve missed? Have you had good or bad experiences with launching and landing? Disagree with one of my ideas? Please let me know in the comments section or better yet come down to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic and tell us about it in person at our awesome kiteboarding school in paradise.