5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

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5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby andrewcarey44 » Wed May 01, 2013 11:10 pm

The reason why I want to share this experience with everyone is to maintain the safety of all the kiters here in Utah. As a relatively new kiter to this community I have always felt safe at the local spots and appreciate everyone's help and advice. However, today I witnessed something very disturbing. Jim and I had an amazing 10m session from about 3-5 pm. We both came off the water as the wind shifted to a NW direction causing some gusty conditions. We met Derek, an experienced kite and he was in the process of teaching a student. Derek, if you are on the forum I do not mean to bust your hump as we had a good conversation following the incident. However, I think it is necessary that we discuss these safety concerns so that we all can benefit. I am confident that if there was a serious incident at any of these awesome spots they could be shut down for kiting in the blink of an eye. I can't even imagine how disappointing that would be for everyone.

The incident went like this. The student was taken down to the edge of the water (with a helmet) and seemed to have a proper understanding of the basics of the kite. We later learned that he had some experience flying a trainer. It was an old Naish 10m C-kite which would have challenged even the most advanced kiter. Jim and I watched from the cars as the kite was controlled by the student and tossed (by the teacher) towards the water. It seemed that the kite was significantly downwind of where it should have been for launching. Before we knew it, the kite was in the air and shot up to the top of the wind window. The student struggled to keep his footing as the kite pulled him quickly towards the water. In the blink of an eye the kite turned to the right (west) and knocked the student off his feet dragging him about 15 feet on the ground. Tough kid, as I can barely walk those sharp rocks in booties. The kite's safety system miraculously deployed and the kite broke free. The kite slid downwind getting snagged on some debris on the beach. Surprisingly the student was not injured and got promptly to his feet. Jim and I were in awe that he walked away from this! We ran down to make sure he was ok. He said he was fine and they untangled the lines to launch again. Jim and I stopped them from doing so and we had a good chat about what just happened. Again Derek if you are on this forum I don't want to embarrass you but I think this incident needs to be discussed so we can prevent this from happening again. I still consider myself a "new" kiter and would love to hear what you all have to say.

Here are some things that I learned from this experience:

1. Lincoln beach is not an ideal place for beginners and is often difficult for us all!

The launch is difficult and can turn ugly quick as the buildings, cars, dumpsters, razor sharp rocks and fences cause extreme hazards in launching. I have seen many threads discussing the launch at Lincoln and about the dangers of launching between cars or on the grass behind the parking area. I know we are all stoked to get out on the water but we should really consider taking the kites down closer to the water to launch. Luckily the student was not between the pavilion and bathrooms. Also the kite was launched towards the water. However, for beginners a full water launch seems like the way to go and far out in the water as large rocks, shallow water and downwind sand bars still prove a hazardous launch area. Even though they were at the waters edge and launched towards the water, the kite still drug the student across the rocks. I know a concern is rusty nails and mattress springs in addition to the razor sharp rocks damaging the kite down below the road. I'm sure this has been a conversation had by many in the past but what can we do to improve this launch site? I know we would all love to see plush grass/sand down below the road but this may be dream. What other options are there? In my experience of progressing in the sport over the past year, Rush was my go-to spot all last spring. This area in my opinion is great for beginners in almost every way and I rode there over a dozen times before anywhere else in Utah. However, it doesn't mean the place is free of hazards.

2. Old kites, especially C kites are not for beginners. I have never flown one but what I have heard they are extremely difficult to fly. I have learned from many of you to double check and triple check my equipment before launching in strong wind.

3. Wear a helmet. I know Jim and I both discussed the importance of this following the incident. Luckily the student had a helmet as things would have been a lot worse without.

4. Positive communication. When launching, communication should be obvious for both parties prior to launching and a quick gameplan should be made between the two prior to launching. I know that I will now always have that conversation and discussion to make sure everyone is on the same page.

5. Triple check your equipment before launching. Check the entire setup multiple times and take your time. A few extra minutes could mean the difference. I am impressed by the kiters on this forum when I see them taking extended amounts time to prep for launch. You guys are great examples.

6. Watch out for other kiters. I know everyone in the community has been extremely accepting of me and other new kiters. I have had a blast riding with everyone and thank you for watching out for me. If you see someone who is new, help them out and don't be afraid to give them some direction or advice. This way we can help each other out and avoid a tragedy.

Again I am the first to admit that I am always learning and can always be a safer kiter. I was simply there when this happened and want to bring it everyone's attention. Lets do all we can to stop things like this from happening again. Most importantly I would hate to see someone get hurt or see kiting banned at one or more of the great spots. Please add your thoughts so that we can spread the word about safety. I told Jim today that we can easily get complacent and forget the basics that can really cause harm if forgotten or neglected. I love the saying, the most dangerous task is the one we have never done or the one we have done a million times. No matter if you are a new kiter or a salty veteran, we should all take this into consideration. I won't be able to attend the upcoming meeting but think this would be a great topic to discuss. Thanks again for everyone's input and for watching out for me.
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby Marty Lowe » Thu May 02, 2013 7:37 am

Sounds to me like they would have been better off out in the water launching, instead of on the shore.

The bottom line here is he is not a wise instructor.

Years ago all the kiters started in to land our kites because of the increasing lightning.
For some reason, he chose to send his student out at that time.
Oblivious to the surrounding conditions, we finally talked some sense into his student,
because the instructor wouldn't agree with us that lightning was an issue.
This happened before he had his accident, and head injury.
Most kiters that have been around a while have a similar story to tell involving this instructor.

I'm not sure there is anything we can do as a group except watch for another bad situation and intervene if needed.
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby Leo Chan » Thu May 02, 2013 8:24 am

The launch area in Lincoln Beach is bad for any experience level, especially when the wind comes with some west in it. When a gust comes through, it could loft the kite and drop the kite in a matter of seconds. No amount of training could prepare anyone for that. Parking the kite in the neutral zone could avoid the lofting. But the lull could drop the kite to the ground and then a gust could destroy/damage it. Launching from the water is the only safe way to go if it is gusty.

I think a helmet and an impact vast should be mandatory for beginners in that launch regardless of wind condition.

As for the said "instructor", it seems that this is not the first time he had committed such dangerous act. I think we should think about some action to prevent this from happening again. Having a new kiter taught by a bad instructor means we will have a bad kiter near us in the future. It is for both the good of the new kiter and the rest of us that we should discourage any future new kiters from being taught be said "instructor".
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby dougbenson » Thu May 02, 2013 11:01 pm

My stand point is this.....i would never have the balls to learn to kite on land/water knowing i would have to pay some dues due to the learning curve. we are fortunate enough to ride snow half the year....go get dragged on your face through soft forgiving snow across the flat lake to learn to kite....made sense to me....kiting is NAR pay respect.
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby DaveHubbel » Fri May 03, 2013 4:11 pm

I think your point was well made at "old Naish C Kite"
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby kay oppe » Fri May 03, 2013 9:43 pm

In the OBX, Hatteras, North Carolina... we have a great kite boarding commuity... most of the beginners are instructed on open waters with jet ski... is that an option here? So sorry to hear of the recent issue.. Things do happen with the kite release system, we did see this happen in Cape Hatteras one time an an elderly women visiting the beach for the day, caught the kite in the parking lot. She had no idea about the lines and could have been seriously hurt, it all turned out well. It seems to be the rare occasion and hope it is lesson learned.
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby bordy » Fri May 03, 2013 10:23 pm

There is and has been a teaching plan in place among, Most instructors how ever Derek has not been teaching in years and perhaps should not be? I saw him last night but was not in the mood to discuss this issue at the time.

I will insure you that we have a wonderful relationship with the county, who operates the beach. Both they and the state have insured us they understand a accident or incident is a personal issue not a collective kiteboard or sailors issue. We have worked very hard to prove the validity of kiting and they safety new gear provides.

Losing our launch is not a issue. But we need to address these issue with this instructor. Derrick is willing to listen I am sure. But based on the "word on the beach" I think Derrick's ability to provide a safe informant for his students is the issue we need to address. To protect his students? Correct?
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby andrewcarey44 » Sat May 04, 2013 4:29 pm

Good to know Billy! Thanks for maintaining that relationship and always looking out for the community. It was a very scary situation that could have ended a lot worse than it did. The scary part of the whole thing is that even as conditions worsened following the crash and untangling of lines, the instructor went to launch the student again. Conditions were full on 9m conditions at that time. Not the best situation to launch a 10 year old 10m Naish C kite with a student. We will watch for him and make sure these things don't happen again. I am sure its been discussed heavily in the past but is there anything we can do to improve the launch at lincoln? I know the water level is supposed to come up closer to the road but how sick would a couple tons of sand or some grass on the other side of the road be? Thats a long shot! maybe a rake or two through the dead grass next to the road can get rid of some of the nails and mattress springs so its a little easier on the kites.
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Re: 5/1 ULLB Safety Incident & Discussion

Postby Mark Johnson » Sat May 04, 2013 5:17 pm

I think that teaching could be safe at Lincoln if the teacher and student were to walk out heading east at the west end of Sal Padre. Then run out the lines and launch from there. This way they could be in knee deep water and it is much softer mud in this area. It would suck to walk that far but would also be a good lesson in what you might have to walk through if you get stuck with no wind. Also it would be a good area to stay away from most of riders.
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