How to be an Independent Kiteboarder
Kiteboarding is essentially a solo sport. When you are kiting you are alone on your board and are in sole control of your craft. It is always better to have friend to help you launch and a buddy to ride with, but at the end of the day you are alone. To be alone means that you will ultimately need to be self-reliant. During your learning phase you will usually have the instructor to watch over you, make choices, give advice, and come to your rescue, Then later on when you are practicing on your own hopefully you have a loyal friend or partner that launches your kite, and then runs down the beach to catch you at the end of your run. You may even have boat support, or a dedicated board caddy. But sooner or later you will be in a situation where no one can help you but yourself. It is just you and your level of training.
So there are several essential skills that every kiter should know to ensure their independence, and safety. Here is the list of Core Skills that you need:
This means stopping by yourself, automatically as a reflex action. This sounds basic, but not everyone knows how to do this, and surprisingly (albeit horrifyingly) not all kites do this very well. The most basic safety skill is knowing how to stop the kites power in every situation. So that means that Autonomous stopping technique is a procedure that deals with several situations.
Can you stop your kite Completely?
Can you stop your kite Completely 100% Depower, without ditching the kite?
How do you do this? What is the exact procedure to do this on your gear exactly?
Don’t guess at this, you have to know this and be absolutely certain. You also need to be able to do this as a reflex action, and do it without looking. This is where safety training comes in. First it is good to have an overview of the techniques on generic gear. This is that basic training we receive in lessons, from your instructors. They include at least three steps to depower the kite in all situations.
Understand your Safety Systems:
Then you also need a thorough understanding of the particular gear you are using. This means that every time you borrow or rent or test a new kite You must first study the safety system. This often means reading the Gear manual, and talking to the gear rep or shop guys, or find a certified kiteboarding instructor who is well versed in that particular brand and model. There are many subtle variations and counter-intuitive idiosyncrasies among the different systems that must be understood. For example; It is useless to pull on a “push-away” release. Or Pull on a twist-release system. What is the correct sequence of releases? More importantly how do you set up the system form the beginning, and reset the releases to ensure that they release in an emergency? Then you need to practice using the releases, resetting them and using them in the correct sequence. Then you need to be able to do this while holding your breath and with your eyes shut.
Now you have stopped the kite, then what?
Now you need a self-landing, and self-exit strategy. What do you do when there is no one there to catch your kite when it is time to land? Maybe you did not make it back to the starting point and you are alone on a deserted stretch of beach. Maybe you are drifting towards some rocks and you need a way to get control of your kite and get yourself out of the water. This is where the self-landing and self-exit technique comes in handy.
Your instructor should have taught you the self-landing procedure. If you do not know what that means then you were probably never taught that. There are two main versions of the self-launching, the pro-version that requires a lot of skill/control/luck, and the foolproof version that anyone can do in any situation (with a proper safety system).
Self exit is getting you and your kite out of the water by yourself. Self Exit is a version for the Self rescue procedure. Self landing is only possible if you have a nice open section of beach where you can land the kite by yourself. Self lauding should be simple ad foolproof.
the self rescue procedure is a set of techniques that allows a kiteboarder to land their kite on the water, get safely to the kite and kite-sail back to shore using kite power. Most people do not do this at all well, or have no idea how to do this properly, Why? Usually a lack of training. The self rescue skill is the most under estimated and often overlooked skill. But at the end of the day, it is the most vital skill of all. It is the only life saving skill, and is the only skill that no kiteboarder should be without. Too often it is skipped in lessons or rushed, or glossed over. However proper training from a certified instructor should ensure that you have learned, mastered, and practiced this procedure to the point of reliable and confident execution. We cannot go into the exact technique here, but if you have any doubts to your ability to do a full self-rescue to get yourself back to shore, then it is time to get a proper lesson from a real instructor. Do not trust your life to a few quick tips from a buddy or a few lines written in a magazine, Go and get the proper training on this technique. Even if you can already ride upwind and jump, you still need to learn this skill. There is no way around this. Even if you have a full time dedicated boat escort you still need to have this skill. Because boats fail, and they cannot help you in all situations.
This skill is another component of the complete self-rescue
Procedure. Pack-down is knowing how (and when, and when not) to pack your gear in case you need to swim with it, or get aboard a rescue boat, etc. This procedure should be included in proper safety training, and is part of most kiteboarder certification courses.