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Old 09-10-2004, 03:36 PM
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Default Kitesurfing Safety Information Year 2002 - Vers. 12_17_02

Kitesurfing Safety Information Year 2002 - Vers. 12_17_02

TERMS OF USE: Access to and use of this information is restricted. This resource is intended for the reading and private use by KITEBOARDERS ONLY to improve safety. Use by other parties for any other purpose or reproduction of portions or the entirety of this copyrighted document by ANY PARTY, is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given by the owner. In proceeding below to review this document, the user fully agrees to comply with these restrictions.

This collection of reported but largely unconfirmed kiteboarding accidents and incidents has been prepared with the goal of improving kiteboarding safety. It is intended to spread the lessons learned from these accounts. The accuracy of most of these accounts is not verified and as such they should not be considered so. Ideally, the reader should view these accounts as describing potential credible scenarios that could lead to injury. The rider should gather ideas and perspective on how to avoid similar accidents and incidents. Kiteboarding is a new and rapidly growing sport. Safety concepts and knowledge are still being learned and spread. It is a goal of this resource to aid that process where possible.
It is important to put the frequency of these reported accident and incident accounts in perspective. These few dozen reported incidents generally represent the extremes in this sport. They do not represent the perceived normal rider experience. All accounts over a three year period. Estimates vary, but in that three years roughly ten million or more hours may have been spent by riders kiteboarding worldwide. Surveys are in progress but for now this is a rough estimate. The vast majority of these hours are perceived as having been free from serious incidents or injury. These scenarios represent incidents that reportedly happened to a minority of riders and should not be taken as "normal" by any means. Similar statistics for verified bicycle, aircraft or automobile accidents would be vastly more shocking in terms of the high numbers of victims per year and dramatic injuries worldwide. This resource has been prepared to raise the state of awareness and to avoid accidents. The point is that these reported accidents and incidents could potentially occur to any rider in conditions similar to those described. As such, kiteboarding should be viewed as a potentially dangerous, extreme sport that deserves careful training, practice, preparation and judgment to be safely enjoyed. With the expansion of knowledge, use of appropriate caution and adoption of better safety and riding procedures these risks should be reduced substantially. We are all still learning about this sport and the hazards that may be out there.
Often the difference between a safe kiteboarding session or an injurious one is prior knowledge, appropriate safety gear, practice of procedures to avoid problems and careful, informed judgment. This resource is intended for the downloading, reading and private use of kiteboarders only. Use by other parties for any other purpose is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given. This document is protected by copyright and reproduction of this document or portions thereof is prohibited without prior written approval of the owner.
Kiteboarding when undertaken in a responsible, informed fashion with proper professional training and preparation may be safer than other popular sports such as hang gliding, off-piste skiing, mixed gas scuba diving and many other pursuits. The preparation of this collection of stories is to improve common knowledge, awareness of threats to safety and questionable riding practices. The following examples will hopefully illustrate the potential costs of poor practices and judgment.
I want to express sincere thanks to Brett Gibson, founder of the Mid-Atlantic Kitesurfing Association, for proof reading and helping to revise this document. Also, I want to thank all the riders that have provided input that resulted in the creation of this resource. Constructive comments, suggestions, alternative views, credible eyewitness and particularly participant account information are always welcome and should be emailed to

Table Of Contents Page
Introduction .................................................. ............................... 2
Table of Contents .................................................. ..................... 3
Organization .................................................. ............................. 4
Disclaimer .................................................. ................................. 4
Correlation of Accident/Incident Circumstances ......................... 5
New Accounts and Additional Information .................................. 5
Kiteboarding Account Summaries
Year 2002 (Accounts 19 - 72) ...................................... 7
Year 2001 (Accounts 6- 18) .................................. Separate File
Year 2000 (Accounts 1 - 5) ................................... Separate File

The accounts are divided into four sections, including:
General Information
This section provides an account number, date of the account, reported date of incident and location information. When possible, other reports of the account were sought and/or received from others. The number of these other reports is listed in this section. If information was received directly from the participant, it is noted in this section as well. Finally, if the information is described by a published internet account, the URL will be provided if it is known.
This section provides details that have been related without embellishment or comment. Despite attempts to verify the accounts, they should not be assumed to be verified. However, they may represent realistic but potentially hypothetical object lessons or scenarios for kiteboarders. Remembered and second party accounts may have errors and as such should not be assumed to be verified or necessarily to depict actual occurrences.
Lessons Learned
This section provides opinion regarding potential improved safety practices for kiteboarding derived from the experience related in the account. These “Lessons” may alter with time as new knowledge is gained and distributed in the sport. When new credible practices become known, they may be incorporated in updated versions of the accounts.
This section provides opinions and specific observations based on the reported account. These comments are intended to discuss relationship to other incidents, trends, general precautions or other relevant topics.
The account summaries listed in this resource may not be 100% accurate. Although accuracy is intended, it is not guaranteed in any fashion. No responsibility is assumed whatsoever for any errors, omissions, conclusions or consequences thereof. Attempts have been made in some cases to verify the accounts, but none of the account details should be considered to be confirmed or fully accurate by the information contained herein. Kiteboarding may potentially be practiced with reasonable safety with thorough training, current good practices, safety gear and by employing good judgment. This sport can be very dangerous if it is not approached with the level of care described. The same conclusion could apply to operating a car, bicycle or boat if the same lack of care as described was employed in these activities. These reports represent reported information and related opinions and are not intended to represent positions or opinions held by any organization or group. Other valid conclusions and procedures may be drawn from the information contained in this resource and will likely be drawn in the future as kiteboarding knowledge and safety technique is better understood. Participants are generally not identified by name, unless this identity is common knowledge or release is given. The goal of this resource is to impart lessons learned from the reported experiences of these individuals or likely scenarios and not to unduly embarrass or criticize the kiterboarders.
It is regretted that they have reportedly gone through these experiences. Sincere thanks are extended to them for helping to improve the safety of this sport with their accounts.
This resource is intended for the downloading, reading and private use of kiteboarders only. Use by other parties for any other purpose is strictly prohibited unless prior written release to do so is given. This document is protected by copyright and reproduction of this document or portions thereof is prohibited without prior written approval.
Correlation of Accident/Incident Circumstances To Specific Accounts
(Being updated 11-17-02)
A. Use of a good helmet may have reduced chance of injuries in account #'s:
25,27,28,29,29b,30,31,32,34,34a,37,38,39a,39b,41,4 2,48,49,

B. High winds were involved in account #'s:
1,1a,5,9,11,12,13,15,16,16a,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,2 5,

C. Lofting occurred in account #'s:
1,1a,4,5,7,8,9,11,12,15,17,18,19,20,25,28,29,30,32 ,37,39a,41,42,

D. Rider was upwind of nearby hard objects in account #'s:

E. Onshore winds were present in account #'s:

F. Unstable weather was present in account #'s:

G. Inability to unhook from the chicken loop figured in account #'s: 4,6a,11,15,37,39a,42,48,

H. Board leash use figured in account #'s:

I. Injuries are known to have been reduced by helmet use in account #'s: 4,15,19,24a,35,39a

J. Proper preflighting could have helped to avoid accidents in account #'s:

K. Self launch or improper assisted launch/landing contributed to accounts #'s:

L. Glove use may have helped in account #'s: 2,3,29a

M. Proper kite leash function could have helped in account #'s: 42,42a,48,

Kiteboarding Account Summaries
Year 2002

72. Incident # "Second French Kiteboarding Fatality " Location: France
Date: December 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


A new kiteboarder was out with a 14.3 m Takoon Scoup kite. He could stay upwind but was still working on basic kiteboarding skills. When he initially setup the wind was quite light and side shore in direction. Squall or storm clouds were in the area and some other kiteboarders warned him that it might not be safe to go out on the water and that he should be careful. He kiteboarded for about 1/2 hour and then returned to the beach as the wind had grown up to 25 kts. with approaching black squall clouds. There had been about ten other kiteboarders out but they had landed their kites prior to this time. The kiteboarder had come ashore some distance away from the other kiteboarders and too far away for someone to catch his kite. He was seen to be lowering his kite to near the ground when a 40 kt. gust hit. He was lofted to 6 m off the ground and flown inland. He hit ground and was then dragged. He eventually hit a wall after traveling an approximate 200 m horizontal distance. It is unknown whether or not he tried to activate his quick release. He was not wearing a helmet. The rider died from injuries suffered upon impact.

Lessons learned

1. Don't ride with unstable or squally weather in the area.
2. Regularly mentally and physically rehearse anti-lofting techniques and other emergency procedures. This will allow you to frequent test your safety gear and to potentially reduce your reaction time in managing an emergency.
3. If there is ANY doubt about being able to land your kite BEFORE weather conditions seriously deteriorate, depower your kite while still offshore and away from hard objects. Be prepared to swim in towing your kite.
4. Unhook or disconnect your chicken loop and hold your bar if you may be potentially hit by an excessively strong gust so that your kite leash will be readily activated.
5. DO NOT RELY exclusively on others to help you land your kite and better ready at all times to release your bar. This requires the routine maintanance of an adequate buffer area downwind.
5. Always wear appropriate safety gear including a good, well fitting helmet, impact vest, gloves, whistle, hook knife, etc..
6. Always listen and carefully consider the advice of other riders. If in doubt, don't go kiteboarding.
7. Consider launching and landing "unhooked" or not connected to your control bar.


This was yet another sad avoidable accident if the rider both knew and appreciated the hazard of riding near squalls. Unfortunately, though obvious upon careful reflection too few kiteboarders either know or more critically appreciate this hazard, today.
This situation is improving but it is likely that there will be more accidents and incidents before the threat is more universally anticipated and appreciated. Ignoring the advice of other riders has contributed to at least two fatalities and many lesser accidents. It is important that the mechanical attachment to the chicken loop be regularly maintained and tested to improve the chance for proper performance during an emergency. Active kite beaches should institute and squall warning signal, say three fast blasts on an air horn and perhaps a red flag. Riders should be aware of the meaning of these signals. Anytime squalls are in the area riders are at a higher level of risk and such conditions should be avoided. If you see a hazard moving in, prepare in ADVANCE to manage the situation, while you still can. Releasing the potential power of the kite while still well away from hard objects is KEY. This rider was dragged about 200 m or roughly 650 ft. How close do you want to be to shore before reacting given the distance that you can RAPIDLY cover in a strong gust.
Fatality, Warned, Squall, Lofted, Failed to Release, Limited Experience, No Helmet, Solo, Nearshore

71. Incident # "Overconfidence Injures Rider " Location: Wellington Point, Brisbane, Australia
Date: Dec. 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


A tourist with little kiteboarding experience visiting from another country, chose to ignore the advice of local riders and launched in excessively gusty conditions well beyond the operating wind range for his kite. He had ignored similar advice on the previous day about similar extreme wind conditions. Winds were offshore 10 to 35 kts and extremely gusty as it passed over a number of hills upwind. The rider was going to go out on a Slingshot 12 Torque. The rider was lofted inland from the beach, went over two power lines and hit the second story of a building. His kite lines knocked out the power to the area. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The story was picked up by the international media.

Lessons learned

1. Always ride in conditions suitable for both your ability and for your equipment.
2. ALL new riders should secure adequate professional kiteboarding lessons.
3. Always check the windspeed and see what other riders have been using in terms of gear before selecting and launching your kite.
4. Avoid excessively gusty winds.
5. Listen to the advice of more experienced riders.
6. If you have an unsafe rider confront him with several of your friends in an attempt to keep him from injuring himself, possibly others and putting your access at risk. It isn't convenient but neither are riding bans.
7. Lots of other conclusions can be reached regarding this incident but the most obvious cause is that the rider had NO IDEA what he was launching in and stupidly chose to ignore the advice of more experienced local riders.


This foolish rider could have easily killed himself in the highly avoidable accident. Needlessly knocking out power to many residents only brings undesired negative attention to the sport. Retailers should insist on seeing proof of training or link training to new gear purchases. There should be little opportunity for such a poorly trained and unaware individual to blunder into such an accident. If you are selling used gear privately you have a similar responsibility to screen the potential purchaser for appropriate experience. If you ignore this responsibility you may well be working to lose access and potentially contribute to the injury of the buyer.

Additional information:
Serious Injury, Warned, Squall, Lofted, Failed to Release, Limited Experience, No Helmet, Overconfidence, Excessive Conditions For Gear and Experience, Nearshore

70. Incident # "Jumping Close to Shore, Fractures Leg" Location: Sunset Beach, California, USA Date: December 8, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 1


Winds were onshore 15 to 20 mph and gusty. A rider of unspecified experience was seen to come nearshore and to launch a jump off of the crest of a wave. This was observed by two experienced kiteboarders who were surprised at how close to shore this rider had elected to launch a jump. A gust came along and boosted the kiteboarder up another ten feet to approximately 30 ft. off the water. The rider drifted rapidly over the land in the onshore wind. He kicked off his board just before attempting to land on his feet. The rider had dropped his kite downwind into the center of the power zone significantly powering up the kite again. The rider fell on his side and was dragged over the beach an unspecified distance. One of the experienced riders ran over to see if the kiteboarder was ok. The other experienced kiteboarder, who still had his own kite in the air ran down to try to catch the riders kite. The kiteboarder that had been dragged was not using a kite leash. The one observer managed to secure the dragged kiteboarder's kite. The injured kiteboarder has suffered a computated fracture in one leg. That is the bone was sticking out through his leg and was bleeding. Soon there were many people present attempting to help the injured kiteboarder.

Lessons learned

1. Don't jump within two kite line lengths of shore and preferably further from shore. In strong onshore winds keeping a even larger buffer zone would be advisable.

2. Always use a properly configured, maintained and tested kite leash.

3. Ride with friends and keep an eye on each other.

4. Wear safety equipment including a good, well fitted helmet, impact vest, gloves, knife(s) and kite leash.

5. Consider avoiding onshore winds or if you have adequate experience, ride with extra caution.

6. Be polite and considerate to bystanders and other kiteboarders routinely. You attitude may avoid problems and even encourage help when you might need it.


This rider suffered a readily avoidable accident through pure carelessness. Anytime a rider is airborne his jump may be extended by a gust. Jumping nearshore should be avoided otherwise someday the odds are that things may go wrong. There weren't many bystanders on the beach on this cold afternoon. If there had been a bystander injury may have occurred. Kiteboarders need to be aware and responsible.

Serious Injury, Onshore Gusty Winds, No Buffer Zone, No Leash, Failed to Release, Overconfidence, Solo, Nearshore

69. Incident # "Poor Preflighting Drags Rider" Location: Puerto Rico
Date: November 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 1


A kiteboarder had just launched his kite and was violently dragged inland, lofted through a tree and then into a car parking lot. Apparently he had attached his lines incorrectly and didn't adequately preflight his gear. He had multiple quick release systems but was unsuccessful in releasing the kite. Winds were gusty and onshore. It is not known what degree of injury the rider suffered.

Lessons learned

1. All kiteboarders need to carefully preflight their gear. In stronger wind preflighting several times wouldn't be a bad idea.
2. Use a properly rigged, tested and maintained kite leash.
3. Wear safety equipment including a good, well fitted helmet, impact vest, gloves, knife(s) and kite leash.
4. Be particularly cautious in onshore winds especially higher winds.
5. Consider rigging "polar line attachments" or those that can be attached in only one way ideally.


The observer that reported this incident thought he was watching someone get killed. The speed and violence of an out of control powered up kite is astonishing. These types of accidents are normally avoidable. The outcome once a kiteboarder has been dragged into such an occurrence is often uncertain. Quick releases and kite depowering leashes are not fully reliable at this time. The only sensible course is to use good procedures and judgment to avoid being placed into the emergency in the first place.

Poor Preflighting, Crossed Lines, Onshore Gusty Winds, Failed to Release, Lofted, Nearshore

68. Incident # "Italian Kiteboarding Fatality" Location: Ostia/Rome, Italy Date: November 24, 2002 Participant account included:No Number of independent accounts: 2


An experienced kiteboarder had just launched an Airblast 6.3 m kite. The wind was 15 to 20 kts. gusting to 30 kts. The observer was about 100 m away but dealing with the same strong gust and was looking in another direction at the time of the accident. The rider was lofted and dragged into a pole inland from the beach. The rider was hooked in and it is unknown whether he tried to unhook or not but he did release his kite after impact. The rider suffered a fractured leg, arm, pelvis, ribs, lung perforation and severe concussion. The rider was talking just after the accident but soon entered into a coma. He died approximately two hours later in hospital.

The observer was also lofted by the same gust but in the direction of the water. He ended up breaking a harness line. This same rider had fractured ribs in an unrelated accident early this year during the summer in similar gusty wind conditions.

Lessons learned

1. Avoid, unstable excessively gusty weather.
3. Utilize anti-lofting techniques routinely.
4. Use a properly rigged, tested and maintained kite leash.
5. Wear safety equipment including a good, well fitted helmet, impact vest, gloves, knife(s) and kite leash.
6. Avoid onshore wind conditions particularly stronger and gusty wind conditions.
7. Do not launch within two kite line lengths of downwind hard objects.
8. Consider launching and landing "unhooked" or not connected to your control bar.


Launching in excessively gusty, onshore winds can be hazardous. Many riders ignore some of the precautions listed in the Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines and common sense. Often luck carries the day without incident. When things go wrong the safe latitude allowed by good practice can make the difference in a close brush or a serious accident. Care is needed to avoid such accidents as skill and safety devices may not be up to keeping the rider safe if things go wrong. If a squall is approaching and you aren't CERTAIN that you can make it to shore well in advance, depower your kite while you are still offshore AWAY FROM AHRD OBJECTS! DO NOT wait until someone can catch your kite as it may well be too late to avoid a serious lofting or dragging. Just because a kite is small, say an 9 m kite, don't assume that it can be very powerful and can cause injury.

Fatality, Gusty Onshore Winds, Unstable Weather, Lofted, Failed to Release, No Helmet, Solo, Nearshore

67. Incident # "Severe Board Leash Injury" Location: Swan River, Australia
Date: November 2002 Participant account included: 1 Number of independent accounts: 0


An experienced rider was out in gusty conditions with a board leash. At one point he was dragged at speed and the board slingshotted into his face. The fin lacerated the riders throat. Also he had several teeth broken and was bleeding profusely. He was rushed to the hospital by bystanders. He was in poor condition due to blood loss and related trauma at the emergency room. He was treated and is in the process of healing.

Lessons learned

1. The use of fixed kite leashes can be hazardous.
2. The majority of riders should develop strong proficiency in body dragging which is normally quite easy in conveying the rider back to his board.
3. There is no assurance that a rebounding board will hit a helmet or even be stopped by one.


Use of kite leashes have caused many serious head injuries including several that resulted even though a helmet had been worn. Board leashes may have contributed to one and perhaps even two kiteboarder fatalities. Static leashes have a high injury potential based upon the accident experience. Reel leashes may have a lesser tendency to rebound but injuries even utilizing reel leashes have been reported. All riders should master body dragging early on. In practice it is normally quite easy and effective. If concerns exist about runaway boards striking bathers in the surf zone, it would make sense to find another riding area. Temporary use of a reel leash is practiced by some riders when body dragging or when both hands are needed. The leash is disconnected before resuming normal riding.

Serious Injury, Board Leash, Gusty Winds

66. Incident # 11 02 3 "Belgium Kiteboarding Fatality " Location: Zeebruges, Belgium
Date: November 11, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 5


A new kiteboarder but long time windsurfer was out in an new area in side shore winds shifting between 14-22 knots much of the day but at the time of the accident it was only 12-16 knots late in the afternoon. Apparently the rider had been advised to take lessons but as there was a waiting list he decided to try to learn on his own. The water temperature was quite cold at 9-12 degrees Celsius. There were about 20 kiteboarders out in the area at this time. There is a large harbor wall bordering the launch that was paralleled by a strong current on this day. The rider was using an Aero 10 or 12 without a shackle or Quick Release but was wearing a helmet, impact vest, gloves, knife and whistle. He was using a Wipika 175 cm board with a board leash. The actual details of the accident are unknown at this time. His kite was seen to be on the water then flying then back on the water in a relatively short interval. He was later dragged ashore by his kite near the harbor wall and found unconscious and without a pulse. Other kiteboarders responded immediately with first aid. He was in a deep coma but some evidence of brain activity was present for several days. He eventually passed away in hospital. He was found to have a bruise around his right ankle the attachment point of the board leash and a small cerebral hematoma under the occuput (a small blood clot in the brain at the back of the head, above the neck).
The kiteboarder was a physician as is a friend of his who also kiteboards. The other physician proposed the following sequence of events. The kiteboarder lost his board, dragged underwater and recoiled striking the rider at the back of the neck and beneath his helmet. The hematoma and the bruising in the area of the kite leash support this conclusion. The rider was knocked unconscious and was apparently lying face down in the water and drowned. It was estimated that the rider was in apnea (the absence of spontaneous breathing) for at least one half hour. If not for the cold water temperature, is highly unlikely that a drowning victim could be reanimated after one half hour of not breathing. Other such cases of cold water drowning and reanimation exist. His injuries were substantial enough as to block recovery unfortunately.

Lessons learned

The following conclusions are based upon the information described above. As in the case of many KSI accounts, all the facts of an accident may never be known. The circumstances described above are plausible and could have happened. In the absence of supplemental or contrary information, that is the story upon which the analysis is made.

1. Kiteboard leashes based on the many injuries listed in the KSI and elsewhere pose far greater risk than benefit to riders and ideally should not be used.
2. All kiteboarders should seek adequate professional lessons.
3. Serious accidents can happen even in lighter winds.
4. Always kiteboard with one or more friends and keep an eye on one another.
5. Helmets should not be worn to protect against recoiling board impact as they may not. They should be worn to protect against lofting or dragging impact against hard objects.
6. If this rider didn't have appropriate safety gear on, specifically his impact vest he may not have made it to shore in time to be rescued.
7. All kiteboarders should use minimum safety gear including a good helmet, impact vest, quick release (QR) chicken loop attachment, a tested kite leash, hook knife(s), gloves and a whistle.


Other new kiteboarders have been injured and even killed during early experimentation while trying to learn kiteboarding on their own. Some of their stories appear in the KSI. Kiteboarding can appear to be deceptively easy but in fact can be quite complex and demanding in ways that are not directly obvious to new and even some experienced kiteboarders. Training and careful development of experience are key to safe kiteboarding in the long term. Always kiteboard with others and ride within your abilities even if it is not particularly convenient. Misfortune can arise all too easily on occasion and may not be successfully overcome.

The abundance of kiteboard leash injuries build a strong case against the use of leashes. A reel leash could be worn and used on a TEMPORARY basis as needed. While the leash is in use particular caution should be employed. Body dragging to recovery your board is relatively easy to do. I feel that kiteboarding instructors should work on developing this skill after regular body dragging and even before board water starting instruction. You may lose board if you don't use a leash however it is far less likely that your board will hit you hard enough to do serious harm, although of course it is still possible in waves. Helmets should be worn by all kiteboarders to protect against dragging or lofting impacts. Wearing them as a counter for board leash impact is not well advised as the board may hit an area not protected by the helmet as may have happened in this sad accident.

Fatal, Board Leash, Limited Experience, Solo,

65. Incident # 11 02 2 "Brazilian Kiteboarder Fatality " Location: Conceicao Lake, Florianopolis, Brazil
Date: November 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


A kiteboarder was hit and killed by a motor boat. The operator of the boat may have been intoxicated. It is not known if the kiteboarder was underway or in the water at the time of the collision. No other details are available at this time.

Lessons learned

It is difficult to describe lessons learned in the absence of additional information. Accordingly, some general precautions involving kiteboarding in and around motor boats follow.

1. Don't kiteboard in areas with abundant powerboat traffic. Making a speeding powerboat aware of your presence if they don't notice you on your own may not be feasible and collision likely as a consequence.
2. Always carry a whistle and try to signal boats well before they come into your area if you are in the water. Given engine noise this may not be feasible but it should be attempted all the same.
3. If your kite is on the water and you think a boat might run over your lines, consider detaching completely from your control bar and holding your kite leash attachment. Release the kite leash just before the boat passes over your lines and swim well clear of your lines.
4. Avoid being attached to your kite or potentially tangle by your lines if a boat runs over your lines at ALL COSTS.


It is requested that any additional information regarding this accident be forwarded by email.

Fatal, Boat Collision, Solo

64. Incident # 11 00 1 "Rider Fatality In Texas" Location: Corpus Christi,TX, USA

Date: November 1, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of
independent accounts: 6


The following reported information has been assembled from various personal accounts and articles. As with any KSI account, accuracy is intended but cannot be assured given natural limitations of recall, relative observations and the limitation of facts that may be never known.

Peter Nordby, a very experienced kiteboarding instructor, windsurfer and
Olympics class sailor of many years had gone down to the shore for a short kiteboarding session. He launched in the Pachery Channel area of Corpus Christi, Texas on November 1, 2002. The winds were onshore 13 mph gusting to 35 mph with Peter flying a 6 m unidentified four line inflatable kite. It has been stated that onshore winds are relatively rare at this launch with side shore to side onshore conditions being more common. Also, meteorologic and lunar tides along with excessive rainfall had resulted in substantially higher water levels than normal with the edge of the water being much further up the shoreline than normal. So instead of having the more usual 300 ft. width between the edge of the water and the parking area barrier there was about 50 ft. or less. The parking
area barrier consists of low steel or timber poles interlinked by steel cable. The bottom in this area is very slippery. Peter had a reputation for being safety conscious and cautious. He was also in the habit of generally using smaller kites than other riders. He didn't believe in using snap shackles so he was hooked into the chicken loop but was not using a quick release. Peter was using an impact vest but not a helmet.

Peter had just launched and had made two tacks placing him about 50 to 75 ft. offshore. He sudden fell over during a turn, perhaps during a strong gust and landed on his stomach. The kite was low and aimed downwind towards shore. Peter was dragged very rapidly towards shore and up the beach in a very short period of time. It is not known if he attempted to unhook but it was suggested that he may not have had time to react and try to unhook. He struck one of the parking barrier poles face first at high speed. A call was made to 911 and Med Evac helicopter airlifted Peter to the hospital. Peter was later pronounced as deceased.

Lessons learned

1. Onshore winds and particularly high, gusty winds have a higher rate of
kiteboarding injury regardless of skill.

2. Launching upwind within 100 to 200 ft. of hard objects can commit the
rider to serious injury if things go wrong regardless of skill.

3. Choosing to ride in less than optimal conditions reduces the factor of
safety or allowance for the safe management of misfortune or error
and may result in accidents and incidents.


Peter was an accomplished, skillful kiteboarder, instructor and sailor of long experience. Peter was well liked and respected and his loss and contributions will be missed by the kiteboarding community.

In choosing to ride in less than ideal conditions, onshore high gusting winds at a launch with unusual adverse conditions, high water, a much narrower beach than normal with nearby hard objects, the factor of safety to tolerate or compensate for misfortune will be greatly reduced. In hindsight, launching at Pachery Channel under these adverse conditions was ill advised even for a highly skilled kiteboarder. Of course many such sessions could be completed by highly skilled and even less capable riders without serious incident in similar conditions. The probability of having a serious accident or incident merely goes up in such cases. When misfortune comes in one of these sessions however; the rider's ability to
cope may be seriously compromised by the adverse conditions. Serious
accidents sometimes seem to be the culmination of a series of small choices and in some cases errors that when combined overwhelm the ability of a rider to safely manage through.

The same conclusions could apply in choosing to undertake many sports, hang gliding, diving, off trail skiing, mountain climbing, etc. under marginal, intense conditions. Lastly, riders should always use minimum safety gear including a good helmet, impact vest, a reliable chicken loop quick release, a tested kite depowering leash, gloves and a whistle. These aids may not help in some circumstances, perhaps not even in Peter’s case. In many other cases these aids have already spared or reduced injury and may continue to do so in the future for those that choose to use them.

There is reason to believe that if the Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines had been adhered to that many of the serious accidents evaluated to date in the KSI may have been avoided or minimized. The Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines have been derived from accidents such as Peter’s and many others. These guidelines may modify riding style in some cases but they may help to aid safer kiteboarding with a lower probability of serious accidents and incidents.

Kiteboarding is a potentially dangerous extreme sport and there will be accidents regardless of what safety procedures and guidelines may be adhered to. In the absence of following such guidelines and procedures it can only be assumed that the quantity of avoidable accidents will be greater. Riders will always make choices in this and in other extreme sports. Some choices will have a more serious weight than others.
Related information:,

Fatal, Very Experienced, Gusty Onshore Winds, Solo, No QR, No Helmet, Nearshore

63. Incident # 10 02 3 "Rigging Error Launches Rider" Location: Conneticut, USA
Date:October 25, 2002 Participant account included:No Number of independent accounts: 1


An experienced rider insisted on having an assisted launch in .overpowered conditions with a North 9 m kite in 30+ kt. winds. The assistant was reluctant to release the kite as "it didn't feel right." The assistant continued to hold the tip of the kite despite demands to launch from the kiteboarder and two bystanders. The assistant sent someone over to hold the kiteboarder's harness. The kite was then released and shot straight up and over into the powerzone. The tremendous force yanked the shackled bar out of the riders hands and pulled the trim strap through the bar and actually broke the bar. The kite then flew free from the rider who was uninjued. A bystander caught the whole thing on video. The kiteboarder had reversed the attachment of the lines to the left side of the kite.

Lessons learned

1. If riders launch in substantially overpowered conditions they should do so accepting that they could be more readily injured or even killed than under more normal conditions.
2. All kiteboarders should carefully preflight their gear. Riders going out in winds 20 mph or greater would be well served to do 2 or 3 careful preflight checks.
3. It is fortunate that this rider chose to have an assisted launch.


Once again, a story about a rider in denial about the true risks and being excessively careless. The sad thing is that many riders can successfully follow highly marginal practices and get away with it much of the time, perhaps. These successes can build false confidence that may fail a rider someday. In theory the rider's kitebar should not have broken under the load of this incident. If it had not it is likely that the rider could have been seriously injured or even killed. Even the person holding the riders harness could have sustained an injury. Good judgment is the best, most effective safety provision that we have. If we choose not to use it the consequences in the long term will often be serious and regrettable.

Gusty Winds, Warned, Overconfidence, Hooked In, Excessive Conditions For Gear, Nearshore

62. Incident # 10 02 2 "Squall Injures Rider, Again II " Location: Atlantic Beach, FL, USA
Date: 10/13/02 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


It was late in the day and a light squall had just passed over ten minutes early. There were squall clouds visible inland of the launch area. An experienced kiteboarder was out with an approximate 16 m Wipika four line inflatable kite in overpowered conditions. Another rider didn't launch because of the questionable conditions. While the rider was out the wind shifted suddenly to onshore. The rider kicked off his board but remained hooked in. The rider lost control of his kite and sent it over into the power window and was either lofted or dragged into the sand dunes.
Kiteboarding physician and EMT were present onshore and rendered first aid. The kiteboarder was airlifted out to the hospital by helicopter. The rider reportedly suffered head injuries, stayed in the hospital for two days then was released.

Lessons learned

1. Kiteboarders must avoid squalls at all costs.
2. Kiteboarders should always practice anti-lofting technique.
3. Always use minimum safety gear including a good helmet, impact vest, quick release (QR) chicken loop attachment, a tested kite leash, hook knife(s), gloves and a whistle.
4. Rehearse dealing with emergency situations both mentally and physically to reduce reaction and response time. An early high priority should be to activate your tested kite leash.
5. Depower your kite sooner than later even if it is less convenient. Later, you may not have time.


Kiteboarders need to avoid squalls and until they do there will be more avoidable accidents. Late reactions can be as costly as choosing to expose yourself to unstable weather conditions in the first place.

Serious Injury, Gusty Onshore Winds, Squall, Lofted, Failed to Release, No Helmet, Nearshore

61. Incident # 10 02 1 " Nambian Kiteboarder Fatality " Location: Walvis Bay, Nambia
Date: 10-12-02 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


A kiteboarder was out in 18 kt. gusting to 25 kts. with a 12 m North Rhino four line inflatable kite. He was overpowered at time of launch but managed to control it. As he entered the water he lost his board. He was subsequently dragged downwind towards a wall. His girlfriend was waiting downwind of the rider with the intent of catching his kite.
He was standing a couple of meters upwind of the wall when a gust lifted him and slammed him against the wall. He was subsequently dragged over the road and a distance of 60 m. By a newpaper account he was stated to have tried to disconnect from the chicken loop but could not.
The rider was rushed to the hospital and after a short time he was declared as deceased from head injuries. The rider was hooked in and was not using a helmet.

Lessons learned

1. Pick your kite size carefully for both actual and predicted conditions. If wind starts to build it may be better to land it early as opposed to waiting for a more convenient location.
2. Always use minimum safety gear including a good helmet, impact vest, quick release (QR) chicken loop attachment, a tested kite leash, hook knife(s), gloves and a whistle.
3. Practice anti-lofting techniques at all times. (see
4. Never place yourself upwind within 20 to preferably 60 m or more upwind of hard objects. Avoid placing yourself into such situations even if you must land your kite on the water.


Better hazard awareness and safety technique would have likely avoided this fatality. Kites are so very powerful and things can deteriorate into a severe situation very rapidly. The best response is often an early one, well before things can continue to deteriorate. Wearing basic safety gear can compensate for some errors in judgment sometimes. Being upwind of a hard object in conditions like this is setting the table for a grim outcome with little recourse if things go wrong.

Further Information

Fatality, Gusty Onshore Winds, Lofted, Failed to Release, No Helmet, Nearshore

60. Incident # 9 02 7 "Squall Injures Rider, Again" Location: Pompano, FL, USA
Date:9/29/02 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 3


A new kiteboarder was out with an approximate Naish 23 m four line inflatable kite. He was flying over one half mile south of a group of other kiteboarders to the north. Squalls were in the area but many of the riders were ignoring them. One rider had to be grabbed while onshore as he was being lofted as one more squall moved into shore. The single rider to the south had been out trying to get some of the increased wind from the squall as it moved closer to shore. He succeeded in getting more and to the point of being overpowered. He worked into shore and then was lofted several times in succession, being "teabagged" across the beach until he went out of sight behind a building. The riders to the north later learned that there had been a serious accident.

From various reports it was concluded that the rider was lofted up into a tree where he hit and then fell from a substantial height, hitting his head on impact with the pavement. The rider was taken to the hospital. He was not wearing a helmet, impact vest or QR. It is presumed that the rider attempted to unhook but could not. The rider entered into a coma and is rumored to have come out of it after several weeks. This is still being attempted to be confirmed.

Lessons learned

1. Kiteboarders must avoid squalls at all costs.
2. Kiteboarders should always practice anti-lofting technique.
3. Always use minimum safety gear including a good helmet, impact vest, quick release (QR) chicken loop attachment, a tested kite leash, hook knife(s), gloves and a whistle.
4. Rehearse dealing with emergency situations both mentally and physically to reduce reaction and response time. An early high priority should be to activate your tested kite leash.
5. Depower your kite sooner than later even if it is less convenient. Later, you may not have time.
6. Take adequate lessons to improve the odds of avoiding serious injury
7. Kiteboard with others. Talk about weather issues and how to deal with them. Some popular launches have even come up with a Squall Warning. The warning is something like several repetitions of three fast blasts on an airhorn and in some cases the hosting of a pair of square red flags as well. Riders should never be out with squalls nearby as they can strike too quickly for proper reaction. Until time and hard experience cement this conclusion in the kiteboarding community, a warning system is better than none at all.


Riders seem to routinely ignore squalls and the danger and violent power that can come with them. Accidents including particularly spectacular ones have occurred over the last couple of years but apparently the word is still not getting out. Kiteboarders love wind and particularly when wind is light much of the time as was the case in this accident, kiteboarders intentionally put themselves at risk of injury. Many riders are not aware of this hazard while still others don't take it seriously enough. People trying to learn on their own are only more vulnerable. The term "cannon fodder" comes to mind in describing riders that expose themselves to such conditions out of ignorance. Please talk about weather issues with your friends and at local launches. Weather planning and awareness are key aspects of safe kiteboarding and too many riders are not aware of this yet or do not take the risk seriously yet. With time, there should be enough serious injury stories out among riders to overcome this ignorance and indifference. Until then there will be more such avoidable accidents until a critical mass of accounts and stories are in circulation.

59. Incident # 9 02 6 "New Kiter Lofted By Gusts " Location: Lake Grapevine, Texas, USA
Date: Sept. 18, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 1


A new kiteboarder rigged up with an unidentified kite in a very gusty onshore wind day. He had an assisted launch but reportedly too far off the wind into the power zone. As a consequence he was lofted about 6 ft. high and 20 ft. horizontally to impact into a parking lot railing. He suffered a broken femur on one leg and a broken ankle on the other. Neither the kiter or his helper had kiteboarding lessons and had previously only been out in light winds.

Lessons learned

1. Take adequate, professional kiteboarding lessons.
2. Avoid onshore winds and particularly if you are a new kiteboarder.
3. Always launch your kite at the correct position off the wind relative to the wind speed and kite size. That is if you are in the center of the power range for a given kite size launch at 90 degrees off the wind. If you are underpowered launch at bit further off the wind perhaps at 100 to 110 degrees. If you are near the upper limit of the power range for a kite, select a smaller kite or launch a bit less than 90 degrees off the wind.
4. Always wear suitable safety equipment.
5. Never launch upwind and close to (within a hundred feet and preferably further) hard objects.
6. Always be ready to deal with the unexpected, particularly in higher winds.


The violent power of kiteboarding kites should not be underestimated.
The potential to injure and even kill particularly in the hands of poorly trained kiteboarders should not be ignored. If you see riders that appear to need some good advice please offer it in the most tactful, effective way that you can manage.

58. Incident #9 02 5 "Serious Dragging In Moderate Wind " Location: Cornwall, England, UK Date: September 13, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 1


A moderately experienced kiteboarder was out in 15 mph winds gusting to 19 mph with a 14 m Flexifoil Storm kite. He was wearing a flotation vest. The rider lost control of his kite and was dragged onshore due to a relatively low speed gust a distance of about 100 m. He was dragged into a major highway and was avoided by a speeding motorist. The motorist observed the rider dragged into an impact with a steel barrier, was then lofted 20 ft. into the air before landing in a shallow lagoon on the other side of the barrier. Bystanders were able to pin the rider down at this point and release his kite which was on the ground at this point. An ambulance and the police were called to deal with the accident. It is not known what injuries the rider sustained.

Lessons learned

1. Always practice anti-lofting techniques including keeping your kite low and to seaward when near shore. Get away from the shore without delay. Land your kite if coming into shore without delay.
2. Always wear safety gear including at a minimum a good, well fitting helmet, impact vest, gloves, hook knife, whistle, etc.
3. Mentally and physically rehearse depowering your kite in emergencies.
4. Carefully test and maintain your chicken loop release mechanism on a regular basis.
5. When near shore consider staying unhooked from your chicken loop to aid ease and reliability of kite release and depowering.
6. Avoid launches near roadways and other obstructions.


The exact cause of this accident isn't known. The winds were not particularly extreme however adequate to cause a serious accident potentially involving bystanders. Good technique near shore and hard objects is critical. Also proper technique to avoid lofting, dragging and rapid defusing of the situation if it occurs is vital. Kiteboarding can be much more complicated than it first may appear.

57. Incident # 9 02 4 "Serious Finger Injury " Location: Islip, NY, USA
Date: Sept. 13, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 1


A rider of intermediate skill of two years experience was out in 22 to 25 mph onshore winds reportedly with an Naish ARX 11 m four line kite. The accident was not observed by has been pieced together from various reports. The rider dropped his bar to depower the kite and somehow caught his finger in the line. At the same time the kite powered up, dragged the rider across the beach and tore some of the flesh and bone from his finger. He returned to the beach and was observed from a distance to be stowing his gear. An ambulance arrived and took him away. His little finger was amputated as a consequence of the extensive tissue damage.

Lessons learned

1. Test and properly maintain your kite leashes.
2. Wear gloves while kiteboarding.
3. If you release your bar to activate your depowering system make sure you do so cleanly and well away from your body.


It is not clear how exactly this rider tangled his fingers in his lines. It could have impaired the complete depowering of the kite leaving his finger to carry the full load of the kite. Unusual accidents will sometimes happen. It is important to be methodical and careful while kiteboarding to try to reduce the chances of injury.

56. Incident # 9 02 3 "Squall Injures Kiteboarder " Location: IJmuiden, Netherlands Date: September 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


Several experienced riders were out when a squall started to move into the area. Violent squall related wind warnings had been previously sent out with the weather forecast. Dark squall clouds had been visible much of the day but further out to sea. Prior to the arrival of the squall, the wind was about 5 Bft. (17 to 21 kts.). A couple of riders saw the squall moving in and secured their kites on the beach rapidly. Another rider had lowered his 6 m X2 kite for an assisted landing and almost had it in the assistants hands. The wind suddenly gusted violently to approximately 9 bft. (41 to 47 kt.). The rider was lofted up to about 10 m (33 ft. ) off the beach and blew him at speed approximately 30 to 50 m (95 to 170 ft.). The kiteboarder hit the beach at this point but was lofted to about 5 m (18 ft.). The rider hit the beach again and the kite detached and flew away . A rider was seen flying over the beach with a 6 m X2 kite about 5 m (16 ft.), above the beach. Lifeguards responded immediately and rendered first aid. The rider was airlifted out by helicopter and his current condition is unknown. Within about ten minutes of the squall winds returned to normal.

Lessons learned

1. Kiteboarders must avoid squalls at all costs.
2. Kiteboarders should always practice anti-lofting technique.
3. Always use minimum safety gear including a good helmet, impact vest, quick release (QR) chicken loop attachment, a tested kite leash, hook knife(s), gloves and a whistle.
4. Rehearse dealing with emergency situations both mentally and physically to reduce reaction and response time. An early high priority should be to activate your tested kite leash.
5. Depower your kite sooner than later even if it is less convenient. Later, you may not have time.


Many kiteboarders have been lofted in violent winds associated with squalls or storms around the world. The only effective way to manage gust lofting is avoidance as if you wait to the last minute or if the gust hit with little warning by the time you analyze the situation it may be too late to react to avoid injury. All kiteboarders should evaluate weather forecasts and real time winds and weather radar to evaluate for the presence of storms. If storms are in or are moving towards your area, don't go kiteboarding. More information on this may be found in the Kiteboarding Safety Resources (KSR).

55. Incident # 9 02 2 "Launch Miscommunication Injuries Rider" Location: Rhosneigr, North Wales
Date: September 7, 2002 Participant account included: No Number of independent accounts: 2


A very experienced rider had been kiteboarding earlier in the day well powered in relatively steady Force 5 (17 to 21 kts.), onshore winds. It was high tide so the normally very wide beach was relatively narrow at about 12 m (40 ft.) ending at a seawall. He was going to have an assisted launch of his Airush 9.4 m four line LEI kite. He had chosen to launch rapidly, near the seawall area as opposed to further down the beach away from these downwind hard objects. During the assisted launch the rider yelled "NO" but the assistant thought he said "GO" and released the kite.

What the assistant could not see but the rider had was that the lines on one side of the kite in strumming in the wind had tangled. The kite flew up at high speed and arced over into the center of the power zone out of control. The rider was dragged into the approximate 1.5 m (5 ft.), high seawall. At that point his was lofted and flown over the seawall, slamming into the top of a 4 inch diameter fiberglass flag pole at a height of about 5 m (16 ft.) and broke the pole with his body. He was then flown over some cars and into the side of a panel truck, badly denting the side of the vehicle. There was a six foot high brick wall immediately beyond the truck which the rider would have hit if not for the panel truck. The rider was connected to or hooked into his quick release chicken loop but didn't have time to detach prior to the first impact. He was not wearing a helmet or impact pfd. The overall horizontal distance of travel was estimated to be about 40 m (130 ft.).

The rider was in severe pain, placed on oxygen and rushed to the hospital by ambulance. His injuries included a fractured pelvis and femur, rib and nicked cheek. Amazingly he did not suffer serious head injury. It has been reported that he should heal fully in time.

Lessons learned

1. Always communicate clearly with trained kiteboarding assistants. Using a signal dialog such as described in:
could potentially avoid further launch related accidents caused through miscommunication. There other cases in the KSI of problems caused by misunderstandings during this critical phase of kiteboarding.
2. Always be methodical and as slow as necessary in setup, preflighting and launching. Refer to the steps described in the Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines and other appropriate practices to try to improve your kiteboarding safety.
3. Always walk a bit further away if a more appropriate launch area is present. One that lacks downwind hard objects, bystanders, vertical surfaces that may cause uplift and other potential hazards. "Distance is your friend" in kiteboarding. Downwind hard objects are reportedly not a serious issue as a rule for most locations at this launch.
4. If you decide to hook or snap shackle into your chicken loop or harness line, even with a quick release function, you should assume that someday you will be injured by this practice. I safer course of action is never to hook in or connect to your control bar during launch.
5. Always wear safety gear including at a minimum a good helmet appropriate for kiteboarding, an impact pfd, hook knives, whistle and gloves.
6. Be particularly cautious in onshore winds. Choosing not to launch in such winds may save you injury someday, regardless of your level of skill. This rider was reported the most experienced kiteboarder at this launch.


This was another unfortunate, avoidable accident. If fortune had not be with this rider he could have very easily been killed, at several points in this accident. Probability dictates that we will have only so many narrow escapes along with other less fortunate accident outcomes. We really need to take the power and potential hazards of this sport in all seriousness. Review and follow the Safe Kiteboarding Guidelines and other appropriate practices. In many of these accidents it isn't one serious error in judgment that causes things to come to harm but several. Things like rushing to launch, launching upwind of hard objects, flying in onshore winds, launching hooked in, not wearing a helmet or impact pfd, not preflighting, not using agreed launch signal dialog, etc. We really need to approach this sport with more care otherwise every once in a while a rider will be injured.

Copyright FKA, Inc. 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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