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Off to the Rescue: Advanced Recoveries

By Paul Menta

I am sure you’re getting the picture that helping out other kiters gets you some good karma, but first you need to learn the skills to help. This time we will cover recoveries that are a little more advanced and will help you quickly recover people and gear. Practice makes perfect and I cannot stress enough that you should take time to practice these techniques in controlled situations before you try to help someone in a real life.

As we all push ourselves in learning new moves or riding bigger surf, I can tell you from my own experience that it sure is nice to see a friendly face after getting your ass handed to you. We all follow the same quest: Wind. Let’s look out for one another! A bad wreck or lost board can have a great ending with a little kite karma.


Retrieving a Loose Kite

Picking up a loose kite can be tricky, so make sure you have a plan and can predict where the kite will go. If the kite is tumbling, don’t try to grab it until it settles down and seems to be staying on the water so you will be able to control it once you get there. Practice this in light wind before giving it a try on a windy day.

  • 1. Go downwind of the kite as you approach so that you won’t get into any lines behind the kite.
  • 2. As you pass the kite, look for a place to grab where you can control it. In this case, I am going for the bridle.
  • 3. Notice that I am a little upwind of the kite, so I can have my kite pulling me away a bit to avoid getting myself wrapped up in the loose kite.
  • 4. The nice thing about grabbing a bridle is that I don’t need to flip the kite over. I simply start to pull it with me, and the wind will lift the kite above the water. Many times the kite will hover and then flip to make your ride easier.

If the kite doesn’t have a bridle, you can grab a wing tip to stop the kite and then drift away from the kite and begin to help it flip over before you start to ride on your board. Either way, make sure you approach, observe, plan, and then proceed to grab the kite. If it doesn’t feel right, just trust your instincts and let go of the kite. You always come first in safety, not the kite!

Launching a Downed Kite:

Before you launch someone’s kite, first check on the rider and explain what you will do so they are ready. They may not want you to launch the kite for some reason, so make sure you communicate first.

  • 1. Ride towards the kite, ready to grab the leading edge with one hand while you fly your kite with the other. In this case, I am going to grab the kite with my left hand.
  • 2. As you approach, slow down and grab the leading edge above the center of the kite. This will give you the leverage to flip the kite up.
  • 3. Power up your kite to help flip over the downed kite as you ride away.
  • 4. As you ride away, let you hand slide down the leading edge as the kite launches. Keep your kite low and ride away as quickly as possible.

Picking Up a Loose Board:

It’s very common for a beginner to get separated from his or her board, leaving it way upwind. Even if a beginner can body drag upwind, it might take them a long time to get back to the board. You can be a Good Samaritan by picking up a loose board and delivering it back to the owner.

  • 1. Approach the board from upwind. As you reach the board, slow down and sit in the water so you can fly your kite in neutral.
  • 2. Pick up the board and put in your lap, so that you can use your knees to hold it while controlling your kite.
  • 3. As you get up out of the water, use your back hand to hold a foot strap while still controlling your kite. Your knees will help steady the board as you start off.
  • 4. As you ride away, you can then tuck the board under your arm.
  • 5. When delivering the board back to the rider, go past them downwind to prevent a kite tangle. Set the board down nicely where they can easily get to it. Don’t throw it at their head!


Turning Around with a Loose Board

Sometimes, you may have to tack once or twice to get the board back to the person who lost it. This can be a real pain, so here are a few tips to help:

  • 1. Use your upwind hand to hold the board and keep your knees bent to help carry the board as you slow down and sink into the water.
  • 2. Use both hands to redirect your kite in the new direction.
  • 3. Grab the board with your new upwind hand as you ride away. Do this slowly, as it’s not as easy as it looks!

Tow Another Kiter on a Board:

If someone becomes separated from their kite and is far out, they may need help getting back to the beach. Besides helping someone out this can also be a lot of fun!

  • 1. Ride up to the kiter downwind of them.
  • 2. Tell them to put their board on and grab the back of your harness.
  • 3. Once you are ready to go, tell them not to stand up on the board until you say so.
  • 4. You will need more power than usual to pull two people out of the water. Aggressively dive the kite into the power zone.
  • 5. As you direct the kite back up, tell the other rider to stand. This is the hardest step, because now there will be a lull in power until you dive the kite again.
  • 6. You will probably need to head downwind a little to keep both riders going.
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