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By Paul Menta/www.kitehouse.com

So now you are riding and it’s time to hit the beach! But wait! There are people, obstacles, and other kiters around and you no longer have your instructor by your side. I can already feel your stress level increasing which in turn will make you less attentive on how to react to any situation that might happen. As kiters, we almost never have perfect riding spots, so you need to adapt. Here are some surefire tips to help keep you safe and untangled.

  • The launch is the most important part of your session. If you are new to a spot, ask a local for advice on where exactly you should launch and ride and the best way to go about it. Take the time to look around and see who is doing what so you can get an idea of how everyone is riding and if there are any riding patterns.
  • After watching the riders on the water for a few minutes, you should be able to tell if there are areas that are more or less crowded. Even on days that look really crowded at first glance you can usually find areas on the water slightly upwind or downwind that are almost wide open.
  • Have a plan before you launch your kite. You should know exactly where and how you are going to get in the water before you launch. After you launch your kite is not the time to realize your board is 100 yards from the water or to discover that there is no safe and easy way into the water where you are.
  • Keep your head up and pay attention to your surroundings. Are 10 kiters on their way to the beach? Is someone approaching you on a wave?  It’s probably not the best time to launch. Wait until the area where you want to get into the water is clear before your kite is in the air.
  • Out on the water, pay attention to the body language of other riders. In crossing situations, don’t stare up at your kite. It’s a lot easier to see what the other rider’s intentions are if you make eye contact with them.
  • When crossing paths with other riders, make your intentions obvious and do something early to be sure that other riders know you see them and can easily tell what your plan is. If you intend to cross upwind, ride as far upwind as you can with your kite as high as possible. If you intend to cross downwind of the other rider, go further downwind than necessary and hold your kite as low as is reasonable.
  • Before you turn or jump, always look around to make sure someone isn’t behind you or that you won’t potentially land too close to riders downwind. Most tangles happen because someone jibes or jumps without looking first.
  • Give other riders room. If you are riding towards the beach and another rider is in front of you, turn around early as the rider in front can’t go anywhere until you turn around.

The most important part of avoiding collisions on the water is staying alert to your surroundings. Too many riders have tunnel vision on the water and are totally focused on what they are doing, not their environment. Pay attention out there and you’ll find that there’s plenty of room for all of us!