Kitesurfing Safety: How Not to Die


Last Updated on July 3, 2023 by Snorkel Ken

Ever watch those videos on your Facebook feed or on Youtube of people being thrown about or dragged onto a dock or a boat while kitesurfing?  Yeah.  We’ve seen those, too.  It’s scary but that’s why we’re here.  We want to make sure that you stay alive and not get dead at any time while kitesurfing.  I don’t care if you’re novice or expert.  We want you to stay alive.

Most kitesurfing equipment has made leaps and bounds in the last few years in regards to being more dependable, more sturdy, and lots safer.  That being said, we’re talking about the ocean here.  Like I’m so fond of saying while we’re walking around the beaches and rocks of Hawaii: “Never turn your back on the ocean”.  Can you imagine how hard it is NOT to turn your back on the ocean while you’re in open water?

Let’s Take a Look at 20 Hard Earned KiteSurfing Safety Tips

  1. Don’t Go Chintzy on the Learning

You should always take kitesurfing lessons.  There are, like most sports with a professional level, a few organizations that you should be looking for when choosing where to get your kitesurfing lessons.  If see a school and/or instructor that is certified by IKO or VDWS (German) then you can safely trust that they are certified thoroughly.

  1. The Best Equipment You Can Afford: But Never Cheap

Buying kitesurfing equipment should be done appropriately.  Like we say in the linked guide, you should buy kitesurfing gear that can accommodate your current plus 1 level.  In other words, if you’re a beginner, then you should buy equipment that is good to be a beginner on but that will also take you comfortably through the intermediate level.

Buy good equipment and gear that you can afford.  Don’t go cheap.  It’ll pay off in the end.

  1. Buying Used is Ok…Just Be Picky

Buying used kitesurfing gear can save you lots of money, just be sure that it’s still in decent shape.  Don’t buy anything older than 3 or 4 years old as safety and quality get better every year and you’ll be too far behind if you’re buying equipment more than 4 years old.  Also, be on the lookout for kites with big patches or are currently broken.  I wouldn’t buy those.

  1. Don’t Be Anything But Ready, Alert and Feeling Great

This should go without saying but we’ll say it anyway.  After a day or days of traveling on limited rest or jet lag, or after a booze-filled night and still kind of buzzing or hanging over IS NOT the time to go kiting. It’s just not smart, dudes and dudettes.  You’re just asking to be a statistic.  Make sure you’re well rested and not drunk.  Just be smart.

  1. Chicken Loop, Chicken Loop

Know how to release and put the chicken loop back together.  Most brands and gear have the same chicken loop design these days but you can never be too safe.  Do you know when the worst time to figure out a chicken loop release issue is?  Out on the water.  Get familiarized with it on the beach.

  1. Get to Know Your Kitesurfing Spot BEFORE being on the water

Don’t go in blind.  Intel will win most battles.  Take a few extra moments of your time to ask the local dive shops or a kiter on the beach about: wind conditions, areas for kiting, if there are “dead spots” on the water because of wind blockage by terrain or man-made objects, any water issues like shells, urchins, jelly fish….AND is there rescue personnel in the area.

  1. Don’t Go Kiting Alone

If you DO GO ALONE, then find a buddy at the beach and ask them to keep an eye out on ya’ if they don’t mind.  This is tricky because you don’t really want to let anyone know that you’re traveling alone.  Just say that you’re “friend” is coming later.

  1. Kite with Rescue

Don’t be so proud that you think that you can get away with no need of a rescue.  Believe me, it happens.  Just ask about the 2 hours it took me trying to get back upwind and sending rescue away once. In the end, they rescued me anyways.  It happens.  Don’t be egotistical. You’ll get tired and panicky quicker than you think.  When you’re upwind and riding nice, then you’ll have a hard time remembering that shit can happen.  When it does.  Just chalk it up to “luck” that you have rescue available.

  1. Know Self Rescue

You need to know self-rescue.  Things can get bad if you’re not learned or experienced enough to do this.  You don’t want to be a kilometer from shore with a tangle and not know how to self-rescue as you’re being pulled towards the rocks. Ouch.  Watch YouTube videos for kitesurfing self-rescue OR ask an experienced kiter or instructor to show/explain it to you.

  1. Stay Calm

You’re more likely to die if you freak out.  I’m not trying to be funny here…it’s the truth.  You’ll think more clearly and be able to problem solve if you’re mind is panicked.  There’s a certain order of things when it comes to self-rescue just as there is in many things in life.  Stay calm, stay alive.

  1. Keep Your Distance from Beginners

Of course, if someone needs help then offer a hand.  Remember what it was like to be an embarrassed or panicked noob?  Beginners, though, are more apt to lose control and crash…so keep your distance.  Also, for them, it’s really hard to gauge stuff like distance and they often get too close to people.  Help them out and maintain your distance.

  1. Stay Alert, Stay Alive

It’s easy to get “lost” on the water especially when you’re kiting.  Losing track of the situation around you does happen.  Try, though, to stay alert of what the general atmosphere and activity in the water are.  If the water empties quickly and everyone starts heading to shore then know why.  Storm coming?  Beasty in the water? It’s all good stuff to know.

  1. Rescue in at Least 2’s

Don’t try to rescue alone unless you’ve been kiting for years and have the proper training.  It might pull at your heart strings to help those in need but when people are panicked and novice then you’re more likely to die saving someone then it is you’ll both make it out alive.

  1. Wear a helmet and impact vest

This is where you tell me (or silently tell yourself) that you’re too cool for a helmet and impact vest.  The other people aren’t wearing them and look how good they look?  Well, the most experienced don’t wear them because they’re the most experienced.  You should wear them.  End of subject.  Besides, wearing safety equipment can really give you that added confidence to try some advanced trickery.

  1. Be Aware of What to Do if the WORST Happens:

Probably, these things don’t happen.  But if they do, let’s make sure that you know what you’re doing and how to react:

Your feet, hands, fingers are getting tangled in the kite lines-  Get your body and appendages clear of the lines. Once the wind returns and your kite get’s power again, it’s bad news.

Death Looping Kite due to line broke- Watch this video.


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