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What can you do if the wind dies on you and your kite falls out of the air? Check out these tips for self rescuing.

WORDS: Andrea Zust and Peer Schnyder

Some of us know the situation better than others: the wind is slowly dying, you are the only one on the water and before you manage to do anything to prevent it, your kite is falling from the sky and you think to yourself “Oh no… too late!” You know exactly in that moment, that no matter what you try, you won’t relaunch your kite. You try anyway because you absolutely do not want to have to give up. Unfortunately, you have no luck in relaunching  your kite in the current conditions. So, as a last resort, you admit to yourself that it is time to do a self-rescue. The problem with this is that you first need to know how to do one without any safety risks. So, if you do not have those self-rescue skills yet, it is time for you to learn them now.

First make sure that you observe the situation around you and check that there are no boats or other obstacles downwind of you that could be dangerous. Release the safety system via your chicken loop so that in case of a few last gusts, your kite can’t restart. When you have everything under control, you can start with wrapping your safety line (often marked in red) nice and tightly onto your bar. We don’t recommend wrapping it around your harness hook as seen in some videos online because that way you are definitely attached to the kite without the possibility of releasing your safety leash as a last resort. While wrapping up the safety line, you can start pulling the kite towards you and roll until you reach the bar at the stopper ball. Next, take all the lines and wrap them up too, until you reach the kite. Secure the lines, so that they can’t fall off the bar. Now, your bar is nicely wrapped and still attached to you by your safety leash. Let go of the bar and lay it on the kite. If there is still some wind left, you can try using your kite as a sailing boat. For this technique, there are many videos on YouTube. However, if there is no wind left, you can do nothing else but swim. Leave your safety leash connected between the kite and your harness so that if you face any trouble, you can let go of the kite but stay connected and not lose your kite completely. This way you could also still release everything completely if needed. If you have everything ready you can start to swim.

Different board types

Twintip: If you have a twintip, try keeping it on your feet while wrapping the bar and get into a stable waterstart position, keeping your knees angled. When rolling the lines in the manner explained earlier, make sure to always keep said position. For the swimming part in the end, it is best to put the board either upside down onto the kite, or to hold it by your side with one hand, while swimming with the other and your legs, tugging the kite behind you.

Strapless and Hydrofoil: With a bigger board that you can’t keep on your feet while rolling the lines, it is best to tuck the board under one of your armpits, resting the elbow on the board. This way you still have that hand free to use for rolling the lines. You can also try to sit on your board in the water. For the first tries it is hard to keep your balance but once you master it, it is the easiest way of preserving energy and not losing your board. For the swimming part, it is best to lie on the board like surfers do and just paddle.

Some last tips about swimming

Try to avoid swimming too much upwind. Search the fastest, shortest and safest way back to land. Never try to swim against under water currents or against the wind (if the wind speed picks up again), this will cost you too much energy and could put you in to a critical situation. Take your time, make breaks, concentrate on breathing. It is hard work to pull along your whole kite gear with you in the water.

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