These wipeouts took place in Indonesia the ‘Mecca' for a traveling surfer… Not really the most reliable place for wind, but if it is blowing and the swell is pumping there is no place I would rather be. Kiting world class waves with sideshore wind is like heaven! Sessions where all the elements line up correctly can be few and far between. Especially when it comes to getting barreled with a kite, and that's what makes kiting barrels so special. The other reason is the amount of wipeouts you cop to get a few good ones.
So I’m often asked how do I handle a wipeout while kiting waves. The answer is quite simple for Indo waves – “Pull left hard!” or basically send the kite towards the sea, NOT towards the beach. If you see from the video, it is often like I get ejected, the wave holding you down is like edging hard to boost a jump. If you don’t send your kite to the sea however you are going to get pushed towards the kite and get slack lines, which often equals kite down.
If you do drop your kite in a solid wave, release everything ASAP. The last thing you want is to get dragged underwater while bouncing off razor sharp reef on an abandoned reef break miles from a real doctor. Also when you don’t release your kite you have a much higher chance of destroying your kite. I have been washed by some big waves and have been amazed the kite wasn’t broken, lines were normally looking more like spaghetti though. But it also helps to ride new kites if possible because a two year old kite isn’t going to handle getting washed by a 6ft wave. If you have just traveled half way round the world for a wave kiting trip, you don’t want to destroy your kite in the first wipeout.
People often talk about using a leash when wave kiting. I do sometimes but it is only when I'm kiting a reef break or somewhere that is difficult to recover your board. When kiting beach breaks I would never really use a leash.
However if you do decide to use a leash always try and understand where the board is when you wipeout, and if you think it is coming back at you fast, get ready to cover your head. For sure one day if you use a leash the board is going to hit you. I have been hit a few times but only smallish cuts that a bit of super glue fixed up in no time.
(Here's the final edit…)