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Offshore Wind - Self Rescue Options?

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Created by FJP 2 months ago, 2 Oct 2022
FJP
WA, 1 posts
2 Oct 2022 1:20PM
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Hi everyone,

First time poster and long-time reader, have learnt lots from the Forum over the past few years.

Yesterday I was kiting at Leighton beach in Perth making the most of the Spring sea breezes we are starting to get when the SSW wind swung S (side-shore) then SSE (offshore). The wind also starting dropping from 18-20 knots to 15-16. The forecast did have the wind turning offshore, but later in the day than when I was expecting it.

I was flying my 8m North Carve with a surfboard. once the wind started to shift I made it closer to shore (100m or so, deepwater) and managed to keep the kite flying as the wind dropped with lots of turns and loops.

But... eventually the wind really dropped and swung properly offshore. And my kite dropped out of the sky and it was just too light to relaunch. I performed the start of a self rescue bringing in my lines while straddling the board, then when I got to the kite I hooked my feet over it and paddled on the board back to shore. Even though it's was only 100m, it took ages paddling against the wind on a low volume surf board. If the offshore wind was any stronger, I would have been in big trouble! I got caught out and lucky to get back to shore safely with all my gear.

So question for the experienced kiters here, what's the technique to get back to shore in this situation?

If I was further out and wind got stronger, I would have ditched the kite and swam to shore. Is packing down in deepwater ever an option if you have no boat support and have to swim?

Two lessons learnt for me: 1. If forecast has the wind swinging, choose a safer spot that's onshore with the direction change / land kite as soon you feel the wind shifting. 2: self rescue with light offshore wind is very hard and exhausting, don't underestimate the effort to paddle back with a kite.

Thanks in advance everyone.
Cheers

Fraser

gesper
NSW, 517 posts
2 Oct 2022 7:54PM
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Hi Fraser
Its definitely not a very pleasant situation to be in when the wind goes offshore. My advice with a surfboard would be to self rescue as you did and deflate the leading edge leaving the struts inflated and roll the kite up and if possible use your harness to wrap around the kite to try and keep it together and paddle back to shore. Im unsure whether you deflated kite first before paddling in but an inflated kite would be very difficult to paddle back to shore with in an offshore wind.

cbulota
WA, 1416 posts
2 Oct 2022 5:28PM
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Hi Fraser,

Good timing with your post.

I'm sure you weren't the only person in trouble yesterday. It's a reminder of the importance of being competent at self-rescue in a variety of situations, including in off-shore winds.

When you are less than 100m away from shore and the wind is clearly off-shore, my advice would be to activate the chicken loop QR, wait for your kite to flag out, and start swimming right away towards the shore with your board. It's a considerable effort but shouldn't take too long even for an average swimmer unless the wind is very strong off-shore or if your kite doesn't properly flag out for some reason. Since there is only a single line attached to you and your bar is further away, it's easy to avoid getting tangled.

The good thing about this technique is that if you change your mind, you can always either ditch the kite or decide to go for a pack down self-rescue ( as per the video below and as mentioned by gesper above).

It's difficult to do a good pack down and swimming with a packed-down kite is also slow even with multiple struts still inflated because there is usually a fair bit of water lodged around the kite creating a lot of drag. If you can manage to do a really good pack down and drain the water from around the kite by lifting it up on a surfboard and strapping everything with your safety leash, you can potentially reduce the drag to the point where this technique could be faster and easier than other techniques mentioned here. Of course, it's easier with a smaller kite like a 6m but can be a real pain with something like a 12m or bigger. Either way, the only way for a pack down to be effective is to be good at it, which means you need to practice this procedure multiple times.

The biggest issue with deflating a kite is losing lots of visibility from a rescue party. I would avoid deflating a kite for rescue purposes if you are more than 400m away from the shore or if less than 1H before sunset.

As you mentioned, ditching the kite is a good option in cases where swimming back to shore with your gear is simply too difficult or will take too long. Just keep in mind that if you do that, you must notify the Water Police immediately ((08) 9442 8600 for WA) when you get back to safety. This will avoid deploying rescue efforts.

In summary, there are multiple ways to self-rescue in off-shore situations. I don't think one technique is better than the other and it also depends on the circumstances, wind conditions, distance from the shore, your fitness level, if you're a good swimmer or not, etc.

I would suggest that you practice the pack down self-rescue in a very light off-shore wind next time you go at the beach.

www.kitebud.com.au/kitesurfing-online-courses/pack-down-self-rescue/

More safety videos here: www.kitebud.com.au/kitesurfing-online-courses/

Hope this helps.

Christian - KiteBud

AUS126
NSW, 178 posts
2 Oct 2022 10:03PM
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I have had a bit of experience with this over the years. I have tried the pack down method and as Christian said is very very difficult to do tightly. My advice is don't deflate your kite. Hook your leash to the little loop you attach your pump to and start paddling. (You can wind your lines up). There is no more drag than a deflated water loged kite and you are visible. I also feel more at peace with any fishes that might be lurking around. You might get wind assistance or even be able to relaunch down the track or another kiter might be able to hook his leash to your little loop and take your kite.

Deefer
VIC, 113 posts
4 Oct 2022 7:36AM
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AUS126 said..
I have had a bit of experience with this over the years. I have tried the pack down method and as Christian said is very very difficult to do tightly. My advice is don't deflate your kite. Hook your leash to the little loop you attach your pump to and start paddling. (You can wind your lines up). There is no more drag than a deflated water loged kite and you are visible. I also feel more at peace with any fishes that might be lurking around. You might get wind assistance or even be able to relaunch down the track or another kiter might be able to hook his leash to your little loop and take your kite.


Agree with this method haven't had to use it in reality but tried it from about 1K out at our local to make sure I could actually do it as I'm getting far older than I like to admit.
One thing I would add is loosen your harness and jam the bar between the velcro and the spreader bar, flip the whole lot round to the back and then start a paddling, it gives you one less thing to grapple with.

DerekR
WA, 8 posts
8 Oct 2022 4:52PM
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Yep, I had the same experience 6 years ago at Leightons Beach, along with several other kiters (thou they were much closer in). It took me 60 mins to get back to shore and I must have been only 200m off shore. The wind just dropped. I waited and tried numerous times to re-launch hoping it was just an temporary lull. After about 15mins, and with the SSE picking up I eventually wrapped up the lines and used the kite to float on and started to paddle. I paddle directly to shore but I felt I wasn't making headway (hard to judge change in distance when you're off shore). I felt sitting on the kite and paddling was awkward as the whole thing sagged like a pool noddle and hence not very streamline, I eventually decided to let enough air out of the leading edge so the kite sat flattish on the surface and let it spread out so as to catch the least amount of wind (I was hopeful the SSE would pick up so I could re-launch thou it never did). It could be argued I now had more drag in the water, but at the time I felt I'd rather have the drag than the higher wind exposure of a wrapped up kite. I clipped my leach to the air pump tab and swam breast stroke. I eventually made it back, landing about a km up the beach. Being of vintage and hence not a strong swimmer I now don't venture out if there is the remotest chance of a late afternoon wind shift (which may, as it did on this day, come early). So many things could have lead to a different outcome (adverse current, stronger wind shift to the east, being a lot further out, etc.) And to state the obvious, when the wind dropped and swung off shore NO ONE ELSE could kite out to me (or the others). The few that were on the beach could only watch, as we drifted up the coast. Perhaps different now with lots of foils around.

Sandee
QLD, 77 posts
9 Oct 2022 9:39AM
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While I'm confident in my self-rescue ability, and don't go further offshore than I believe I can swim back from, I also have a back-up plan of a small PLB secured inside my impact vest (as absolute last resort). So biggest concern is that people on the beach call emergency services when they're not needed! (Unfortunately some can't tell the difference between the deliberate actions of a 'self-rescue', or a kiter in distress.) Just puts more pressure on to getting it done quickly, but you really can't rush these things.

listery
QLD, 93 posts
9 Oct 2022 11:09AM
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Been using the NP High Hook buoyancy aid ever since I discovered them at Kite Addiction 10 years ago



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"Offshore Wind - Self Rescue Options?" started by FJP