Boat safety depends on your knowledge and the choices you make. It also depends on the information that each of us transmits to our instructor candidates and students. Please read the following guidelines. They are the recommendations of experienced IKO examiners and other experts. If you have any additional suggestions please share them. Please always use caution, discretion, and common sense when operating any vessel. Combining powerboats with kiteboarding, has both pros and cons. Each of these points can be broken down further into the reasons why and history behind them. This is just the short list. Be sure that you are familiar with all of the associated risks before attempting to teach from a boat.


  1. Rules and regulations:
    • All boat drivers to have boat license or boat safety certificate.
    • Boats must be compliant and registered according to local laws.
    • Always respect the navigation and row rules.
    • Operate the craft safely and respect speed limits.
    • Avoid commercial boat traffic.


  1. Boat Types:
    • There are different boats that can be used for teaching.
    • Generally these rules are intended for RIB (inflatable) boats.
    • These craft are the most common and useful for teaching.
    • In some circumstances a Jetski (seadoo) PWC may be used.
    • Other small powerboat with hard rails could possibly be used but special consideration must be given to each type of vessel.
    • The safety and ease of getting students and equipment in and out of the water must be the primary consideration for the choice of vessel.


  1. Boat Training (during an ITC):
    • Do a boatsafe type knowledge course before boat training.
    • Drivers to be trained to handle boat up to the conditions of the setting.
    • Boat handling to be conducted without live subjects first.
    • Boat handling to be conducted on candidates and experienced kiteboarders next (instructor candidates).
    • New boat drivers should not be trained on BH using new kiteboard students.
    • Boat handling, and kite handling from a boat should be learned as separate skills before combining them.

(Boats handle differently to cars, people need knowledge and training in boat handling, A “boatsafe” knowledge course is the prerequisite for boat handling training).


  1. Kill Switches:
    • A killswitch is to be used at all times, with a lanyard attached to the boat’s driver.
    • A foot leash on the kill switch may be used to allow freedom of movement, but the driver must be able to kill the motor quickly.
    • A kill switch lanyard cannot be too long or the driver could be injured by the motor.
    • A spare kill switch lanyard must be attached to the boat close to the ignition in case of driver overboard, so the boat can be restarted.
    • Use kill switch to stop the motor and the boat when persons entering and exiting the boat: (boats can run over their drivers and others if kill switch/lanyard is not used).


  1. Communication, Equipment:
    • Always use IKO hand signals concurrently with verbal commands, so that you have a backup communication method.
    • Boat to carry communication waterproof phone/radios.
    • Have an emergency contact.
    • Boat drivers/instructors to carry backup communication on their persons in case of going overboard.

(Call for help in emergency, and in case of falling overboard. Communicate with students).


  1. Personal Equipment:
    • All persons onboard to wear appropriate lifejackets.
    • Boat to have sharp knife (in sheath) for line entanglements.
    • All instructors and drivers to carry kite knives on their persons.
    • Instructors to wear harness, and kite leash.
    • All students to wear helmets.
    • All persons to wear wetsuits in cold water.
    • Carry spare windbreaker jackets for warmth.
    • Booties are recommended to protect feet.

(Life jackets float, people don’t, especially when knocked unconscious. People can be trapped by the lines, hair, and clothing under the boat or motor).


  1. Loading boats:
    • Boats are never to be overloaded (see manufacturer’s capacity).
    • Respect the maximum number of persons allowed on the boat as seen in boats paperwork or on plaque on the transom
    • Always carry less than the max number of passengers, This allows a safety margin, and the ability to rescue others.
    • Allow for equipment, as part of the total payload.
    • Reduce weight and passengers, to improve handling/safety in extreme conditions.
    • When teaching from boat allow for more space to pump/launch kites.
    • Distribute the load evenly and trim the boat.
    • Load the heavy items lowermost, to keep the CG (center of gravity) low.
    • Secure the equipment when in transit.

(Overloading causes an increased risk, decreases the boats handling ability, and safety factor, more accidents happen on overcrowded boats)

  1. Respect the student/instructor teaching ratios.
    • IKO Level 1 can teach 2 students with 1 kite
    • IKO Level 2 can teach 4 students with 2 kite
    • IKO Level 2s can teach 4 students with 2 kite
    • IKO Level 2s can teach 4 students with 4 kite (if using an Assistant)

(These are the maximum teaching ratios for ideal conditions.

When teaching multiple students from a boat it is recommended to always use an assistant or dedicated boat driver so that the Instructor can launch/land/instruct. Keep in mind that a boat cannot be in two places at once, so you cannot rescue two people at the same time).


  1. Operate craft at safe speeds.
    • Always operate at a Safe operational speed.
    • Slow down as needed; traffic, weather, load, visibility.
    • Slow down when driving into steep chop.
    • Slow down when driving into a headwind, (remember the combined apparent wind will be greater).
    • Respect speed limits and other water users.
    • When slowing from high speed, do so gradually to avoid being overtaken by the stern wave.

(Passengers can fall out and get run over by motor, injuries and loss of control could occur. Avoid collisions with other boats, obstacles, and swimmers).


  1. Boat handling:
    • Do not place the boat directly downwind of a kiter (it creates a hazard).
    • Always stay safe distance from obstacles, and maintain safety buffers.
    • Take care when driving down swell, to avoid broaching.
    • Better to drive on the back of the swell, and follow the wave in large surf.
    • Do not multitask whilst driving the boat.
    • Do not fly a kite whilst driving the boat.
    • Never leave the boat adrift, or unattended.

(The driver is responsible for the boat and the passengers. They must give their full and undivided attention to the task).


  1. Boat Conduct (for passengers):
    • Stay with the boat!
    • Sit inboard whilst in motion.
    • Do not stand in the boat whilst it is in motion.
    • Do not sit on the gunwales unless on an inflatable RIB.
    • Do not touch the controls, even by accident.
    • Passengers/crew to hold onto the boat whilst in motion.
    • Keep hands and feet inboard when docking or coming alongside another vessel.
    • Know the boat’s safety procedures.
    • Do not enter or exit the boat whilst the motor is running.
    • Do not climb up over the transom near the boat motor (for outboards).

(Passengers can fall out and get run over by motor)


  1. Boat Management:
  • Have a propeller guard if possible when working with people in the water.
  • Test batteries, before using the boat, charge if necessary.
  • Run engine before putting it in the water.
  • Make sure boat is held at station until engine is started.
  • There is no substitute for experience.
  • Put time in on the water whenever you can in whatever craft you can.
  • Keep the craft well maintained and serviced.
  • The boat must be reliable, and dependable.
  1. All students and passengers to be briefed on basic boat safety:
    • Sitting down (and holding on) when boat in motion.
    • Avoid the motor, propeller.
    • Signal for help (IDS).
    • Calling for help with radio/phones.
    • Location of first aid kit.
    • How to kill the motor.
    • Do not to touch the controls.
    • Man overboard procedures.
    • Keep headcounts.
    • Keeping a lookout.
    • Reporting fatigue, injury, sickness or cold.


  1. Motor Safety:
    • Always stop the motor when it is close to someone in the water.
    • Always stop the motor when it is close to lines in the water.
    • Do not maneuver close to swimmers.
    • Use a prop guard (recommended).
    • Keep clear of the danger zone at the rear of boat.
    • Even a stopped motor can cause injury.

(Reduce the risk of propeller strike injuries)


  1. Driving close to kites:
    • Do not drive under kites, or through the WW of flying kites.
    • Stay outside the WW.
    • Do not drive directly downwind of kiters.
    • Never drive over the kite’s lines.
    • Use waves/wind to slow boat,
    • Do not overuse reverse gear.

(Getting tangled with the kite’s lines can disable the motor completely, and cause a dangerous situation for the kiter).



  1. Rider recovery (without kite):
    • Pick up person from the water from the DW (boat downwind) side.
    • Or crosswind to the person.
    • If you pick up from the UW (boat upwind) side they can go under the boat, as the boat drifts downwind.
    • Always kill the motor completely when bringing someone into the boat (especially over the transom).
    • Beware of; rowlocks, bollards, and cleats, that can snag the equipment of the students as they climb in & out of the boat.
    • Beware of carabineers & snap shackles that can trap lines and gear.

(Beware that motors can accidentally be engaged and run over swimmers, killing the motor completely, reduces this risk.)


  1. Keep an eye on the weather:
    • Never go out in a thunderstorm or lightning.
    • Avoid strong winds, it makes boat handling difficult and can flip the boat.
    • Waves and chop make boat launching/handling more difficult.
    • Assess conditions carefully before going out, “if in doubt don’t go out”.
    • Unlikely to be safe to launch boat on open beaches in strong winds or swell.
    • If going out in rough conditions to rescue someone would put you in danger, call and wait for emergency services, they are trained to rescue in all conditions, and can make a final decision of whether it is safe to do so.
    • Get a weather forecast before going out.
    • Come back to shore if the weather worsens.


  1. Never exceed your abilities and training:
    • Consider the abilities of the weakest student, and instructor.
    • All instructors, students, lifters and passengers must be able to swim.
    • All kiteboarders must be able to self rescue & packdown.
    • Do a “boatsafe” knowledge course before driving a boat.
    • Learn boat handling before attempting to teach from a boat.


  1. Maintain a proper lookout:
    • Maintain a proper lookout at all times.
    • Look out for; other traffic, obstacles, weather, swimmers, kiters.
    • Maintain visual contact with all kiteboarders (students and lifters).
    • Better to have the boat positioned downwind of the kiters so that they can reach the boat by body-dragging (but keep a safe distance).
    • Know when your students are in trouble (they may not be able to signal for help).
    • Be able to get to your students quickly and at all times.



  1. Students and Passengers (lifters):
    • All kiters must be briefed on accident avoidance.
    • All kiters must be briefed and checked on safety systems.
    • All kiters must know the self rescue/packdown (lifters to show IKO L3n card) or checkout/briefing.


  1. Equipment for boat teaching:
    • Use short lines for teaching.
    • Use a bucket for each kite.
    • Have a kite pump.
    • An anchor or sea-anchor
    • Never use board leashes.
    • Use Go-jos for new students (recommended).
    • Use radio helmets when teaching from a boat (recommended), the engine is noisy. Using radio helmets is helpful when teaching multiple students.


  1. Boat Safety Equipment (as appropriate/required):
    • Radio/phone (waterproof).
    • Waterproof First Aid Kit.
    • Sheath Knife.
    • Take 2 liters of drinking water per person on board.
    • Boats to have paddles,
    • Fire extinguisher.


  1. Boat Teaching:
    • Avoid launching kites towards the boat.
    • Do not launch kites over the boat.
    • Better to drop the kites in the water and waterlaunch.
    • It is recommended that only IKO Level2 Instructors should start teaching independently from a boat.
    • We recommend that new instructors (L1) start teaching from a beach and learn kite handling before attempting to teach from a boat.
    • L1 instructors should learn to teach from a boat from an experienced instructor (L2 or above).
    • L1 instructors should not teach from a boat until they have been trained to do so.



  1. Cold Water:
    • When teaching in cold water take extra care.
    • Always provide adequate wetsuits or drysuits.
    • Passengers get wet by spray and capsizing s they must be adequately dressed also.
    • When driving to and from the site, open boats will generate apparent wind, and increase the effects of wind chill.
    • Passengers will be colder when the boat is in motion.
    • Limit the time of water exposure, and cold exposure.
    • Your session will be limited to the endurance of the weakest/coldest person.
    • If any passengers get over cooled they need to be taken care of.
    • Plan for shorter sessions when teaching on cold water.
    • Remember that wetsuits, and dry suits can fail, let in water and the student can get cold very quickly.
    • In case of a capsize all passengers will be in the water, for longer than expected. You should plan for worst case scenarios.
    • In case of mechanical failure the passengers and students can be on the boat for an extended period. Plan safety margins into all aspects of the session.
    • When teaching in cold water reduce your class sizes.
    • When teaching in cold water reduce your water time.
    • When teaching in cold water decrease they student to instructor ratio.
    • Stay close to all students and watch them for signs of hypothermia.
    • Do not teach below 10 degrees centigrade (50degrees Fahrenheit) water temperature.
    • Victims of hypothermia will have difficulty swimming.
    • Victims of hypothermia will have difficulty breathing and signaling for help.
    • Victims of hypothermia may not be able to get themselves back onboard the boat.
    • Victims of hypothermia will lose their ability to make clear decisions, and help themselves.
    • Victims of hypothermia , may appear to be re-warmed after the event but suffer from “Afterdrop” (a serious potentially fatal condition).
    • When teaching in cold water always recover the person before the equipment.
    • Remember that in stronger winds, the wind-chill will be greater.
    • Cold water and strong wind do not mix well for students.
    • Cold affects smaller people with less body mass and less body fat, faster.
    • Thin people with low body fat will tend to get colder quickly.

To be safe a student has to remember what safety steps to take and how to use their safety systems. This is still a conscious process. Therefore anything that impairs their cognitive functions and memory will reduce their ability to function safely. Cold water impairs cognitive function and memory and limits the physical and mental ability to respond to an emergency. Therefore it is not appropriate to put a new beginner, into very cold water situations.


*Instructors should remember that conditions that they themselves would ride in as expert kiters may not be suitable for training beginners in.


Limits on cold water teaching (wind chill):

  • Do not teach below 10 degrees centigrade (50degrees Fahrenheit) water temperature.
  • Do not teach beginners in cold water (*below 15 degrees Celsius)  in winds of more than 25knots.
  • Do not teach any students in cold water (*below 20 degrees Celsius)  in winds of more that 35 knots.


Boating Accidents:

Boating accidents can happen at any time: Fueling spills, fires/explosions, accidental sinking’s, collisions, failing to maintain a proper lookout. Excessive speed: reduced stopping ability, increases stopping time. Reduces ability to maneuver to avoid an obstacle. Increases the severity of any accident or impact. Can cause the passengers/driver to be ejected from the boat. Mechanical failure can also cause accidents, loss of steering, loss on power at the wrong time can allow the boat to drift or collide into obstacles, or run over people in the water. Operator error: lack of judgment, lack of training, lack of experience. Lack of technical knowledge about craft (adding wrong fuel, not doing checks and procedures, not putting in bung plugs etc. Not having adequate fuel. Operator’s impaired judgment, as a result of sickness, injury, alcohol, drugs.


About Boat handling:

Experience driving boats teaches the operator to handle the boat. Every boat handles differently. Boats drive different at different speeds and some perform well in certain conditions. And some boats will have distinct handling characteristics unique to them. Boat drivers should spend time driving their boats, when not engaged in teaching. Simply learning to maneuver the boat in a variety of situations is vital, when using the boat to teach with. A boat based lesson depends on the ability of the instructor to multitask, and to anticipate the response of the boat, in different situations.


General Tips for Boat handling:

All boats handle differently. Boats behave differently at speed than at low speed. Boats handling is affected by the load. Boats usually handle less well when heavily loaded. Some light boats handle better with some load, especially in chop and wind. Handling depends on the distribution of the load. Distribute the load evenly, and place the heaviest object low in the boat. Secure the load so that it does not move. Do not stand up in a moving boat, Do not exit or enter a moving boat. Accelerate and decelerate smoothly. Fast acceleration can cause unexpected handling problems. So do not overseer at speed. Boats can flip if you turn too quickly at high speeds. Boats experience g-force and can tilt over when turning. Keep passengers low in the boat and hold on. Slow down when driving in chop or waves. So not drive at high speeds into the wind, the boat could flip backwards. Do not drive at excessive speed, because the boat can bounce off the chop and get airborne. Do not overload the boat, or the gunwales may get swamped, and water will enter the boat. In high waves and at high loads make sure that you have sufficient freeboard to stop water entering the boat. Drive slowly when driving on a swell, because the boat may start surfing, and the boat could nosedive and broach.


Tips for learning boat handling:

  • Practice boat handling with an experienced driver on board.
  • Practice in no wind and flat water first.
  • Practice a lower speeds first and gradually try at higher speeds.
  • Always use safety gear, and use discretion.
  • Practice driving away from other users and navigation beacons, and traffic.
  • Inform the harbor master or local beach manager that you are practicing boat handling, so that they do not think that you are in trouble, or that you are being irresponsible. But they can also look out for you in case of a mishap.
  • Do a boat handing course with a local boating club, or coastguard association.
  • Learn about you type of craft by studying the user manuals and any educational materials relating to the specific craft you use.
  • Then try to drive different types of boat, to experience the differences.
  • Driving different vessel types can also teach you about your own craft.
  • Pay attention to the relative speed, acceleration, steering, and handling.


Boat handling exercises:

  • Practice stopping and starting your boat.
  • Practice killing the motor quickly. Getting in and out of gear.
  • Practice tilting the motor, up and down, there is usually a locking mechanism to adjust.
  • Practice launching the boat (from a trailer or dock) practice pulling back up to the dock.
  • Practice low speed “no-wake” driving; straight line and turning.
  • Practice stopping, and see how long it takes.
  • (boats don’t have brakes so you will need to know how far the boat will drift, after stopping the motor).
  • Practice steering after the power is cut: outboards and inboard motors will still steer a bit differently after the motor dies.
  • Jet drive motors do not steer after the motor stops, (unless specially equipped to do so).
  • Practice turning in circles.
  • Practice reversing the engine.
  • Practice steering in reverse.
  • Practicing slow speeds.
  • Practice smooth accelerations and medium speeds
  • Feel the difference between sub-planing speeds and planing speeds.
  • Some craft need help to get on the plane. Weight distribution etc.
  • Practice medium speed (sub planning) maneuvers, like wide radius turns and S-turns.
  • Practice emergency stops.
  • At medium to high speeds do not reverse the engine, because it could cause the engine to flip up (outboard motors).

Maneuvering around objects; Practice maneuvering around a fixed object like a buoy so that you can judge your relative speed.  Then you can also practice picking up a floating object. A kiteboard can be used, for this.

Person recovery: Ultimately when you have good basic boat handling skills you will need to practice picking up a person from the water. Practice this with extreme care. Stop the boat a safe distance from the person. And let them swim to the boat. Stop the motor completely, and help them to get on board. Use a ladder if necessary, or in the case of a jetski they can climb over the