Rider rescue

written by David Dorn


Kiteboarders have the ability to rescue each other by towing the other person with their kite. The kite harnesses are designed with a rescue handle on the back, so that someone can grab onto it and get pulled to safety. we also use the handle when teaching to provide a strong grip onto the student or for the student to hold onto us.

How to do a rider rescue:

To rescue a conscious victim, presumable another kiter, you can come up to them and tell them to grab your handle, and then you can slowly drag them to shore.

Go slowly so that they do not lose their grip. if you are going a short distance then you can get into the waterstart position with your board on your feet. If other person of just swimming without any gear it is easier. if you need to go a long distance then you should get into the board drag position, and put your board in your front hand, and fly the kite one handed. then you can get into the superman position and be more streamlined. this also helps if you need to stay upwind. The rider on the back should try to stay streamlined too, with their feet behind them.

if you try to go faster then the load on the kite is greater, and it becomes harder to control. Also the person you are rescuing will have more difficulty holding on. maybe they are already tired from their wipeout or accident. if however they are strong and fit it is possible to try to get them planing on their legs. This requires some extreme powerstrokes, and you will need to try to waterstart while the other person is holding onto the back of your harness. this can get quite extreme, so do not try this close to other people or objects. You will need to do some deep powerstrokes and point your board downwind to try and get planing. If you wipeout take care not to hit the rescued rider with your board. Also if they suddenly let go of you while you are loaded up, you will get slingshoted. so be prepared for them to let go at any time.

Id o not recommend that any try to tow a rider who is heavier than them at planing speeds. “Slow is pro” it is better to take your time to ensure your success.

Recovering a rider with gear;

Rider with Board: if the person you are recovering has their board with them, then they can hold your handle with one hand (back hand) and do an upwind bodydrag but instead of holding a control bar, they will hold your harness handle.

If they need two hands to hold you, then they can put their board on their feet, and keep it behind them, as they get towed belly down, in the superman position. This way they will have low drag, and get towed towards the surface.

Advanced rider with board: if the person is skilled enough then you can tow them while riding. they get into the waterstart position behind you as you waterstart. then they hold the handle and get up onto a plane behind you. you will need more power than usual because you will have twice the drag, also you will need to point downwind more, and it takes longer to get planing . Once planing you may need to keep power-stroking the kite to maintain planing speeds.

Safety Tips: Do not tether yourself to the student or allow them to tether to you. A tether is a connection usually someone will hook into the harnness, or use their leash. this might be dangerous because you can get stuck together. However some times a leash makes a good tow rope, but be careful of the hooks and recoil o the leash f they let go. usually it is better to simply use the handle, that is whet it is there for.


ride safe,

David Dorn