Recently Richards Bay Deputy Station Commander Cornel Du Toit, an avid kiteboarder, demonstrated to our crew the safe recovery of a kiteboarder at sea.
The kiter would have de-powered the kite if he was capable of doing so. It is called ditching which only leaves one line attached to the kite.
The rescue boat should approach the kite from down wind, recover it by taking hold of the inflated edge (do not take hold on orange area without tube, shown in photograph) and deflate by pulling the largest valve, usually in the center of canopy on the leading edge (inflated “tube-like” edge). This valve is normally marked deflate. Now the crew can pull the kiter to the boat using the lines.
Taking hold of the orange area will enable the wind to take control of the kite and it will thrust around uncontrollably. .
If the kiter is unconscious, proceed to the patient first. The coxswain should place the boat next to the kiter and the crew retrieves the patient from water. Always be careful of kite lines as they have about 500kg breaking strain.
Keep a knife handy and cut lines free if need be.
If at all possible try to ditch the kite (release it from the kiter). On the harness will be a stainless steel hook where lines are attached via plastic loop. Directly behind this loop you would find a safety clip clearly marked with arrow, usually red or orange.
Pulling this in direction of arrow will ditch the kite leaving only one line attached to kite via a cabrina with elastic rope to harness. Now kite can safely be retrieved by pulling it to the boat by one line.
Once the kite is in the crew’s hands and deflated as described above, it can be rolled up to save space on boat and tucked away. And once it is deflated retrieve all the remaining lines which can be wrapped around the bar or wrapped inside the fabric of the kite canopy.