KITESPORTS

Kitesurfing, kiteboarding shop & school. Lessons - Durban, PE, J-Bay

Here where I live in Stilbay, South Africa, the wind, although sufficient, does not always blow strong - (for me strong means 25 - 30 - 40knots). Our season normally starts October and carries on till March, with the prevailing wind being SE, which is constant, but not as strong as Cape Town. During the season we get the odd SW, which is normally well above 30 knots, side to offshore and super gusty. Out of season we get a lot of W and NW, and these even more gusty than the SW, and totally offshore. The NW normally coincides with bigger swell, so the waves are great, smooth and big.

However, being in season we got a forecast for strongish SE winds for today which normally means nice, strong constant wind (not so gusty) and as I have yet to try out my new Cab SB 8 in proper wind it was with ++++ EXCITEMENT I finished the household chores, got our baby daughter to sleep, kissed my wife goodbye and rushed to the lagoon mouth, had some red bull:-) (ok no - water), because today was the day even Ruben Lenten would be jealous of my jumps - well maybe 50% of his, but still jealous.

The clouds were gathering as I pumped up my kite, but I have kited in rain plenty so no probs. As I went out for a flat water session in the lagoon I noticed that..., hang on, the kite loops are a bit higher than usual and I even had plenty time to down loop, before I landed. After about 30 mins, i felt overpowered on full power and wanted to do one final kite-loop, before de-power (I hate de-power, when it comes to jumping, the kite always feels sluggish and less predictable…or maybe I am just scared to throw it around) , this one yanked so hard, my board almost knocked my head. I landed soooo out of control, so decided to de-power and just do jumps, (I did not care what Ruben Lenten thought).

I had some nice really really high jumps that carry almost over the width of the lagoon, but the landings sucked. Not enough diving in the kite. - By now I was full de-power on the kite and on the last knot on the bridal and it was still wild. - So I thought, just down loop hard before you land. This worked well until I got too cool and down looped slower and slower (to get an even smoother landing), finally being yanked into a forward summersault, just before I landed, straight through the lines. As I lay in the water, (the hairs on the back of my neck started tingling???) knowing this kite is going to relaunch soon, i though, get hold of the safety now. I felt for it, but also felt a line on the bar and then I knew….., welcome to the death loop. I was prepared, but man it came so much quicker and harder than I thought, as I travelled through the air I pulled the safety (which I should have done while still in the water) and I thought to myself, no wonder people die when this happens. As I landed my hand was on the release safety and I said out loud…give me half a change and you are gone my beloved SBLADE. (Luckily the new 2014 safety works better than previous years, but I had un winded the centre lines every time, so not sure how it will work if not). I swam out, took a couple of minutes to get he kite under control and landed, redid the lines and went looking for my board. Found it in the sea (tide was going out) and though - hey nice time for a wave session….by now the clouds were ominous, dark and spitting, with the wind out of control. 

I played…..no wait ……..held on for dear life in the waves, until I caught a great wave, jumped high, some how re entered the wave and after that made a bee line for the landing site. …….BUT ON THE WAY THERE………..every time I jumped and was just about to land I heard this funny clicking sound. I did a couple more jumps and every time the same sound…..so I thought, man my left ankle must have gone, (a couple of years ago I fin cut my calf so I have no feeling in my left ankle and also had some hard slams earlier and maybe I was a bit delirious). So I decided to land toe side (on my right foot), only to hear the same sound, but this time also feeling a shock….. Just then I saw my friend about to launch his kite, so I kicked out and skidded on the sand towards him, gave him the heads up of the wind, current, tide and waves and went back to the water, on the way there also jumping a little bit, without a board as some of us do:-( but as soon as I was close to the ground heard and felt the same sensations…….like you are being….. shocked….duh. So I thought, maybe I was stung by an electric eel;-), or maybe blue bottles stings are clouding my judgement……. I was still contemplating this when my friend launched his kite…..and I looked at his kite and I looked at the sky and looked at the kite and looked at the sky….all dark and thundeeeeeerrrryyyy. Hallllloooooo…….RULE 20 …….NO KITING IN LIGHTNING. The sounds I was hearing and the shock sensations I was feeling were obviously the static being relayed from the kite to the ground/water! Holy smokes. I immediately gave my friend the cut throat sign, but he was too exited…the wind is pumping. Normally on light wind you can land the SB perfectly, without it doing the big old N on you. In stronger winds it takes a bit more planning, but I did not care now ----- New kite or not ….rather a tear than ashes to ashes and dust to dust. It looked like it was a sweet landing but then did the Switchblade N'd perfectly and slammed hard onto the sand - much to my relief. I ran over to my friend and told him to land now, which he did……and there we stood as we saw the light (ning) and heard thunder above the roar of the waves………….Bummer for my friend - he had driven 300kms for a kite…he said it was the closest he ever came to kite and then did not. I felt bad for him, but did not tell him that I have this recurring dream, either I am on the way to kite, but never get there or, just as I am about to kite a line snaps, my eyes are full of sand and I cant tie a knot… Instead I just said "at least we are alive and have another chance tomorrow………."

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Comment by Craig Allsopp on December 23, 2013 at 11:09

Great story Timo.   We get quite a few storms up here in KZN and I have had a few incidents like yours.   When it gets real ominous and you know what is coming.   Get the hell out of the water!!

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