Rules of the Road

Stay safe on the Ocean!

The world of kitesurfing is growing fast, whilst this is a great thing in most respects; like minded people hanging out in cool kite spots, making new friends, sharing laughs and smiles, there's one small downside to this newfound popularity.

Busier beaches and kiting spots make the chances of a collision or a tangle on the beach far higher. Take Tarifa for example, in peak summer nowadays there can be over 1000 kites on Playa de Los Lances and with newcomers to the sport each season it's important to know the rules applied so as to stay out of danger and out of trouble. The wind can be very unpredictable and very dangerous so you have to respect it at all times.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe when setting up, and also to keep you safe out there on the water. Some of these lessons we have definitely had to learn the hard way!

Setting Up!

1. Assess conditions - what is the weather doing? Is it within my comfort limits? Do I have the right size kite / equipment? What hazards are around me? These are all the questions you should be asking yourself before preparing to kite. If you are a little unsure, ask fellow kiters on the beach. See what size kites they are using and how they are riding, don't be afraid to ask questions and leave your ego in the car park.

2. Find space to set up - we know how exciting it can be when you first get to the beach and want to head out into the ocean. Try and take some time to find some space on the beach. It will make preparing and launching your kite a lot less stressful and will be a lot safer if you accidentally tangle a line. Remember to always run your lines downwind from your kite when setting up. This prevents you accidentally tugging at a line and your kite shooting into the sky when you least expect.

3. Pre flight check - to avoid the infamous and very embarrassing line tangle, which can have you being dragged face first across the beach with everyone watching. Ensure you always do a pre flight check. This includes checking all your safety releases for correct function or simply as a refresher. Double checking your lines are clear and not tangled. Double check your kite is holding air before launching.

4. Get another kiter to help you launch, don't be afraid to ask, it takes somebody 2 seconds to help and is a lot safer than trying to launch yourself.

Right of way (ROW)

Now you've got your kite in the air you're ready to go ride with your friends and have an epic session. Let's make sure it's epic by not colliding with another kiter. Here are a few simple but golden rules when kiting & especially crucial in busy spots like Cape Town, Tarifa & Dakhla.

First and foremost before entering the water, ask the locals and become aware of local rules. Most busy kite spots have entry / exit points, teaching areas and freeride areas. The easiest way to avoid an accident is to find space in the ocean... trust me there is enough of it out there in the big blue. But we all know everyone likes to show off every now and then, so here are a few rules to help you stay safe out there.

1. The Golden Rule! Upwind (into the wind) kite high (12 o'clock) Downwind (with the wind) kite low (2 or 10 o'clock)

2. The rider on the 'starboard tack' the one riding to the right with their right foot forward, has the right of way and can maintain their line. Meaning if you are riding to the left, you must alter your direction, usually by going down wind of them and lowering your kite to avoid them.

3. However, this rule does not apply to riders entering the water from land. This is common sense really, land hurts a lot more than water so give way and give space to anyone entering the water so they can get their session underway.

4. Kiters riding on waves, whether up wind or down wind, starboard or port tack have right of way regardless, you shouldn't interfere with them riding that wave. Hopefully by the time anyone is playing in the big waves these rules are well ingrained in the mind.

5. If jumping make sure you have enough clear space down wind of you... it is very hard to change direction in the middle of the air. This is all about spatial awareness when preparing for a jump.

6. Heading back to the beach- this can sometimes get a little messy, trick is to simply wait for a nice space where you can approach the shore, take your board off and land your kite in a controlled manner.

Stick to these rules and we are confident you'll have an awesome time out there on the water!