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Event site jet-ski rescue 8/8 - thank you!

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Since 20 Aug 2020
14 Posts

PostSun Aug 08, 21 6:43 pm    Event site jet-ski rescue 8/8 - thank you! Reply with quote

Special thanks to all the assistance I received from so many helpful and friendly folks at the sandbar and on the river. I was the stranded kiter with the orange 10M on the north side of the river today.

Details may be a bit fuzzy for me but I can re-cap what I think happened. For reference, I'm a second-year kiter and have recently progressed to improving my transitions and am tacking upwind well.

At the start of my sessions it takes me a couple tacks to really set my edge and control the power and my speed. I haven't ventured far into the channel much, but today there was a rider behind me so I went into the channel waiting for them to make their tack back. I felt a huge amount of power, lost or couldn't control my edge and skidded out towards Washington. The skid ended as I was lifted, spun around in the air and tea-bagged in the river. With my kite at 12 another gust lifted me even higher, I let go of the bar and plopped head-first into the water. My kite was still in the air, but I had a couple of loops in the lines and saw the kite diving again, so I pulled the quick release and the kite dropped immediately.

I considered my options to try and water restart after un-tangling, un-twisting vs doing a full self rescue. During the un-tangling one of my steering lines was around my chicken loop and I couldn't get it free. As I drifted towards White Salmon it was time to wind up the lines and self-rescue.

Within minutes several kiters and checked I was ok, one of them found my board, and Bob and Kai came to the rescue on the jet-ski. Hilarity ensued as we tried to fit 3 dudes and a kite on a small craft in some big swell. It's only funny now, but Bob and Kai deserve special thanks for risking their well-being to help me out. It wasn't the easiest rescue for them and I can't thank them enough and I'm glad everything went ok, I believe.

Questions I'm having right now -

Is the channel significantly stronger wind speeds than the sand-bar upwind area? I think I pulled the release at the right time, but with more experience, would someone try and get control of the kite in that situation? Was 10M too much kite for this afternoon?

I'm continually humbled by the spirit of all the folks on the water and the generosity of others to help out a guy in need.

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Since 20 May 2011
150 Posts
Portland, OR

PostMon Aug 09, 21 4:12 am     Reply with quote

I was also on a 10m Sunday at the Event Site. Sometimes it was a bit much, sometimes not enough, sometimes just right. One of the challenges at the ES, is the varying wind speed on different places on the river. Usually I find it stronger near the WA side than the sandbar, although it seems to drop significantly if you get too close to the WA side.

It sounded like you used your quick release after you lost control. Makes sense to me. You could use the kite to “sail” back to the OR side after your self rescue, but it might take a while and would not be much fun.

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Since 12 Jan 2009
229 Posts

PostMon Aug 09, 21 9:06 am     Reply with quote

there are rather distinct wind areas on the water.

my quick cheat sheet:
channel is always windier than above the sand bar. in kite size usually at least 1m different. often more, rarely less. Most pronounced difference is in the wells island channel, IMO.

black hole against washington east of the white salmon bridge, made worse by downdrafts from the white salmon bluff

wind is lightest just above the sandbar, then gets stronger as you do directly upwind until the city park. then gets chaotic due to the well island wind shadow. seams between this area and the stronger wind in the channel can be extra punchy some days. you won't see many people in is this area.

wind above the sandbar is riddled with shifting lines of deep lulls. these fade out the higher you go, until they meet that wells island wind shadow. they are usually easily visible.

above the sandbar there can be pockets of decent wind, but they tend to smaller and shift. often there is a fairly narrow ribbon of good wind running down the oregon side from the park to the upper event site jetty.

everyone has their own strategies for dealing with the variable wind. all involve catching a puff off the sand and tacking as far up wind as fast as possible, avoiding ribbons of lulls as much as possible. Weaving past the lessons and land traffic on the first tack is the most important.

HR has reliable wind, but that does not mean it is smooth or consistent wind.

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Marcus O

Since 30 May 2018
98 Posts


PostMon Aug 09, 21 10:04 am     Reply with quote

By "loops in the lines" do you mean your lines were twisted due to rotating under your kite? If so you didn't need to pop the chicken loop. You could have rotated the bar to untwist the lines. To answer your question about wind in the channel - on a westerly the river current adds a bit of apparent wind speed since it's pulling you against the wind. The wind is usually a bit stronger out there and much cleaner the further upwind you go. On an easterly you have the opposite effect where the downwind current will cause you to lose a bit of power.

One tip for dealing with people riding right behind you is to learn how to downloop your kite. Add the downloop to a jibe or toeside transition and you won't have to swing your kite back across the wind window. Best to learn downloops on a lighter day when you're slightly underpowered, usually starting with a downloop water start. Start with small fast loops with the kite at 12 since they produce less power and be sure to commit to the loop. If you decide to bail on the loop half way through you'll either crash your kite or produce a much larger more powerful loop which can cause you to get yarded if you're not ready for it. Also be sure there's nothing/nobody downwind of you incase that does happen.

The other option is to ride a bit downwind of the person tailgating you so you have more room to steer your kite but then you can't high five them when you're riding back the other way Laughing

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Since 21 Jun 2015
444 Posts
White Salmon

PostMon Aug 09, 21 11:49 am     Reply with quote

This might have been a case of premature ejeculation. It happens. Things get hairy and you hit the quick release. Everything stops (mostly). The down side is the kite isn't going to fly again. The bar and lines turn into a mess, you need to get right into self rescue mode. Game over. except for the whole self rescue ordeal.

If you can, get the board first. Then deal with the kite.

I try to fly the kite, no matter if the lines are crossed, twisted, unbalanced...if I can get it up and flying it'll get me home. If it won't fly, its time to wrap it up. If your lines are already so twisted from death spiral loops or lines wrapped around the bar and the kite is dragging you, the quick release is a sad joke, because the kite won't be able to flag to one line. You just bought a couple feet of leash. You need to go up the lines and get hold of just one, preferably front line (this is why I insist on color coded lines). get all the tension on that one line, the kite will flag. now deal with the mess before you get wrapped up in slack lines. If its really windy, just get the kite in hand.

At this point, I try to leash the kite at the pump loop. I carry an extra leash so I can leash kite and board.

Organize the mess of bar and lines as best you can, get the wing tips and decide which side you are going to land on. Lay out and try to relax and rest while the kite drags you to shore.

There's tons of variables, of course. Somebody tangles you on the beach and you might get yarded? yeah, cut it loose! No body to land you and it too scary to self land? punch out.

My main point is, out on the water, I'll stick with trying to get the kite working, and I've never had better than a self rescue come out of a failed chicken loop or quick release. Waiting out lulls, swimming towards wind, waiting for a lull if its getting scary..flying it home with the lines inverted because the kite might not be pretty, but it faster than swimming.

The event site has some of the gustiest, streaky, crowded conditions in the gorge. It's a tough place to cut your teeth. Hang in there.

I got to self rescue Tuesday at the WS bridge when my front lines/depower decided to part ways with my bar. No chance that was going to fly, and I was happy to see the flagging line working. wrapped up, drug to the submerged WS sand bar and was up on 14 looking for a way home in half and hour.

I use the "I'm on the phone", hand to the ear sign rather than the thumb out hitchhiker sign. Guy stopped and let me use his phone to call for a ride. Man, lotta windsurfers cruised right on by a guy in in a wetsuit, with a foil board and a rolled up kite....

Pull the cork.

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Since 20 Aug 2020
14 Posts

PostMon Aug 09, 21 5:57 pm     Reply with quote

Great advice, which is what I was looking for after posting. I had a similar thought as soon as I was self-rescuing in the channel. Like 'I pulled my release and I'm immediately not in trouble but now I can't use my kite to get anywhere helpful, and I'm still not completely safe.'

It all happened so fast, really incredible and humbling. To rethink again I may have tried to get control of the kite one more try even while getting lofted. Maybe it felt worse than it looked - hard to tell.

Where do you carry an extra leash?

Thank you for all the thoughts and suggestions, like the downwind turn advice - eventually I will learn the down-loops.

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Since 22 Mar 2008
259 Posts
Da Hood

PostFri Aug 13, 21 9:07 pm    Down loop transition is your friend Reply with quote

Down loop transition was the first advance thing i learned. Super useful in Hood River. Not scary at at, once learned, you’ll use it all the time. Hope you got your board back, I left it on the Sandbar. There was a woman struggling with it so I took it to the sand. Was concerned you got to it before someone else did.
As long as your not being drug by the kite, and no Barges are about to run you over. Keep trying to relaunch your kite, it can get you back across the river. When you have to make the decision roll up. Doit before you touch land, make that taco and ride it back across. It will take a while. Self rescue is slow. The current and wind will take you the slow way home

CGKA Member

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Since 13 Mar 2012
657 Posts


PostSat Aug 14, 21 7:34 pm     Reply with quote

Singlemalt wrote:

I got to self rescue Tuesday at the WS bridge when my front lines/depower decided to part ways with my bar. No chance that was going to fly, and I was happy to see the flagging line working. wrapped up, drug to the submerged WS sand bar and was up on 14 looking for a way home in half and hour.

1st - I thought Singlemalt's post was dead on.

2nd - I was curious about your self rescue Singlemalt...
Sounds like the Depower line either broke or the end knot slipped through (perhaps the grab handle stripped off).

Wondering what happend so I have a sense of what to check for on some of my old bars.

Additionally, wondering if perhaps you could have used your backup leash to connect to your front lines and ride back home? Just a thought... I've never actually tried it.

Kiting starts at 40MPH

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Since 21 Jun 2015
444 Posts
White Salmon

PostSun Aug 15, 21 2:14 pm    self rescue and what went wrong Reply with quote

To answer some great questions, here's a little more info and my thoughts, fwiw. This was Tuesday, 8/3 over by the White Salmon bridge. It was windy.

About the extra leash, I have a reel leash hanging on the back strap/grab handle of my Dakine Nitrous board short style harness. ($10 at a swap!) It has another 3' elastic webbing bungie thing with clips on both ends hooked to the end of the reel leash and the other end is clipped on my spreader hook. I could leash up to three items.

I'm only foiling now, so some of this is more geared to foiling, but being able to get a leash on my board whilst dealing with a kite issue is a huge help. The foil will get going downwind and pick up speed as it settles into the swell. Not an issue if the kite comes up quickly, but if it's not going to relaunch, I won't be able to catch it and deal with the kite. This is how foils escape. Other than Stringy and Tak, not many guys can pick up a foil and carry it anywhere. (See my April kite mare posting "Dress for the swim")

So my first though is to get the foil on a leash. Works for any board. I've leashed the foil while dealing with stuff like the depower wrapping around the bar, or accidental unhooking where the bar was yanked away. Sometimes I'll get lucky and be able to get things sorted without a self rescue. Nice to know I have the board to ride away.

Once I had the foil under control, I went up the flag line, probably 50' before I got to the bar. I was coiling the flag up as I went to keep from getting lines around me or the foil. This wasn't one of those pretty bar wrapping self rescues, I had a wad of flag line in one hand when I got to the bar, and three loose lines all up by the kite, Fun size swell, blowing upwards of 30, kite jumping around...and the foil kept bumping me on the helmet.

One picture shows the state of my bar by the time I had the mess semi under control and the kite leashed. It wasn't going to fly again. Got the wingtips and let the kite carry me to the sand bar, foil towing right along.

The bar is a Liquid Force mission control, bought used at a swap. I probably had 5-6 sessions on it. I had inspected it carefully before I bought it, and it looked good. (rolling the dice on used gear, I know) I can't resist a swap.

The problem was something I couldn't see. So this might be of interest to you folks riding bars with the plastic tube covered depower designs. This was the first time I've used a bar like this. I thought it was pretty cool. I doubt I'll ever buy another.

second picture:you see the depower cleat block and stopper ball at the top of the green tubing. Below the block, left side of the picture, a Y where two ends of one line are spliced together, one of them is the break. That is a loop of line that runs up and down an internal channel inside the tubing. This loop takes all the load of the front lines. You can't see it when the bar is assembled. It is the only structural thing between the rotating head at the chicken loop, and the depower/trim cleat block at the top of the tube.

The flagging line runs from the low V swivel through the large part of the tube to the leash ring.

The long splice joining the two ends of the loop are sewn into the fat depower/trim systen line on the right. I have a chunk of rope in there to hold its shape. Where the fat line and the loop are sewn together, right at the top of the cleat block, there's an added piece of black webbing sewn on. Super clean looking system. But you can't inspect or see wear on the loop. And there are the metal edges of the depower cleat. That's were it failed.

I'm hoping Airtime can help me out with some new line and the stitching. A fix with new lines will probably last for years.

Going forward, I'll stick with bars that are easier to inspect for wear, and have easily replaceable depower systems. Unless it's cheap at the swap meet. Rolling Eyes

Last CGW2 swap of the year on Sept 5, 8 am Lot 1. See ya there!


Pull the cork.

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