How to Survive a Death Looping Kite

"What if you’ve done a silly thing, and let your lines get caught up,
and now you are dragging across the sand, water, rocks etc on your
face. Your kite is stuck in a never-ending loop, what do you do? "

Kiteboarding is dangerous, but you knew that! Whether it’s from personal experience or from watching ‘kitemare’ videos online, every kiteboarder knows about the ‘death loop’. But if it happened to you, could you get yourself out of it? Death looping kites have killed experienced kiteboarders, so spending a few minutes practicing some scenarios, might just save your life.

First, how do kites get into ‘death loop’ situations? It’s all about the lines, in particular, slack lines or the rider putting slack into them, by pulling too hard. When a line wraps around the bar end, or harness hook, it creates potential for a death loop situation, and there’s a couple of ways it can happen.

1: A rear line gets wrapped around your own harness hook.
2: Any line gets wrapped around the bar end.
3: The centerline gets wrapped around the bar end.

Now if you think about all three scenarios above, each can only happen by letting a line go slack, or pulling it very hard towards yourself. Try to avoid getting lines anywhere near your harness, and when relaunching, don’t ‘dump’ the lines by letting them go as the kite gets airborne. Slowly release the line in a controlled manner, to avoid the line getting wrapped around the bar tip.

But what if you’ve done a silly thing, and let your lines get caught up, and now you are dragging across the sand, water, rocks etc on your face. Your kite is stuck in a never-ending loop, what do you do?

As always, your first option should be to release your quick release. In many cases, this will fix the problem. It also gives you a chance to completely release the kite with your leash quick release too, making it the safest option available. Some cases however, like where an outside line gets stuck on your harness hook, the quick release is useless!

Anton Chernyshov has an interesting technique for this situation, which might just save you if it happens to you! Check out his instructional video to see how he stops the kite instantly, by pulling on the other rear line, to back stall the kite into the water. It’s extremely effective in his situation, in light winds, and not necessarily something you’d think of in a pressure situation.

Remember, grabbing lines is risky business! Always assess your situation, and if you think the quick release will work, try that first, or completely release the kite!


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