I have written this guide on how to kite winter frontal winds in Melbourne, with a strong emphasis on safety.
These winter winds are very variable, so great caution is needed when choosing to go kitesurfing. It is definitely not the season for beginners.
A word of warning: strong gusts can overpower you and send you airborne with very serious consequences. You can wreck your gear, get seriously injured, or even lose your life. If in doubt, don't go out.
Good work mate and spot on. Get the message out. It is a bit of a worry the number of beginners who go out in these frontal conditions not understanding the consequences.
Most squalls come in from the west. You can usually see them. A good rule of thumb is that if the ships parked out past Fawkner Beacon disappear into the gloom then take evasive action.
It's good to check Laverton and Avalon as well.
You need to get out of the water before the squall hits, or head well out to sea away from hard things that will kill you. It is very bad to try and land on the beach in the middle of a squall. It's probably better to land the kite on the water and possibly release to the safety leash if necessary.
The squall itself can miss you but the gust front can still blast you from the side of the storm cell.
The only thing I'd add is to keep your kite low if a squall hits. Worst case you get dragged side ways but its heaps better than being picked up in the air and thrown into buildings. If you're not sure if a squall is coming through and you're too far out to ditch your kite, keep it low to the water and ride with one hand on your safety so you can ditch the kite as soon as you need it.
I've been through two squalls. One inland that put a girl in a coma after she was lofted. I was fortunate enough to be well out on the water when it hit (no warning) and managed to survive after pulling my safety when I got lofted about 5m up. She was unfortunate enough to be on land and her and the guy holding the back of her harness were both lifted up in the air and she came down on her head. Coma for a month but she recovered. This happened on old style C kites so we didn't have any leeway and the squall hit with no warning, no clouds etc.
The second one hit when I was out at Brighton. 45 knots on a 2nd gen bow kite without warning. Kept my kite on the water at max depower and it was still strong enough to drag me all the way into shore standing on my board so the idea of complete depower is bull. I was stupid enough to not pull my QR immediately but survived without mishap as someone grabbed my kite the I got to shore. If you think the 45 knots is bull, some guy on a 9m pulled his QR because he was lofted in the squall.
Good stuff .. there's also a few extra words from others folks posts we've collected here:
Thanks guys. I have added a section incorporating your suggestions: What to do if you get caught in a bad gust
Hey Saffer, I'm fascinated by your tales of the two squalls. I've been kiting for about 7 years now and haven't ever seen anything that vicious (apart from a honking 50 knots down at Sandy point but thats a different story...). Lucky me by the sounds of things.
Was there anything unusual about those days to look out for ? Any forecast changes or fronts coming through - or just freaks of nature ? Trying to make sure I can do this for at least another 7 years !
There were all sorts of horrible things going down in the early days of kiting. The kites had such little range. People were taking out the power lines on Beach Rd almost every week and tea-bagging was common even without squalls.
A guy was hit by a squall at Brighton Yacht Club and deposited in the back yard of one of the houses.
That's almost impossible with modern kites.
Advice is all good.
Also people need to be wary that just because some kiters stay out in the midst of a storm does not mean you should. If in doubt go in and do it early (being close to beach when it hits is bad news as already said).
Remember the other kiters could be thinking the same as you i.e. no one else is going in so i am right.
Been caught a few times myself. Most of the time I knew better and had ample time to land before it hit.
BTW I noticed over time Saffer your posts are nearly always quality. Cheers for contribution.