Kiteboarding Self Rescue

Through my time kiting I have put myself into some pretty silly situations and have been lucky enough to get myself out of them with all limbs still intact. The one thing that has happened more than anything else especially when I was starting out was my kite coming down and either due to lack of wind or equipment failure I have found myself floating in the water with a downed kite being dragged downwind. This in itself is not a place you want to be for too long for various reasons. Cold water leading to hypothermia, sharks, being dragged out to sea or dragged into rocks and a whole lot of other things too.

If your kite is down you need to get it up or get to it. If getting it up is impossible getting to it has to be done right away or you could find yourself in a tangle of lines with your kite trying to re-launch, not a good place to be. It is possible to get to your kite without this happening though. It is a method taught by the IKO as standard in all their courses and though the best thing is to have an instructor show this to you and then have you do it yourself. I will try to explain the procedure and let the Pics give you an idea of what’s going on.

Once you have let your bar go using hand over hand pull the leash line in.

Most importantly here do not allow the leash line to get wrapped around you at any time!

Continue pulling in the leash line till you get to the knot that your flying line and your leash line is attached.

At this point you should have three lines. The red line is the flying line. Your leash line that you have pulled in and your leader line running to your bar.

If you are using short leader lines with a re-ride system the bar would have been stopped by either a ball or some kind of device to stop the bar riding up all the way to the kite. If you don’t have one, put one there, otherwise it is impossible to get to your bar without the danger of getting tangled in your lines.

Slide the knot or ball between your two fingers on your left hand.

Now while holding the knot/ball in the left hand you can pull your bar towards you.

The reason you keep holding the knot/ball is that as long as you have that between your fingers you will have the kite in a depowerd position by keeping tension on only the leash flying line. This will let the other lines be much longer  and in the event of the kite wanting to take off it will not power up. Even though I have the bar in hand I now have the option of letting the knot/ball go and attempting to relaunch the kite or carrying on with the pack up.

Once you have your bar place it vertically and run the line over the top and push the knot down with your thumb.

Now you wind the tight flying line ONLY around your bar 4 times.

By doing the tight line only, 4 times around the bar, you are making sure that when you start winding the rest of your lines in there is no way that the kite can take off.

Keep your leash line free by placing it over your shoulder but NOT around your neck.

This is pretty tricky to do bit while you are going thru this as long as you understand how and why it works you will be able to do it. The most important thing is not rush it and be aware of where your lines are and don’t let them get wrapped around you at all.

Now that you have the tight line wrapped around the bar 4 times gather all the lines together and wrap them onto your bar while at the same time continuing with the original tight line. What is important is not to forget to wrap the tight line up at the same time otherwise your lines will become equal length again and if the kite powers up your in trouble.

Once you are at the kite tie the lines off around the bar to keep them from unravelling.

If you are being rescued by a boat put your hand underneath your leading edge and deflate your leading edge.

Pull the tip of the kite toward you and place your bar in the tip and you can wrap it in toward the centre strut. As you will be floating in the water while doing this once you’re at your centre strut pull the opposite side of the kite toward you and roll it in ward.

The only time you deflate your kite is if you are being rescued or if you are back on land. The reason for a boat rescue deflation is that the boat crews get knocked overboard when picking the kite up out of the water and the wind causes the kite to power up. So always do a full pack down before handing the kite over.

If you’re far of shore by lying on the leading edge you can use the lines to make a sail that you can trim by using the flying lines that are still attached at the tip, while the kite pulls you in toward the land.

Remember don’t deflate your leading edge or struts until your safe as this is your life raft.

Using this self rescue technique you will come in way down wind but at this stage you just want to get to shore.

While doing the pack down if done like this it doesn’t take long to undo your lines again once you’re on the beach. If they are a bit of a mess don’t worry too much about them while you’re still in the water. As long as there are no lines floating around you in the water and they are wrapped up you can sort them out later.

Important things to remember :

• Try to relaunch your kite before attempting the pack down

• Hold the knot while pulling the bar toward you until the bar is retrieved.

• If you attempt to relaunch after letting your bar go always check that there are no lines wrapped around you first

• When winding your lines up, wind the tight leash LINE AROUND YOUR BAR 4 TIMES FIRST.

• Wind your tight line up as well as the rest of your lines after wrapping the tight line 4 times or the lines will become equal in length and the kite can take off powered.

• Don’t deflate your leading edge until you are safe on land or being picked up by a rescue craft.

• Keep your wrist leash attached to you all the time and only take it off once you have been rescued or you are on land and the kite is secure.

• If the kite powers up while you are in the process of winding your lines in, let go the bar and start again.

• Be aware of any lines that might creep around you are behind you

• Most importantly take your time and be certain about what you are doing.

• If the wind is strong and you are doing a self rescue, hold both tips of the kite together if holding the flying lines is too difficult.


It would be a good idea to run through this once or twice on the beach to see if you can do it.

If you get stuck you can ask me on the forum at

Happy kiting