Knowing your hand signals are essential, as when the wind blows and you are in distress it is often impossible to explain to someone exactly what you want them to do. Get to know these signals, send them to all your friends, and get to use them at your local beach as these are the universal kiteboarding hand signals.
iKiteboarding.com spent some time with Jameson Smith, Airush Team rider and IKO instructor from Maui, to get the lowdown on kiteboarding hand signals as used by the IKO to teach students.
While a lot of these hand signals are useful for teaching, all of them can be used to communicate with fellow kiteboarders on the beach. A kiteboarder might be busy getting dragged towards you and you can instruct him to let his bar go immediately, or you might use another signal to ask someone to catch your kite. These signs are good to know as you never know when you might need one of them.
International Marine Distress Signal
Use this signal whenever you are in trouble and need help. This signal is the most identifiable signal, and is common knowledge to the public.
Catch my kite
Use this signal to instruct someone to catch your kite. As the 'catcher' you might want to approve that you will catch the kite, by doing the same back to the kiter who is landing his kite.
Tell someone to put down their kite
Use this signal to instruct someone to put down their kite.
Head out to sea
Use this signal to instruct someone to head out to sea. Often when a student or kiter is heading towards the beach, you can see he is about to put himself and or other people in danger, you instruct him to go out again. This can also be used to show a student to head towards the water now.
Come back in to shore
Use this signal to instruct someone to come back to shore.
Keep your kite high
Use this signal to instruct someone to keep their kite high. This signal can be used in the water too. When you think two kites might collide, you can instruct the other kiter to keep his kite high, and you will keep your kite low, to avoid the kites colliding.
Instruct someone to release their bar
Use this signal to instruct someone to release their bar. Often beginner kiteboarders have a mental block of not wanting to let go of their kites (even when they are in real trouble). Also when your kite is floating in the waves, it is often better to release the bar and let go of the kite completely. This will take the pressure off the kite and the lines, and reduce the chances of your kite (and you) being damaged by a wave breaking on it.