Windsurfing Safety TipsGeneral Safety notes for Windsurfing
Learnings from a debrief with Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC) in Victoria regarding a Nanaimo windsurfing incident where a windsurfer was left to drift from Pipers to Gabriola.
It was useful to go through the incident and see it from the eyes of JRCC. What it came down to was that, besides the windsurfer on the beach who called it in, there had been another person who reported a windsurfer in distress who later reported that the person was under way again and doing fine. In addition, they received confirmations from two other sources, a dive boat and the light keeper that they could not see anyone in distress and that the windsurfers they could see were all doing fine.
My own learnings:
- Make the call to JRCC regardless of how many other people might have called. In fact, if another guy calls, make a point of calling yourself. The more calls they get the more likely they are to conclude that there is someone in distress.
- Do not rely on relaying information through anyone. There is no better way to convey information than talking directly as possible with JRCC and give them as exact information as possible, as shown below.
Information to include:
- your name and phone number
- as precise a location as possible of the person in distress and what direction they are heading
- what the person is doing, wearing, describe their gear. Remind them that in distress a person might leave the sail behind and may not be able to stand on the board.
- how long they have been struggling
- the location for other sailors who are out there so they are not confused with the one in distress. This is important! Don't let them mistake those who are doing fine with those who are not!
- make sure you convey your experience level and if you had been out sailing yourself so that they can appropriately gauge the veracity of your information. Remember, they get all kinds of folks calling for non-events.
- the conditions including wind, current and sea state
- anything about the sailor: name, vehicle, phone, from where, skill level,
- if anyone else had tried to reach or rescue the sailor
Many sails have similar colours so be as specific on this point as possible. If there are other similar coloured sails on the water, let them know that. The other concerned citizen thought they saw the person in trouble get up again however I believe that it was one of us with a "blue and red" sail who tried to go out to find the sailor in distress. If there seems to be any confusion about the situation you will need to take some action. Get others to corroborate your information, be as precise as possible in your details. Call again. Be willing to be stubborn. If they get details from someone they trust more that you (lighthouse keeper) saying the guy is okay, you are going to need to convince them otherwise. The only proof that the person is rescued is someone talking to them. If your spidey senses are going off, insist on some proof that the person is fine.
We talked about precautionary measures including cellphones, VHFs, PLBs and flares. I will leave you to discuss and decide on these yourselves.
My hope is that next time JRCC might now have some background/knowledge/sensitivity to better judge information being provided from a fellow windsurfer who is in a position to provide very dependable information.
- Take heed of Kus' suggestions for playing safe. If this guy had needed serious help it would have arrived too late.
- phone numbers for JRCC in Victoria: #727 (cell), 250-413-8933, 800-567-5111
- A forceful intervention on the beach is better than a drift to Gabe any day.
History of Vancouver Island Sailboarding
Nitinat Safety GuideKite sailing / windsurfing site user guide
Written April 14 2001 - To interested parties.
It has become apparent to me that we are going to see an increase in the number of kite surfers on the Lake this year. Many of our members (including myself) have taken up kite surfing. Some of us will use it as a low wind alternative and some will take up kite surfing exclusively. The sport will also attract new individuals to that don’t have a windsurfing or sailing background. We should take the time to learn how both groups of sailors operate so as to limit or negate any negative interaction.
Here is the outline of a "Kite Surfing/Windsurfer User Guide" that we are developing for Nitinat. Hopefully it will evolve as required to meet the needs of both user groups. The suggestions are a result of talking to kite surfers, my own personal experiences and the experiences of other local windsurfers that have taken up kite surfing. Ross Harrington and I have worked together to developed the "User Guide" Ross represented the kite surfers’ interests in the development process and I represented the windsurfers’ interests. If these guidelines are followed, both groups should easily be able to co-exist on Nitinat Lake. Both Ross and I would like to strongly urge both windsurfers and kite surfers to adopt these guidelines.
ON THE BEACH
|Don’t launch or land your kite in front of the main campsite or the campsites downwind (toward village) of the point/day park area. These areas are typically frequented by windsurfers, families, children and swimmers.||Maintain using the traditional launch/landing area in front of the camp.|
Launch or land above the campsite (to be marked by a flag on a pole) or below the campsite (to be marked by a flag on a pole).
When launching up wind of the site leave lots of room for safety.
|Be aware that kites will be launching up wind of the campsite and or landing down wind of the site. Provide kite surfers plenty of room to do so.|
|Take time to show anyone who is interested, how to safely launch and land your kite. Getting knowledgeable help from others will greatly reduce the chance of accidents and make life easier for you.||Don’t become involved in launching or landing a kite unless you have been shown what to do. Launching and landing a kite is the most dangerous part of kite surfing. Never stand downwind of a kite that is in the process of launching or landing.|
|Don’t practice fly your kite or trainer in the area in front of the campsite. Respect the fact that windsurfers’ need to have a safe area to launch and land without having to watch for kites.|
|Pay special attention to kids when launching or landing your kite. Kids love kites but don’t understand the dangers. If in doubt delay launching your kite.|
ON THE WATER
|Don’t try to "pinch" out windsurfers on the same or opposite tack. If you see a windsurfer trying to pass above, let them, and make it obvious to them that you see them.||Try to pass up wind of a kite that is on the same or opposite tack. If you can’t pass up wind make a definite turn to pass the kite surfer down wind and give them more space than a windsurfer.|
|If you are in the water with the kite down do you best to make it obvious to other sailors where you are, where your kite is, and where your lines are.||If you see a kite down in the water in front of you, immediately locate the kite surfer in the water and pass above the sailor and the kite or below the sailor and the kite. NEVER pass between a kite in the water and the kite surfer. If in doubt as to the location of the kite and or sailor, gybe or tack away.|
|If you are learning to kite surf start your body drags at the river mouth and end them before the campsite. If you miss coming in above the campsite, drag all the way past before coming in.||Pay special attention to learners who are body dragging. They do not have the ability to sail up wind or even broad reach. Often they do not have great kite control. Give them some extra space.|
|If you are a proficient kite surfer don’t spend all your time sailing right in front of the site. Sail in some of the lesser-used areas of the lake.||Don’t be afraid to sail with an experienced Kite Sailor. In some respects they have greater control over direction than you do. Depending on style they do not have to gybe.|
FOR KITE BOARDERS IN GENERAL
|Use common sense. If the area is full of people (pay special attention to kids), don’t launch you kite.|
|Talk to local kite boarders, first hand experience goes a long way. Respect your ability.|
|Make sure your kite is secure on the beach. Don’t leave your lines strung out unless you are going to launch. Kite lines unattended create a hazard for other kite boarders and the public.|
|Always launch or land down wind of kites in the air. When on the beach the upwind kite must watch out for (give way to) the downwind kite.|
|When in doubt or out of control, crash the kite in the water. It’s safer for the kite and safer for bystanders.|
|Practice the buddy system when learning. It makes kite boarding easier.|
Paul Betts/Ross Harrington April 2001.