This page is dedicated to kitesurfing general safety, technical information and awareness. Keep Chicago a safe place to kitesurf! Know these safety practices and right-of-way rules. If you are seen doing something wrong, you may be asked to leave the beach! An accident to an innocent bystander is plenty of reason to ban kiteboarding in the Chicago area. For everyone’s safety and enjoyment, study these common practices at most locations around the world. By knowing and implementing these practices, visiting kiteboarders will already be familiar with them…so will others, if you travel abroad to another kitesurfing location.
General Kitesurfing Safety Practices
- Check your equipment carefully before launching for any weaknesses. (lines, harness straps, trim rope, leaders, etc.)
- Avoid obstructing the way of others or cluttering any area with grounded kites, lines or boards. Be considerate of the beach area around you. Less equipment clutter will also minimize risk.
- Absolutely do not ride in swim areas and be aware of other water users.
- A safety release and leash must be used, prior to launching any water-launchable kite.
- Indicate to others when you want to land or ground your kite by using the proper kitesurfing safety signal.
- Yield to any windsurfer, pedestrian or swimmer, and to any watercraft that has the right-of-way (see below). Do so immediately avoiding any possible contact with yourself, the kite or lines.
- Grounded kites must be sufficiently weighted (sand, kiteboard if available, etc.) to offset strong gusts and if unattended, the kite should be disabled by disconnecting the flying-lines from one side.
- Land kites with assistance whenever possible and offer assistance without reservation whenever possible, especially in populated or cluttered areas. If forced to self-recover, downing kites in shallow water is often safer than on land. In either case, ensure the entire downwind windwindow is clear.
- Riders must yield to everyone when jumping, maneuvering, or riding on port tack (left hand forward).
- Incoming riders must give way to those launching, and lesser experienced riders that may cause conflict with your path.
Other Important Safety Considerations
- Consider using a Personal Floatation Device (PFD vest).
- Wear sunscreen, a rash guard, and stay well hydrated.
- Only kiteboard as far from shore as you are able to swim. If your kite downs, or a line snaps, you must swim.
- Learn and practice self-rescues so you are more prepared for any situation that may arise.
- Avoid riding alone at all costs, especially in frigid water.
- Always let someone know your planned return time and what beach you will be at. If wind conditions change and your location changes, leave a message indicating your new launch beach.
- Consider using brightly colored lines, kites, and other gear so you are as visible as possible.
Kitesurfing Right of Way
Note: Always use proper judgement and give up your right-of-way by yielding to anyone, or anything, that may appear to create a situation with your position, or upcoming position.
Note: Right hand forward while riding is Starboard Tack (and generally has right-of-way).
Left hand forward is Port Tack.
When two kiteboarders converge in a way that may lead to a collision, the kiteboarder on port tack must give way to the kiteboarder on starboard tack. Starboard tack has right of way in this situation.
When two kiteboarders converge, and they are on the same tack, the kiteboarder most upwind must give way to the kiteboarder most downwind. The leeward kiteboarder has right of way in this situation.
When two kiteboarders converge in a way that may lead to the kites colliding, the upwind kiteboarder must fly their kite as high as possible, and the downwind kiteboarder must fly their kite as low as possible.
A kiteboarder must give way to anyone they are overtaking. The kiteboarder being overtaken has the right of way, and is responsible for maintaining course while being overtaken.
Always give right of way to anyone who enters the 200′ safety zone downwind of you.