Kitesurfing: learn before you go

More than 83% of kitesurfing related off shore rescue missions in Cape Town, South Africa, were attributed to inability to detach the kite from the harness. These are the results of a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and conducted by six researchers.

The aim of the study is to provide more information on the frequency, pattern, and severity of kite surfing related injuries.The observation period for this study started on October 1, 2003 and ended on May 1, 2004 and included 30 air rescue missions.

Data and information were collected prospectively. The Air Mercy Service in Cape Town Province responded to 30 requests for help. Injuries occurred in five incidents and included fractures of the upper arm, ribs and ankle, and lacerations and contusions to the head and neck.

Two patients, out of 30, suffered from hypothermia and one experienced severe exhaustion. All surfers were rescued successfully and there were no fatal accidents.

Researchers believe the risk potential of kiteboarding is unclear. Dangerous situations can occur despite proper training and safety precautions due to unpredictable conditions and difficulties with equipment.

Safety should be stressed. Surfers should sailing with a fellow kiter and should wear a life vest. More efforts must be taken to make this booming new water sport safer.