How to survive and recover from a death looping kite

Kiteboarding
Death loops: learn how to regain control of your kite | Photo: Shutterstock

Death loop accidents are occasional events in which a kiteboarder gets seriously hurt or even dies after not being able to stop an uncontrolled kite loop.

Whenever a kite enters a death loop, riders have two choices: to regain control of their kite or to use the quick release system.

The death loop occurs when riders don't release their kite or simply don't have a chance to activate the safety mechanism.

But why does it happen?

One of the most common situations is when the central depower line gets wrapped around the control bar resulting in an uncontrolled kite loop.

When it happens, you will not be able to activate the quick release system because the safety line is also blocked and entangled.

"In fact, activating the quick release can make it even worse. When the bar gets away from you, it will make it impossible to fly a kite manually and to untangle the lines," explains veteran kiteboarding instructor Anton Chernyshov.

"Simultaneously, the kite will remain powered. So, the only thing left to do is to activate the safety leash quick release, in case you can reach and have some practice doing so."

Kite control bar: when it gets away from you during a death loop, make sure to activate the safety leash quick release | Photo: Shutterstock

The Worst Case Scenario

However, there's another unpleasant example that might take place.

It's when one of the steering lines wraps around the harness hook. The kite starts looping with the control system stuck tightly to the harness.

In this scenario, you cannot activate the quick release since your control bar is not able to fly away.

So, how can you fix that without injuring yourself or losing your life?

Whenever your kite enters a death loop, and you notice the safety system is blocked, make sure you force your kite to stall by grabbing and pulling hard on the furthest steering line.

It actually works, even if the kite was fully powered just a few moments ago.

"You may also pull the tensioned steering line, but it is much harder to do," adds Chernyshov.

Kite: if you experience a death loop in shallow waters, grab its leading edge and get back to the beach | Photo: Shutterstock

Recovering, Relaunching and Self-Rescue

Once the kite lost his power, it's time to analyze your options.

If possible, untangle the lines, check if the bar is working correctly, and relaunch your kite when you're ready.

Once the kite is flying, untwist your lines and resume riding.

"In case you are unsure about your lines, or you have obstacles around you, think about activating the self-rescue procedures," states Anton Chernyshov.

Finally, and if you're standing in shallow waters, you can always just walk toward the kite, holding the steering line, until you grab its leading edge.

Remember that the kite knife is not always the best solution. It may not be practical, and it may not work with thicker lines.

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