The Global Kitesports Association (GKA) announced the launch of an identification sticker program for kiteboarders.
Every year, hundreds of kiteboarders experience an equipment failure, sudden loss of wind power, and get stranded or lost out at sea.
As a result, national and regional lifeguard teams and ocean rescue services are activated for hours - if not days - in search of potentially lost riders.
"One of the most frequent issues is floating kites in the ocean without kitesurfers attached to them," explains Jorgen Vogt, director of the GKA.
This recurring situation poses problems for rescue teams because any kite in open water signals a drowned or eventually lost kiteboarder.
"Authorities never know if the rider is swimming helplessly somewhere in the ocean or lost at sea. As a result, comprehensive and expensive rescue missions are launched."
"Rescue teams will spend several hours trying to track down the lost kiteboarder, and resources are squandered when the identity of the potential victim goes unknown for extended periods of time."
The increasingly common situation has led to kite bans in some of the world's best kitesurfing spots.
"We want to have a cooperative relationship with water safety and rescue services, but the complaints have increased, and we decided to take action," adds Vogt.
Making Rider's Identification a Safety Standard
The growing problem triggered the development of a new safety standard for the kiteboarding industry - an identification sticker.
The ID sticker is a small rectangle decal featuring the rider's name, phone, and emergency contact.
It can be applied to kites and kiteboards and has extremely useful information for lifeboat search and rescue.
If the rescue teams find a lost kite or board, they will call the kiteboarder to know if he or she is already back on land or if the rescue mission must continue.
The new kiteboarder identification sticker program will also involve manufacturers so that riders can implement it every time they buy new equipment.
"We worked with kitesurfing manufacturers to put a waterproof sticker on any new kite and board so that the owner can immediately write the contact details," concludes Jorgen Vogt.
The new ID sticker will also be available in wind sports stores, and it can be quickly removed from the gear every time the owner sells the kite or board.
Ideally, riders should put the sticker in the middle of the kite's leading edge, but kite companies will help their customers get it right.
Brands committed to adding a frame for the sticker to the front tube for easy placement.
Are you struggling to get back to terra firma? Learn how you can self-rescue and pack down your equipment in an emergency.