"If you're going to panic, panic constructively"
One of the best post ever on kiteforum.
Don't Panic, by Chillbay.
Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:42 pm
As an enthusiastic kiter I thought I'd share an experience I had about 25 years ago whilst windsurfing. So a little off topic (windsurfing) but it has relevance even in Kiteboarding. This was before safety releases, harness knives back in the day.
Once upon a time: I was riding a short board, ill-fitting foot straps, hooked in and I was flying. I was following this boat and thought I'd use the wake to help me launch. I thought I was competent, I could jump, carve gybe, duck gybe and so on. So I thought I was in a safe place.
I always respected the ocean, nearly drowned when I was 12 and it's never left me.
Back to the story, I was following the boat and launched off the wake, as I left the water I was hit by a very strong gust, still hooked in the gust ripped the sail out of my hands and I along with board and sail spun in the air. I landed in the water face down with the sail laying on top of me, it all happened so quick I had little time to take a breath.
I remember it now, I'm under the water, looking up at the sun through the window in my sail but below the water, I tried to claw my way to the side of the sail so I could get my head out of the water but couldn't because I was still hooked in, I couldn't unhook because somehow my harness line was twisted round the hook and it was under strain.
My feet had gone through the straps and the board floating upside down and I couldn't get my feet out because every time I tried the board would just move towards me. At this point my body was twisted as you can see, I thought I was going to die right there.
I don't know why but everything just stopped, for some reason, I stopped panicking, only then I started to think straight. Instead of struggling I just stopped, I guess I didn't have long left, perhaps it's some form of realisation I don't know. But only then was I able to think clear.
I relaxed, put my hands on my harness hook and worked out what was what, I got clear of that, once I was unhooked I could get my hands to the board and push the board off my legs, I twisted and got to the side of the sail and my head came out of the water, for the first time in what felt like an eternity I took the biggest breath I had ever taken. I still remember to this day looking through the window of my sail seeing the blue sky and thinking it was going to be the last thing I'd ever see.
So really this taught me a hard lesson, no matter how good you think you are, you can still die. It never kept me off the water though, I enjoy windsurfing, Kiteboarding, can't get enough of it. So you want as many safety devices as you can get, sometimes it just comes down to you, you still have to operate them. When you think you are in big trouble you are going to panic, so go through it in you mind, if this happens if that happens, chances are it will if your doing it long enough.
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