brstn wrote:"what if that happens in deep water?"
-I wear a pfd
-I wear a backpack with swimfins, a whistle, a strobe light, a vhf radio
-my helmet has reflective tape
-in light winds I use surfboards so I can paddle back to shore.
I've had to swimback to shore on three of occasions (the other occasions were due to the wind dying), each time due to equipment failure.
-Psycho2-21M: I was out cruising in light winds when I felt a jerk. The chicken loop webbing at the top of the loop ripped, allowing depowerlooplne to pull through. This sent the kite to leash. Unfortunately, the stopper ball at the end of the leash disintegrated and the kite released. This left me with a long swim back in rip currents (No doubt swim fins cut the time in half). I had just started carrying my swim fins a few weeks before expecting a scenario like this. The kite made it back to shore on it's own, but got hammered by the surf causing extensive damage to about 8 cells.
-Guerilla2-9M: I was out in 45+ mph gusts. It was survival mode and I was the only one on the water. I had the kite low and was edging like a mofo. When I felt a jerk. I looked up and the kite was taking off downwind. I still had the bar in my hands. The front lines snapped, and the rear line pigtails ripped completely out of the kite. (I was using more bar pressure pigtails which are not reinforced enough). That was before I used swim fins and just tried to use my twintip as a bodyboard and try to ride the waves back to shore.
-Cabrinha Access 12M: I was out cruising far from shore. The wind was picking up, I had the kite at 45 degrees. I felt the strongest gust of my life. I was leaning back and it ripped me off my edge pulling me out of the water. I landed so hard my helmet fell off. I looked up and my rear pigtail had ripped on the kite from the gust. I put the kite to leash and proceeded to self rescue. The winds died off and I was out so far, wasn't sure I'd make it back to the point (so I'd drift 12 miles to the other side of the bay). A windsurfer offered to haul me back to shore. He had me roll up my kite and lay on the kite and board. He fell into his sail and ripped it. At that point he couldn't help me and left me. I was only wearing a spring suit and was getting cold and crampy. I was only wearing a dakine impact vest, so I had to tread water to keep my head above water and couldn't rest like you can with a pfd. Luckily another windsurfer on a huge board and sail hauled me the rest of the way (2.5 hours later). I don't know if I would have survived if it wasn't for their help. Never let the air out of the leading edge inflatable, unless the winds are off-shore. And always remember to re-cap the tube after letting the air out or you'll end up with an anchor (I speak from (another) experience).
The above experiences led me up to carrying the above mentioned equipment for deep water sailing. But I think it also shows that sh*t can happen on any type of kitesurfing equipment.