Right of way rules kitesurfing

Just like on the road, there are important rules to follow when you are out kitesurfing. Make sure you understand these rules before you go out kitesurfing on your own to prevent accidents and keep things safe.


Right of way rules for kitesurfing


  1. The kitesurfer entering the water has the right of way over the incoming kitesurfer



On land the risk of gusty wind is higher than on the water. When you are in the water and a gust powers up your kite, you run a lower risk on injury than on the land. If you see a kitesurfer entering the water, give him or her the right of way.


  1. Port side kitesurfer (right hand front) has right of way over the starboard kiter


  • The port side kitesurfer should keep its course so he can safely overtake the other kitesurfer
  • The starboard kitesurfer should give right of way by adjusting his speed /course. He should always pass down wind.



When passing each other on the water, the golden rule is that the upwind kiter keeps the kite up high and the down wind kiter keeps its kite down low.



In this way the distance between the kites is as big as possible so the chances of a crash or tangled kites are as low as possible.


  1. When two kiters ride in the same direction, the faster one coming from behind should give way to the slower kitesurfer



When you are approaching a slower kitesurfer form behind, you have a better view on the situation and can react to it. Try to pass upwind of the slower kiter to give way.


  1. A kiter riding a wave has right of way



If a kiter is on a wave, it becomes more difficult to control the kite because the kiter has to focus on riding the wave at the same time.



  1. Kitesurfers should always give way to other water/beach users



Many non kitesurfers will not understand the dangers of the kite. You should always give way to other water and beach users. The safest thing to do is pass them down wind.


  1. When you want to jump, keep a distance of at least 50 meters downwind and 30 meters upwind of others



When you jump your kite makes big movements which can cause tangles with other kite if you are too close. Make sure to have enough space down wind of yourself so you don’t crash into others while flying or landing.


Right of way rules kitesurfers versus other water users


  1. Give right of way to beach users


You should always give right of way to non kitesurfers using the each or the water. For instance, sunbathers, runners, pedestrians, fishermen etc. Never fly your kite over non-kitesurfers, as you could crash your kite on them of tangle them in your lines. Make sure to keep a safe distance from other at al times!


  1. Give right of way to swimmers


You must always be careful around areas where people are swimming. Remember you are riding at speed and don’t want to crash your board into someone’s head. If you do spot a swimmer, keep well clear and change direction.


  1. Give right of way to surfers, suppers, etc.


This group can react to kitesurfers faster than swimmers, but a kitesurfers should still always give way to surfers, windsurfers and canoers. A kite is much faster than the others and can react to a situation quicker. If you approach one of these other water users, stop and turn around.


  1. Give right of way to windsurfers and other sailers


Technically speaking a kitesurfer is a sailer as well. However, the long lines, required space and unpredictability generally make a kite harder to navigate around other sailing vessels.


Always give right of way to others! Make sure to keep distance between you and other at all times. Never come to close to sailing boats as you kite can get tangled in the mast.


  1. Motor boats should give way to kitesurfers

Motor boats and jet ski’s should always give way to kitesurfers. The are easier to manoeuvre and they can react quickly in case of a possible collision. If you come close to motor boats, make sure to keep a steady course so they can anticipate what you are doing.


  1. Always give way to commercial vessels

As a recreational water user you should always give way to commercial vessels like cargo ships, oil tankers, cruise chips etc.


  1. Give way to racing boats

If you come across a sailing competition or other water sports events, stay well clear.



Always be a gentleman on the water! Respect other recreationists and commercial operators and keep in mind to stay safe always!