Spot assessment kitesurfing
Making a spot assessment is a crucial step efore you start kitesurfing on a spot. For safety reasons it’s important to asses the spot you are going to ride. Are the waves? Where is the wind from? Are there any dangerous obstacles? The spotassesment is a crucial element for your own safety. In this article we will discuss the most important elements of the spot assesment
Spot assessment: weather forecast
Always make sure to check the weather forecast. The weather can change very quickly. The wind can increase or decrease during the day, which means you have to change your kite size in order to ride safely. If the wind increases you will need a smaller kite and when the wind drop you will need a bigger kite. Also be aware of rain which makes the wind gusty or fade away completely and be aware of thunder storms. If you hear a thunder storm approaching make sure to get off the eater quickly and land your kite.
Spot assessment part 1 : local rules and regulations
Most kitesurf spots and beaches around The Netherlands will have information signs with local rules and general information about the spot. Always respect these rules as kitesurfing spots are under constant supervision of the government. On most signs you will find the zones where kitesurfing is allowed. You will also find important information about dangers, currents, protected areas etc.
Spot assessment part 2: wind direction
Not all wind directions are suitable for a safe kitesurfing session. Always make determining the safe wind directions part of your spot assessment. NEVER go kitesurfing when the wind is blowing offshore. If the wind drops or there are strong current, you may not be able to ride upwind back to the beach again.
Spot assessment part 3: currents
There are different types of current which can cause dangerous situations Always make sure to check for currents before you go kitesurfing on a spot. If you ever end up in a current never try to swim against it. You won’t be able to swim against a current and you are wasting crucial energy.
If rip current occurs when waves come into the beach. This constant incoming flow of water means the water needs to find a way to go back out. Water will always choose the path of least resistance so usually the water will flow out between two sand bars or a deeper channel. You can recognise a rip current by messy breaking waves and white water flowing back out to sea. If you get caught in a rip, swim to the side to get out if the current and safely swim back with help of the waves.
When there are waves coming in and there is no deeper channel going out, the water will glow back out under the waves again. This creates a downward pull which can be very dangerous. When caught in an undertow, again try not to fight against it.
Spot assessment part 4: obstacles in the water
Especially on the Dutch coast you can find a lot of poles in the water. However they may not always be visible with high tide. The public information signs mentioned earlier often indicate where these poles are located
Spot assessment part 5: sand bars
Also make sure to check weather there are any sand bars. Especially when the water comes to low tide, these sand bars can make for dangerous obstacles.
Spot assessment part 6: other beach and water users
With bad weather you won’t encounter many other beach users. On the days with nice weather the beach can be crowded. It then becomes important to be aware of others safety. Make sure to never start and land your kite close to other beach users. If your kite would get out of control it might injure others.
Spot assessment part 7: obstacles
Whenever you go for a session on a spot you don’t know make sure to check what kind of obstacles there are. Examples of obstacles are power lines and masts, signs, trees, mountains, etc. Always make sure to have enough clear space around you to safely set up and launch.
Spot assessment part 8: water entry and exit
Before you enter the water make sure to check if there is a safe spot to enter and exit the water. Also double check if there are no current or large beach breaks which can cause dangerous situations. Also make sure to make a quick assessment of what would happen if the wind drops or you go down wind too much.