A great downwinder
The kitesurfing was glorious, riding the endless waves that stretch along the outer sandbar, doing the odd jump. This section of the bay provides superb kitesurfing.
Some other kites were out but it wasn't crowded. I made sure I detoured around the swimming zones and kept my eye out for swimmers.
I was getting a bit tired so I decided to conserve some energy in preparation for getting around Ricketts Point - the crux of the tour.
Down from Gnotuk I caught up with Stuart then started on a tack to get past Mordialloc pier. I stacked, Stuart came past me. I was on a comfortable tack again past the end of the pier with Stuart a little bit ahead and downwind. He kept on his tack so I assumed he was going past the pier too.
|Heading off from Frankston|
|The surf line along the outer sandbar|
|Moments before the drama|
Then disaster struck. Stuart turned suddenly with his kite shooting to 12. My kite lines crossed with his and the kites were immediately tangled. Then I was tangled in his lines trying to control my kite, safety deployed. Stuart's kite powered up a couple of times in deathloops - I got some huge yanks out of the water until I pulled in his lines and got to his kite.
A grabbed the leading edge and accidentally pulled off one of the strut tubes which deflated Stuart's kite. In hindsight this might have helped matters. I pulled my lines in and got to my kite and started sailing it towards the beach, still connected to Stuart by his kite lines.
For a while it looked like we would make but suddenly we were in a strong current heading directly for the pier. My lines were still dangling in the water, there wasn't time to wind them in.
We contacted the pier. Stuart went straight through the pylons with his kite all bundled. Mine was still inflated so it wouldn't fit. Some bystanders on the pier offered to help. I was eventually able to lift the kite up so they could grab a wing tip and hold it.
|Approach Mordy pier|
|Stuart floating under Mordy pier|
|Lines wrapped on pier pylon|
I disconnected from the kite bar and swam to the shore, scrambling out over the rocks and cutting my left leg on some mussels in the swell. Ouch. I got to the kite and Anthony had arrived to help. I leant off the pier with Anthony holding my legs and disconnected the right hand bridle then got the kite onto the pier.
Stuart jumped in and cut my bar free, leaving the lines tangled around two pylons. Anthony had rescued my board.
Two lifeguards from the Mordialloc Life Saving Club showed up to provide some first aid. I went back to the club premises after our gear was sorted out so they could check out the mussel cuts. I noticed my left arm was sore and there was a mark on the wetsuit sleeve from kite lines.
- Downwinders can be tiring - focus on the journey and conserve energy rather than going hard like a normal session.
- Watch out for others and keep an eye on where your companions are, particularly in dodgy locations.
- Give yourself plenty of room (e.g. 100m) when passing major obstacles
- Keep a good distance away from other kiters (e.g. 50m)
- Tack well before you get to an obstacle if you aren't going to get past it. Piers often have fishing lines off them and people swimming around them, there is no point going right up close.
- If kites get tangled its best to immediately release your safety then fully detach so they can separate
- Cut kite lines with your line knife once you are tangled in someone elses - a powered up kite can easily slice a line through flesh.
- Wind your lines in so they don't get tangled around you or other obstacles.
- Deflate your kite if you are heading for a major obstacle that you will get caught on (like a pier)
- Wear reef boots on downwinders. I was glad I had mine on when I was under the pier!
- Wear a long sleeved wetsuit. A 2mm springsuit with long arms and short legs is not too hot for summer and provides some protection.
We got off lightly - not much equipment damage and no serious injuries. It could have been much worse. Getting tangled in kite lines carries laceration and drowning risks.
|Injury on forearm from kiteline (though the wetsuit!)|
|Injury on upper arm from kiteline (though the wetsuit!)|