Ever increasing in popularity, Kitesurfing was developed in the late 1990’s. It is surely the early catastrophic accidents that give Kitesurfing its dangerous label. Later developments in safety release systems prevent such tragic occurrences, so today can Kitesurfing really be considered a dangerous or extreme sport ?
Current research data from hospital emergency room attendances indicates just 7 injuries per 1000 hours of kitesurfing activity. Kitesurfing is listed as an extreme sport, yet the odds of having an accident on the water can be covered by a years Insurance policy for less than one pound per week, one would expect the cost of insuring a dangerous sport to be much higher. All this leads me to believe that the odds of being injured while on the water kitesurfing are actually lower than staying on land. Of course there are risks involved in any sport and the best protection against injury is getting good instruction as the first and most important step. Learning how to handle a kite safely in the wind, the safe way to launch and land a kite. And what to do in the case of kite malfunction on the water.
There are also things one can buy to reduce the chance of physical injuries. I have treated myself to an impact vest after having crashed hard enough on to a seaweed covered reef to knock the breath from my body. I was lucky to escape unscathed and decided looking like a pussy was preferable to having to sit on the beach because of a broken ribs next time. It could be that the security it gives me is purely psychological but I feel safer wearing it. I have considered a helmet, but am far from attempting jumps, so although it is a really good idea to wear a helmet, I haven’t bought one yet. I hate wearing booties, but stumbling barefoot over coral and reefs in some locations can result in quite deep lacerations. While stepping on the spines of a sea urchin or a stubbed toe can hardly be described as dangerous, the pain from these minor injuries can affect a session on the water. The level of risk can vary from one beach to another, an offshore wind, a rip tide, submerged groynes or even shipwrecks, so finding out from others and considering when and where to launch can
minimise danger in unfamiliar locations.
After taking all reasonable precautions to reduce the chances of having or causing an accident to happen, one has to compare the relative danger of kitesurfing to the risk involved in everyday life. For example, statistically you are more likely to be injured driving to the beach than be involved in a kitesurf accident on the water. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents there are approximately 6,000 deaths per year across the UK as a result of home accidents. Not only does that make categorising kitesurfing as dangerous a little bit dubious , it also means staying at home is actually more risky than going kitesurfing. What more of an excuse to you need to get out on the water !