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Lost and Found – Kite Board Recovery and Loss Prevention
Lost and Found – Kite Board Recovery and Loss Prevention

Lost and Found – Kite Board Recovery and Loss Prevention

Lost and Found – Kite Board Recovery and Loss Prevention

It all started many years ago for me with… you guessed it. Losing a kite board.

Losing a Kite Board

Heartache. Feelings of Loss. Regret. Melancholy. These are the things that come to mind when you lose your favorite board kiteboarding.

Some times, it’s your skill level. You are just starting out on your kiteboarding journey and you have yet to fully master body dragging. You may even have imagined things going a lot differently for your first kite session in your head.

Other times, it’s the conditions. The waves are violent, the current can be really bad, or there is a lot of froth out there.

Regardless of the method, losing a kiteboard or any board for that matter is a terrible feeling. Both on your ego and your wallet.

This kiteboarding blog post is all about: (1) things to help assist the recovery of a lost board and (2) preventing future kite board loss.

Lost and Found- Kite Board Recovery and Loss Prevention
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Note that the title of this post is more metaphorical, and that the term “lost and found” has more to do with feelings of hardship and loss associated with losing a kite board. It is not intended as a literal “lost and found” page for your local kite beach.

Table of Contents

Things to Help Assist The Recovery of a Lost Kite Board:

There is more than one solution for recovering a lost kite board.

Running up and down the beach wildly screaming, flagging down every nearby jet skier, crying, and asking if anyone has seen your lost board (like you are searching for a lost puppy) is not the only solution.

This scenario may sound silly, but we witnessed this spectacle on the beaches of La Ventana not long ago, and it’s hard to blame the guy for acting this way considering how expensive kite gear can be.

Losing a space-aged-high-tech-carbon-fiber-performance-foil-board may be just the thing to push you over the edge and make you lose your sh@# on a public beach near you.

In the dire event that you can’t body drag back to a board, or there are no rescue boats, or you simply lose your board to Poseidon himself, there are a handful of precautions that you can take to ease your mind and help with recovering a lost board.

Stickers

Simple, stylish, inexpensive, and highly dependent on the honor system. A lost and found” sticker with your name and number clearly legible is a straightforward way to reconnect to a kite board you love.

Lost Kite Board Sticker
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Often, kiteboarders are a friendly group that are willing to help each other out in the name of spreading the joy of kiteboarding stoke. Therefore, returning a lost board to its true owner should be within the same positive ethos and spirit of the sport.

GPS Tracking?

Unlike stickers, GPS tracking is a more expensive and high tech solution for the task of recovering a lost board.

Advances in this area are slowly being made. The pairing of an Apple “AirTag” with a rugged waterproof Pelican case is the closest thing currently available for the realtime GPS tracking of smaller items, but technology like this can also present its own set of problems.

Today, the bulk of the GPS tracking technology out there has a long way to go for the requirements of kiteboarding. Especially when it comes to the overall size, range, charging, battery life and waterproof-ness(?) of GPS trackers on the market.

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Both Garmin and WOO Sports provide excellent active wear sports tracking platforms to help record recent kite session data (jump height, jump time, session length, leaderboards, etc.). But much like a sticker these will only help you recover a board if someone decides to return your board in good faith with the help of your account identification.

Recruit Your Local Kite Community

One of the best solutions for recovering a lost kite board is to utilize your local kite community. Check in with your local kite or board shop to see if anyone has turned a missing board in. Get the help of other kiters on the beach to help you recover a board if you just lost it. Community is a powerful thing, make the most of it.

Board Leashes are Hazardous!

Retractable leashes for kiteboarding may sound like a clever idea for kiteboarding, but can ultimately become a lethal slingshot that is always aimed at you. You can always replace a board, but you can’t easily recover from a head injury.

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So stay away from board leashes for twin-tip kite boards!!! There is a much simpler, more reliable, and less dangerous way to recover a board mentioned below.

Preventing Future Kite Board Loss:

Retrieving a kite board before it’s lost. No it’s not time travel. It’s the art of body dragging. Plus other considerations to prevent the loss of a kite board.

Body Dragging with Kite Board
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Body Dragging

First and foremost, the very best solution for retrieving a kite board after falling is to learn to effectively body drag. This is an essential skill for learning to kiteboard independently. YouTube is full of helpful body dragging techniques and tips.

Essentially you are using the power of your kite to get back to your board.

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Tips for Better Body Dragging:

Tacking and Kite Control

Face the direction you want to go and steer the kite at either 10 or 2 o’clock to help get back upwind or to maintain position. The goal is to make long tacks back and forth, using steady kite control for power.

If you keep the kite down too low in the power zone, you will be heading downwind rather than upwind. This is the opposite of what you want.

Avoid quick kite movements across the wind window to keep the kite’s power down. However, you also need to keep steady pressure on the lines to avoid stalling the kite and/or inverting the lines. This can really kill a kite session.

Additionally, try to avoid swimming outright against the kite to save energy.

Eventually, either the board will drift downwind far enough for you to reach it or you will travel enough upwind to meet the board, or some combination of both. It’s sort of like fishing. But for boards.

Learn to Fly the Kite One Handed

You can fly the kite with one hand and use your other hand outstretched in front to help guide you. This will help open your body up and create better resistance against the kite, similar to the effect of a center board on a sailboat.

Learning to fly the kite with one hand first (both left and right handed) on dry land helps a ton with body dragging in the water. Keep the hand on the bar near the center to avoid quick kite movements.

Kiteboarding is primarily about kite control.

Body Position

Imagine your body position like a stiff or rigid board pushing against the direction of the kite. In the art of body dragging, you are using your body as a de facto board.

Essentially you are traveling through the water on your side with your feet together, switching sides when you tack. Try not to be a limp noodle in the water and don’t worry about what it looks like. Body dragging with a kite is not a pretty maneuver, but it can be fun sometimes.

In the beginning for me, it helped a lot to lay more flat (almost on my stomach) to keep my bearings and control my direction of travel.

Keep your head up and expect a lot of water in the face. Note that this will also help you spot the board when you are tacking.

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Use Boards that are Easier to Recover in the Water!

After my own personal loss of a board in the beginning stages of learning to kite on Lake Michigan, I quickly realized that selecting the right board for the occasion and conditions is always helpful. Particularly if the board itself is easier to recover while body dragging.

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Things to consider with your board selection before heading out on the water:

Extra Buoyancy

The physics are pretty simple here. A board that has more floatation will inevitably catch and blow downwind quicker.

Higher volume boards, such as surf boards and most foil boards (not the low volume ones) tend to blow downwind back to a fallen kiteboarder quicker as compared to regular old twin-tips.

Likewise, twin-tips can easily get flipped upside down, resulting in slower downwind travel. This can be a real drag on recovering a kite board (pardon the pun)! Sometimes the profile of the fins sticking out of the water is the only thing you can make out if a twin-tip kite board is flipped upside down.

Side-Note: This is why Ocean Rodeo makes the useful “Go-Joe” attachment for twin tips. It adds buoyancy to an otherwise low volume board.

High Visibility

In the beginning, select a board that is easier to spot in the water, and therefore easier to recover while body dragging.

Having a board that is highly visible in the water with bright vibrant colors on the bottom never hurts.

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Footstraps

Loose foot straps or half straps on a foil board really can help you recover a board and subsequently complete a deep water start with your foil board.

Similarly, on twin-tip kite boards the foot straps give you something extra to grab a hold of while body dragging. Use everything at your disposal to help recover a board.

Losing a Kite Board Sucks… But Kiteboarding Still Rocks!

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Losing a board is never fun, but recovering a lost board after a long period of time is the kind of thing that helps restore your faith in humanity and encourages you to keep on riding. A great example of this is where a big wave surfer once recovered his lost board after it spent a few years drifting out to sea.

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At the end of the day, kiteboarding is all about having fun. Sure maybe you lost a board and that sucks, but don’t let that deter you from hitting the kite beach again. Kiteboarding is a great sport that initially has a steep learning curve, but ultimately is highly rewarding and addicting. If you lose a kite board to the sea, look at it as a lesson learned and an opportunity to progress.

At the same time, don’t take unnecessary risks simply just to recover a board. If the conditions are way too violent and you lose your board in big swells, simply use your kite to get yourself safely back to shore or do a self-rescue. Remember that you are worth more than your board even if it is made out of carbon fiber. If the wind conditions are not right, just wait for a better day to kite.

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If you have ever lost, mourned, and/or later recovered a board kiting or surfing, please share your story in the comments below. We would love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading and safe kiteboarding out there. –KiteBikeVan

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