Fall, 2006 - The Dangers of Self Launching

It was just me and Bill on the postage stamp of dirt known as Pewaukee beach. Although the wind was light, it was enough to ride with a big kite and good board. Bill was already out there on his Contra 14m, and I rigged my Contra 17m. Since it was fall and there was no one around to help launch (that is why we could be on the beach at all — do not launch here if there are swimmers!). So, I set up to self launch.

I was a little worried about this pole in the beach and maybe not having enough room to do this. Sure enough, as my kite slid downnwind on the leading edge a line hit the pole, tensioned, and launched the kite over the road. I dropped the power and the lines caught on a lampost. The kite proceeded to crash into the road. I quickly looked left and right as the big 17m was coming down and saw a brake in the traffic.

Whew! My kite was not run over. However, I was still hooked in, no one was there to help and my kite is in the road, furiously trying to relaunch into the plate glass window of Seeseter’s Mexican restaraunt. At this point, with the lines caught up, the control bar was useless.

Luckily, a chef came running out and grabbed my kite. Once I was sure he had it, I unhooked, ran over and grabbed the kite. I quickly unhooked the lines and took the kite back to the beach. Then I ran back into the road and unhooked the lines from the lamppost and tree they had subsequently got caught in. After clearing the road, traffic, which was quite patient, resumed.

I then went in and bought a taco lunch.

In hindsight:

What I did right —
1. Didn’t panic, which would have made the situation worse.
2. Didn’t try to fly the kite out or otherwise put anymore power into it.
3. Bought tacos from the guy who saved me.

What I did wrong —
1. Tried to launch downwind when there wasn’t room.
2. I tried to downwind self launch when I wasn’t experienced enough with that process.
3. I was too impatient to using the bow sandbag tip style launch.

-Stafford