Rescue rules take flight

Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue fleet manager Nick Hill demonstrates a kite surfer rescue. Picture: Martin Kennealey d409290
Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue fleet manager Nick Hill demonstrates a kite surfer rescue. Picture: Martin Kennealey d409290

‘Five years ago calls to rescue kitesurfers were rare to non-existent, and if they were they were close to shore,’ Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue president Philip Martin said.

‘Now kiters are spreading along the coast for new places, and going farther offshore.’

But they and the public are unsure how to deal with the detachable 25m-long lines connecting a kitesurfer to the kite.

Mr Martin said methods were needed to deal with kites looping dangerously on the surface, possibly preventing self-rescue by the kiter who may be unconscious or impaired from being in the water.

As part of ongoing safety initiatives by kiting groups, Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue last week hosted a forum also attended by kite shops, Water Police and yacht clubs.

The forum was unrelated to the recent death of kiter Marc Sprod at Cottesloe, but instructed surf lifesavers on kite rescues close to beaches.

Draft guidelines direct offshore rescue skippers to approach the kiter from upwind, and on his left side, put the engine in neutral and instruct him on how the rescue crew will tackle his kite before taking him aboard.

In life threatening situations, rescuers would first release the kiter from the device, cut the lines or deflate the kite.

Mr Martin said boaters who found a kiter struggling at sea should first call professional rescuers, kiters in the water more than 20 minutes should tell their rescuers and offshore kiters had to carry a personal emergency beacon.