Kite Buggy Safety Guidelines
We all enjoy kite sports for various reasons and for many of us it is a bit of adrenalin.
The down side to this is with and adrenalin sport there are risks associated. This is in no way meant to be a definitive guide and some may disagree with some points, however it should at least offer a few pointers for those looking for somewhere to start.
The topics covered will include –
- Site selection and assessment
- Kite and size selection
- Buggy and kite pre-flight inspection
- Knowing your limits
- Protective gear
- Close quarters buggying
- Emergency procedures
- Site selection-
This is an important factor when using kite driven vehicles. The site you choose will have a big influence on not only the enjoyment of your session but also your safety and the safety of others around you. An ideal location will have clean wind with minimal gusts, plenty of space and minimal obstacles for you to hit. It is also important to select a location where there is minimal risk of coming close to the public.
Think “buffer zones” when looking at a location and think how much room you will need in a worse case scenario, remembering that your kite is already 18-30 meters downwind of you. So if you have 40 meters of downwind space your kite only has about 10-20. With obstacles upwind of your location you are in no danger of hitting them however you need to be aware of how these obstacles can affect the wind.
- Kite Size and selection-
Choosing the correct size for the session is a critical decision for your safety and enjoyment.
When choosing a kite size take the following into consideration-
Amount of wind,
What you want to achieve with your session,
The amount of space available,
How gusty the conditions are (pick your kite for the gusts NOT the lulls)
- Buggy and kite pre-flight inspection -
Buggy- Check all bolts are tight, especially the axle bolts. Check high stress areas for possible cracks. Kite- Check condition of your lines and that there are no twists in the bridle. Confirm the left handle or left of the bar (Usually Red) is connected to the left of the kite. If fitted check pulleys and other hardware. Confirm any safety systems are operating freely.
- Knowing your limits-
Always kite within your ability and be prepared for when things go wrong. Like most sports your ability will grow with experience. More experienced pilots are not only better when things are going well but usually well practiced at when things go wrong!! If you have trouble stopping at 50kmh it’s probably not a good idea to do 70kmh.
- Protective equipment-
As a minimum you should be wearing a helmet. Ideally look for one that meets Australian Standards for pushbike use on roads but any helmet is better than none. A general rule I use is the more risk the more protective equipment. Other equipment to consider include knee, shin and elbow pads. Also consider full body armor and padding for your buggy. Decent shoes are a good idea too.
Here is a list of things that will increase the risk or impact speed-
Buggying in groups
Obstacles on the flying field
Hard ground eg; Concrete
- Close quarters buggying-
Kiting a small area in a group has proven to be a big risk factor for injuries. Here are a few things to consider.
Identify the skill level of other pilots and give space to beginners.
As with “buffer zones” mentioned earlier, when the wind increases leave more space between pilots. Allow a few meters downwind clearance to allow for slides.
Know the rules. Upwind pilot keeps kite high and downwind pilot keeps kite low.
Consider a pilots meet at the beginning of the session to lay down any ground rules and allocate one direction for each part of the field/beach if it is narrow. Back when we did a lot of night buggying we always gave a brief first. Be considerate and remember you might be a kamikaze style pilot but the guy you are hurtling towards might value their limbs a bit more!
- Emergency Procedures -
I won’t go too far in depth with this topic but here are some tips-
Learn first aid
Know your nearest medical facility and the route there.
Carry a basic first aid kit
Avoid kiting alone. At minimum inform somebody of your plans and timings.
Carry a mobile phone
Now get out there and have some fun