THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY #02
Basically, the title fit with the theme of not very cleverly matching words to the days of the week for our Daily Doses features. Each week we'll bring you a variety of content that might slip under the regular rider's radar. This week Reo Stevens gets you thinking differently as you attempt to ride a new break
TEN THINGS THAT SHOULD GO THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN APPROACHING A NEW BREAK
WORDS - Reo Stevens
CAPTION | How would this spot measure up for practicing your pop transitions? Probably not ideal.../ PHOTO | Jason Wolcott / LEWHS
01 WHEN IN DOUBT, DON'T GO OUT!
The number one factor that will influence any decision you will make regarding safety is to know yourself. Know your skill level, know what you are comfortable with and, most of all, know your limitations and be smart enough to make the sensible decision not go out and look elsewhere instead.
02 LOCAL KNOWLEDGE RULES!
If you show up to a new spot and there are local kiters (even better, lifeguards) already out, ask them some questions. Why go through the painful learning experiences of new spots like learning where the reefs are with your fins, or even worse how strong the rip tides and currents are while you drag a popped kite in through the channel? If you feel embarrassed about asking questions, get over it! It shows experience that you know better to ask than just head out blind. I'd imagine it's a lot more embarrassing getting rescued by a local, or even the coast guard. Just imagine the taunting you'll get in the local pub when your mates constantly replay the recording of the newscast of your ride in the 'little bucket' under the helicopter.
CAPTION | Philippines. Wind and wave quality certainly look good for Reo in this shot! / PHOTO | Mamat
03 WIND DIRECTION / QUALITY
Sure the wave looks good, but how's the wind? Study the weather conditions and make sure that you shouldn't just be paddling out for a regular paddle surf instead of pumping up your kite.
04 CURRENTS: HOW FAST ARE THEY?
Where are they going and do you really want to go where they are going? Aside from the waves themselves, currents can be one of the most dangerous factors in the ocean. They can be subtle, but strong enough that they can drag you down the coast, or even worse, out to sea without you even noticing that you are moving. Knowing how to recognise currents, and knowing how to get out of them could save your life.
05 TIDE: IS IT RISING OR DROPPING?
'I'm sure there's an 'app' for that.' Tide charts? get one! Know what the tides are doing. A changing tide can change everything!
CAPTION | Try to find the channels. Heading directly out through this lot could be tricky / PHOTO | Mark Thompson
06 WHERE ARE THE CHANNELS? ARE THERE ANY?
Both reef and sandbar shore breaks can offer up a channel area. They are not necessary, but sure can make your life easier with a nice smooth, open area that makes getting back out to the take off zone a lot easier on your body. They are also a great 'safe zone' if something goes wrong.
07 REEFS: DO THEY POSE A DANGER?
This factor correlates to the previous observation points. Do the tides go low enough that the reefs now become an exposed obstacle? Several areas of the world have a severe enough tide change that areas that are covered with water could be exposed over a matter of a few hours. What you easily glided over on your way out is now exposed coral keeping you from getting all the way back to the beach. Were there any channels? If so, do they still exist? Has the lowering tide exposed the reef enough that it has increased the strength of the current in these channels so much that you won't be able to use them to get in? If you think you might need to walk on the reef, reef booties are a great idea. Remember, the ocean is a constantly changing entity, so keep an eye on what it's doing. Being aware of your changing surroundings could save your life.
08 TRUST YOUR EQUIPMENT
If you're facing a session where if things go wrong they are going to go 'really wrong', perhaps it's best that you fix that slow bladder leak, or replace that worn chicken loop and that line with a knot in it.
09 KNOW YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE
Even if you can't emulate all of James Bond's charisma and charm, you should at least adopt one of his tactics. If (and when) everything goes wrong, using all the previous factors that you've assessed, have a plan of retreat on how you are going to make sure that you will make it back to shore under your own power. It's always good until it isn't.
CAPTION | Reo loves it when a plan comes together and a sick (but safe) session goes down/ PHOTO | Fabrice Beau
10 IS THE JUICE WORTH THE SQUEEZE?
Now that you have everything assessed, you know the conditions, you feel it's safe to go out and you have your back up plans in case everything goes wrong... now imagine everything going wrong. Are the rewards of the potential session really worth the possible consequences. Remember, 'If in doubt, don't go out!'
For more information on ocean safety check out the Hawaii Lifeguard Association's recommendations on what to do when things do go wrong. oceansafety.ancl.hawaii.edu/safety
For lots of other safety advice, insurance and general information about safe kitesurfing, hit up the IKO and BKSA websites:
Reo Stevens is sponsored by Cabrinha
Also find him here: www.reostevens.com
TO LEASH OR NOT TO LEASH
And finally, on the subject of riding surfboards, here's a picture from a post on Reo's website of his buddy Keahi de Aboitiz needing stitches in his head after his board sprang back and hit him on the bonce because he was wearing a leash.
The lesson here is that it's not really necessary to wear a leash with your surfboard unless you're riding at a really gnarly spot, where losing your board would be more dangerous than it hitting you in the head!
Read Reo's review and see more pics of Keahi's injury and operation here: