One Idea to Prevent Kiting Deaths
Please read the full text before forming any conclusions about this idea
I believe there is a fundamental flaw in the way kiters view their safety systems. We all think we can grab our release handles when something goes wrong. Until we accept that we cannot grab our release handles, we'll continue to have too many deaths in our sport. If you think you can find your release and pull it, you may be fooling yourself. Imagine getting hurled at 3 Gs, upside down, and trying to find that release. In many accidents you only have 1 or 2 seconds before it's too late. The best way to ensure your ability to release from the kite during a kitemare, is to already have your hand on the release. Not the most practical solution.
Punch-out designs were the first obvious solution. Unfortunately they are almost impossible to design without having accidental releases. Another problem with them is the potential for a user to not let go after it punches out. When fear hits during a kitemare, it's very likely you would punch the bar, yet not be aware of whether the kite has disconnected, and continue holding on. When panic hits, people get stupid. They develop a death grip, and loose sensory perception of what they're doing. I know this from teaching hang gliding.
I started looking for a solution I could do at home NOW. The following photos illustrate my home made safety system. The idea is to create a wrist watch style band with D-ring that kiters would always have on their wrists. Then you add a micro leash connected directly to your current release handle. You connect the micro leash to your wrist watch D-ring during launching and landing. You disconnect it while away from land. Imagine being out riding and a thunderstorm comes up. The wind suddenly gets gusty and dangerous. Now you have the option to connect this micro leash as you return to the beach. You can safely land the kite during what could be life threatening conditions, because you already have the release attached to your wrist. Should tragedy strike, you pull your arm away from your body and the kite is released. Think about how much safer self launching would be in high winds with this on your wrist.
It's not perfect, but it is something you can build at home. Soon more manufacturers will have professional solutions.
Wrist watch style band with safety D-ring
Only connected while on the beach (launching, landing, or walking on the beach)
Warning: This does not replace your kite leash. The 5th Element leash is still required.
Micro leash stored for riding.
This leash does hold "the position shown above" during riding, doing tricks, even unhooked.
It does not get in the way or foul the 5th E kite leash.