So, I had one of those experiences that reminds you that sh$t can go south in this sport in an instant. I wanted to share because I think we rarely get a detailed explanation of what happens when things go sideways, and I think it's easy to get complacent.
Yesterday I got to Nahant at 10ish, and Gary arrived shortly after. The wind was forecast to be pretty W, 19-30, and as I don't feel comfortable in offshore, especially in 37 degree weather, we opted to go to dog. Tide was outgoing, with low around noon. Because I *really* don't like those rocks on the breakwater...they look kinda hard, I usually set up as close to the water as I can, which on an outgoing is pretty easy(lucky I did).
I went out on my surfboard (I'm trying to learn to tack), but it was annoying because the water was getting too shallow for my fins, so I came in and started walking in to get a twintip.
Gary signaled about whether I wanted to land, and I shook my head no. In hindsight I should have landed. I walk up to him and asked about tacking techniques with my kite in the air at dog. Not the awesomest idea to not be 100% focused, but that's not what caused the kitemare (though I think it indicates my too-relaxed attitude). I start walking to my bag to get my TT, which is maybe 30-40ft from the breakwater. The wind had shifted north...which is when it starts getting bat-sh$t crazy at dog.
Speaking of bat-s$it crazy, it was a typical dog day. Unpredictably gusty. Sometimes my 12m was good, other times I was a bit too powered, though never what I would call overpowered (At 218 i'm usually a freakin' boat anchor).
I reach my bag and grab my TT...then one of those dog gusts comes along that we all know and hate. Now keep in mind I had fully depowered my kite, and the kite I was on is pretty manageable when I do that.
Next thing, I feel a "thunk", and I look up in horror and notice that my depower rope had slipped out of the clam cleat. I was FULLY POWERED IN THE MIDDLE OF A DOG GUST 30 FEET FROM THE BREAKWATER. I remember thinking: "Holy f-ing shit". I reached up for the depower rope, not thinking, and I accidentally pulled the kite high.
Next thing I know, I am 20 feet in the air flying toward the breakwater at a southerly angle (remember, the wind had shifted north). I land on the sand 10 feet from the breakwater. I land so hard, and at a sufficient angle that one of my boots flew off, and the other went the other way. My foot shot through the neoprene and it was pushed all the way up my leg turning it into a leg warmer. I dragged toward the break water and mercifully stopped, as my kite hit between the road and the bushes, and my lines got caught in bushes, stopping me. Only then did I have the presence of mind to punch out.
At this point, Gary came and grabbed my bar while I went around and grabbed my kite, which was not on the road.
Ultimately, this was a cascading failure that catalyzed with my kite powering up when I really didn't need it to do that.
I am not a Noob. This is my 10th season, and I probably kite dog most of all the spots around here. I know it well, but I think I forgot a few things.
What did I do wrong?:
1. I was at dog. I should have landed my kite, THEN got my board. Dog is not like other spots. I did not respect the beach,
2. I did not properly think about the implications of the wind turning North (it also just tends to do that at the beach anyway)
3. I should have had my kite lower. Maybe if I had my head more in the game I would have...I think the act of going for my depower rope resulted in me pulling it up, but if it was lower to begin with, maybe it would have been better.
4. I should have anticipated that cleat popping, or at least thought about what I would do if it did.
5. In that kind of wind, I should have been on my 10m with a bigger board. My gut said that to me right before I went out. I should have listened.
Things I did right:
I launched and put my stuff as close to the water as possible. Thank god I did.
I literally got a burn on my thigh and arm from the inside of my drysuit from where I got slammed into the sand on my way to the breakwater, and I have a minor sprain on my right hand (should heal pretty fast). I AM REALLY REALLY LUCKY for a couple reasons, one of them being that my kite did not go into the road, the other that I am not severely injured. Oh yeah, and my kite is fine. Someone was looking out for me.
Respect the Dog. Keep your head in the game, and remember that you are one gear failure away from your complacency getting the better of you. Dog is an AWESOME spot. The fact that we can kite in a W wind within sight of Boston is amazing. But it is also temperamental, because the opposite shore is less than two miles away.
SPECIAL THANKS TO GARY who almost broke his leg running to help me. Gary, you are now on the long list of people I owe in this sport :)
I hope my experience is useful.