Tangled Lines How i learnt to carry A knife

It all happened quite quickly really, I suppose most bad situations that we get into happen quite quickly, or else we would avoid them.

It was a classic Hayling day last Autumn; the sun was there to warm the air enough for a summer suit still, the previous nights storm had passed but the waves on the end of the sandbar were still playing. Apart from the sea being an impenetrable green brown there was nothing to not make you smile about the conditions.

It all happened quite quickly really, I suppose most bad situations that we get into happen quite quickly, or else we would avoid them.

So, Summer suit, no gloves, 12m kite on a twintip and heading out to the end of the sandbar to play on the ramps of water. Now I am not a gifted kitesurfer, I would be comfortable with being called competent. I can jump just high enough to scare myself, no WOO needed, and my only other trick is a backroll, most elegantly performed after launching over a wave.

An hour or so into the session, and there were a handful of kites playing in the waves, some on surfboards, who I try to always remain clear of, and some enjoying the ramps. The kite I was following out into the waves about 20 meters ahead, stops, turns and rides towards me. I had not been paying the rider enough attention, I was looking for the next wave face, or else I would have seen their body language change before the maneuver. They can't have looked before their turn, or they would have seen me. Perhaps the extra space away from the beach led to a reduced need to check over the shoulder. There was only one way this was going to end, Tangled Lines.

Neither of us released, it was just not that serious.

Now, you may think I am going to recount how the lines got wrapped around my ankle, after I released my kite and attempted to self rescue; but no. Neither of us released our chicken loops, the situation was just not that serious. Two kites in a tangle, no big deal, it can normally be sorted with a bit of careful swimming.

The careful swimming was not, however, going to plan. My kite had flown through the others lines. I was downwind of them and their lines were across my body. As I tried to go through their lines I must have caught one on my harness, their kite relaunched and gave a tight loop, putting me back in their lines. Their kite then did the same again and I was trapped. I still though we could untangle this mess, but when a line ran across my neck I thought SOD IT, time for the knife to get some use!

I reached to the front of my harness, just under the hook,

I reached to the front of my harness, just under the hook, as I had practiced a few years before when I had bought my Mystic Warrior harness, but found no knife. What I found was my new Ride Engine harness, not only does it not come with a spreader bar when you buy it, but the spreader bar does not come with a knife!

Thankfully my tangle buddy released their safety, taking the tension off their lines, allowing me to escape from them. No harm was done, we had extricated ourselves from a tricky situation. Both our kites were back into the air, but I got the impression that we were both leaving allot more space around us for the rest of the session.

Happily ever after...

Many of the incidents we have kitesurfing end in just this way, Happily Ever After, but if just one of the variables were to be changed the story may be very different. If the winds had been more gusty, if the kite had looped a third time, if the water had been colder and I had no gloves, then maybe the situation would have been more serious, and a knife would have been a necessity, maybe.

Well, that "maybe" got me to thinking about how I could attach a knife to my harness. There is a pocket on the spreader bar, but it is a very small pocket and will not fit the knife from my previous harness. Whilst looking for something that will work, I came across kitesurf forums with loads of information about what knives not to have, as well as what works best. If you are still reading, I shall tell you the distillation of those many pages.

Some hook knives are more suitable for kitesurfing.

The only type of knife that is suitable is a hook knife, but hook knives come in three varieties. The first is a hook shaped, curved blade and its cutting ability relies entirely on how sharp it is; even razor sharp it requires some tension in the lines to give it something to cut against, I would not recommend this as your primary, but could be considered if you wanted to carry two knives, as it is capable of cutting the webbing of a harness. Just be careful that you are not adding yet another place for a line to catch on when you attach it.

The second has a slot with a single blade in it, when tested it requires about 20Kg of pull to cut a kite line, sometimes more if the blade is not aligned correctly, but the force on the blade when it is used can damage it, making it far harder to use for a second line. These are the "bargain bucket knife" and are best avoided. If you have one of these in your harness you should replace it with the third type.

The third looks just like the second, but has two overlapping blades in the slot. They require less than a kilo of force to cut a line so do not bend in use and are the best choice of knife for our needs. They are very effective at cutting the flying lines that kitesurfers use.

Such double bladed hook knives are relatively cheap, a branded one is less than £20. They are slim enough to tuck into a harness when not in use. Because they can be tucked away they cannot accidentally snag a line. They often have a Velcro patch to help keep them in place, so they are exactly where you expect them to be when you need them most.

Consider the types of situations you may be in when you need your knife, they may be quite fraught!

At times like these you are more likely to fumble, and maybe drop your knife, just when you need it most.

Make sure you can get a good grip on it, perhaps tie it to your harness. This way, once you have a good hold of it, you can cut it free and not risk it sinking. A thin elastic works well and takes up hardly any space.

So, no, I have not had to use a knife whilst kitesurfing, but that is not to say that I will never need one. For such a small addition to your equipment you should view it as an essential part of your Personal Protection Equipment.

There are many good reasons to carry a knife, and I can see no good reasons not to. It is an essential part of your Personal Protection Equipment.

Created By
Alistair Davy

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.