Harken Derm

Safety guidelines for kiteboarding

Published on April 28th, 2019

Launching from Crissy Field Park, San Francisco Bay is kiteboarding mecca. Big breeze, ebb tide kicking up launch ramps, surrounded by iconic scenery. The cocktail crowd at St. Francis Yacht Club gaze out to the show.

But the kiteboarders keep the Coast Guard busy, with the agency issuing a bulletin after having conducted multiple rescues of downed kiters in the past week in the San Francisco Bay.

Coast Guard responders attributed the recent distress calls to a combination of weather and inexperience, and are reminding kiteboarders to take precautions. Here is their advice, applicable regardless of location:


Kiteboarders should always have a reliable method for calling for help, such as a handheld, waterproof marine VHF radio. They should also check the forecast before going out to find out when wind speed will be optimal, as low winds can result in becoming stranded.

“Kiteboarders, along with many other sea-going sports can be deceptively difficult activities,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bonnie Shaner, the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco response department head. “It’s important to know weather conditions before heading out, to take a VHF radio when possible, and to never go to the beach alone.”

The Coast Guard recommends that all kiteboarders wear a life jacket and a helmet, carry a hand-held radio while in the water, and always let someone know when you’re heading out and when you plan to return. Additionally, the Coast Guard recommends that kiteboarders mark their equipment with name and contact information in the event they get separated from their equipment.

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