Kiteboarding at the Skyway Bridge can get crowded on a windy day and it’s each kiteboarders responsibility to familiarize themselves with common courtesy and right of way rules. The Tampa Bay area is unique in the sense that it is not limited in access due to state intervention. To maintain freedom of access, it is important for everyone as a kiteboarding community to look out for one another, familiarize themselves with right of way, and prevent putting themselves or others in a dangerous situation.
Instructors have a great responsibility to make sure their students learn how to kiteboard safely and proficiently before going out on their own. Getting certified through a legitimate organization will make it easier for instructors to better teach and prepare their students to be kiteboarders. It doesn’t matter how long or how good of a kiteboarder you are, going through certification teaches someone how to teach. When teaching, instructors should always teach far upwind out of all the other kiteboarders way. This makes it more enjoyable for both, the student learning and the kiteboarders riding.
- Lend a helping hand to your fellow kiteboarders: It’s good karma and you will end up making many new friends from helping people launch, land, untangle lines or even loaning someone your screwdriver!
- Be aware of non-kiters: Always assume that beachgoers and fishermen have right of way, so stay away!
- Communicate: If two people are launching at the same time, let the other person go and get on the water before you launch. And remember to always give way to someone wishing to land their kite before you launch.
- Dangerous Situations: If you recognize a potential threat, tell everyone else, such as a storm front you notice coming through, or a spike in wind that shows on the forecast you just re-checked.
Right of Way
- A person landing a kite always has right of way over someone looking to launch a kite.
- A person in the process of launching a kite has right of way over someone looking to land a kite.
- Same Tack Right of Way: The upwind rider must keep his kite above 45 degrees, downwind rider must keep his kite below 45 degrees.
- Opposing Tack Right of Way: When two kitesurfers approach from opposite directions the rider riding on his port tack (left hand forward) veers off and goes downwind of the rider who is riding on a starboard tack (right hand forward). The downwind rider keeps his kite under 45 degrees and the upwind rider keeps his kite above 45 degrees.
- Another way to view this: If you’re going left, go downwind… If you’re going right, stay riding upwind (see picture below).
- Leeward Right of Way: The leeward rider has right of way over anyone windward.
- Another way to view this: If you are riding upwind of someone and decide to go downwind, the riders riding downwind of you have right of way (see picture below).
- Speed Right of Way: When riding close to others it is always important to ride in control, the faster rider must avoid the slower rider by either staying upwind or veering off downwind.
- Look before you transition: hopefully you wouldn’t switch lanes on the highway without looking twice, the same applies with kiteboarding.
- Avoid hanging out on the beach with your kite at 12:00 while other kiteboarders are trying to launch or land.
- Don’t do tricks over the beach.
- Find a safe environment away from beachgoers and other obstacles to practice flying a trainer kite.
- The pilot of the kite is responsible for a safe launch or land and should be familiar with the proper technique and positioning.
- Maintain a similar tack so that other riders know when and where you transition.