Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby Advance » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:49 am

This thread should be moved to the safety folder, but I want to repeat a warning and remind everyone about potentially severe safety issues when launching at Magnuson park in gale force winds, or on strong south westerly winds.

Simply put, Magnuson park is just not a safe launch site in gale force winds like we had on Saturday.
The 520 bridge deck was reading gusts to over 50mph. I was out on a windsurfer and can confirm the wind was extremely strong (it seems like the wind was a little stronger on the lake than at Westpoint according to readings).

Several kites were launched between noon and 3pm, before the severe wind really started at around 3:30 or 4pm. I am very glad these kiters were not launching (coincidentally) when the wind spiked up from 35-40 to 45-50 kts at 4pm.

Here is what I observed:

- A couple from out of town arrived, obviously experienced kiters. I warned them about the wind strength and safety issues with the launch (particularly the wind rotor behind the trees, which potentially luffs a kite only to have it power up again in the power window, at random angles).
They water launched the kite with the man holding a 7.5m Cult for his partner or girlfriend. They made it out OK, but it was sketchy IMO ().
Their judegement was sound, because the more onshore launch near the parking lot looked inhospitable and illogical -- so getting the kite launched out toward water the was actually a good judgement call. But there were other hazards where they launched with bad foothold on wet grass, trees and rocks downwind). They kind of brushed off my safety warning, I assume because they were experienced -- the guy came up to me later and said he now understood what I meant after launching his girlfriend.

- Another regular Magnuson kiter proceeded to launch a 7m SS rev without anyone holding him down. The kite launch almost went awry with the kite falling on the pavement and close to powering up again with possible dire consequences. The kite launcher was somewhat confused about how to do it right because he was not a local kiter and was ready to hot launch him direct downwind.
I warned the kiter and launcher that he really needs someone holding him down. (Honestly thinking he is absolutely nuts or clueless if he is doing it without a hold down). He managed to somewhat hot launch the kite in about 40 knots just after I grabbed ahold of him. When the kite launched, the kiter in question got lofted violently off his feet. Lucklily I was holding onto him, in my view, or else, dare I say (?), honestly he was going to fly into the parking lot hooked into a fully powered kite. He managed to get to the shoreline wit me holding him, after tip toeing among a field of windsurfers only feet apart from one another. One big gust, footslip or mistake and this kiter could have been jerked through a patch of 10-15 windsurfers.
I warned this person that they had just executed a very bad launch IMO.

- The third kiter made it out on a best 7m and the bridle broke pretty much immediately.

Just a reminder to everyone that Magnuson park is an extremely dangerous launch in gale force winds, for the following reasons:

- There is a wind rotor behind the trees -- once the wind gets over 35-40 kts, that wind rotor can very easily luff and then power up a kite and pull the kiter off their feet into the air. This hazard is more manageable in 15-25kt, but always exists -- it becomes really volatile above 35 kts -- no matter how good the depower on a kite or experienced the kiter, changes in wind direction can be too much

- There are a parking lot, trees and bathrooms downwind of the launch with a number of signposts and other obstacles in between

- The grass is frequently wet and very slippery, allowing no traction to absorb big gusts - (I have watched a guy break both feet after he slipped on the grass and got pulled into a big rock

- Moderate to strong southwesterly winds (of only 20-25kts) can make the launch equally unsafe. I have tried water launching in offshore sw'erlies and this seems to be an OK alternative. (water launching on a SE'erly will not work)

Just a reminder, Dan Bergin, an experienced Seattle kiter, died at Magnuson park last year in winds very similar to Saturday's windstorm.

Just to be clear, there is a serious accident waiting to happen at Magnuson in these specific conditions. Please help to educate kiters on these hazards. Every year, we see people show up who are not aware of how dangerous this launch can be in gale force winds and strong southwesterlies.

Of course, any storm wind can be dangerous and can spike suddenly, so these conditions are not the only barometer for when Magnuson becomes unsafe. All I am saying is that the danger becomes more predictable and more pronounced in these kinds of conditions, IMO.

Just my $.02.

av
Last edited by Advance on Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby DanielStoner » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:59 am

Great post, AV. I'm going to move it to the Safety thread, but keep it alive in the main right now. I'm also going to turn it into a stickie so everyone sees it in the safety thread.

Daniel
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P.S. I edited your post to correct the spelling on Dan's name. RIP.
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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby Advance » Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:37 pm

Thanks Daniel, sorry for the shoddy write-up and thanks for the correction -- I just wanted to get this post out there.

And just one last note. It really is safer, IMO, to deploy the safety system, drop the bar and let the kite flag/drop onto the water, in these kinds of winds, instead of trying to land the kite on the grass...

When you get wind over 35-40 kts, landing the kite becomes a much bigger safety issue.

This post is just my opinion, btw.
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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby Natron » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:25 pm

That couple that you mentioned was none other than Naish rider Raquel Lima.
http://www.raquellima.com/Bio.html
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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby Advance » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:46 pm

i just noted she is Paul Franco's sister to boot -- sounds like she is a seasoned instructor -- we noted her skills on the water... definitely a great rider....

Btw, just to be clear, my comments on the launch dangers at Magnuson are not really targeting anyone in particular nor associated with any particular level (beginner or advanced).

The main safety issue with her launch was that if her kite got hit with one of the massive gusts, traction is really hard to hold on that grass after it has rained. Right downwind are trees and big rocks. Her boyfriend swam into the water to launch her kite (a bit sketchy, not ideal, but hey it worked). It probably looked like and was in fact the best way to launch in those conditions.

I liked Craig's idea of putting bark on the grass to minimize slippage, but that solution is not really an option because we can't spread the mulch over the grassy areas...
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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby PinkVoldo » Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:19 pm

The biggest boneheads I saw at Mags on Sat were the punk-ass pole smurfers that launched while we were pulling weeds!
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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby Salmonslayer » Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:25 pm

Advance wrote:- Moderate to strong southwesterly winds (of only 20-25kts) can make the launch equally unsafe. I have tried water launching in offshore sw'erlies and this seems to be an OK alternative. (water launching on a SE'erly will not work) av


Thanks for the post.

What do you mean by Water launching on a SE'erly will not work? I must have a different picture in my head.

When I have solo launched (never in high winds though) I place the kite on the grass next to the water just downwind of the tree to the north side of the launch. I then walk up the beach in the water to where I can stand with my feet well planted and sort of drag the kite into the water with the LE down and toward the wind. On a SE this works well. I can usually hold my stance until the kite goes up on a wingtip and then just drag away from the shore. When the wind moves towards SW the kite just sits in the water and will not swing out due to the wind shadow from the tree and bushes. This is safest way I know to launch when kiting alone at Magnuson

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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby Advance » Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:20 pm

hey Paul, by water launch what I meant was, for instance, during the last big SW'erly, I was able to have someone go and drop my kite down in the water, leading edge down, and then let the kite pull itself and me offshore until the kite was in the windline. At that point, I could self launch the kite while swimming. It took me about 10 minutes to launch the kite this way.

This would not be possible for me on a SE'erly because the kite would get blown into shore -- SE'erlies are onshore, SW'erlies are offshore at mags.

This is now my preferred way of launching a kite on SW'erlies. I've had too many (of my own) kites do the hindenburg and drop straight out of the sky (and then land on brambles only to hear that pfffffffff sound as one of my bladders gets machine gunned by blackberry thorns). Of course, the brambles are no longer an issue since the cleanup.... :-)

I'm actually having trouble visualizing how you are water launching. Maybe you can show me next time I see you at mags. I'm always interested in more safe ways to launch there.
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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby bix » Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:11 pm

Adam brings up some great points about using your head and understanding the risks involved. I challenge you all to speak up if you see something that you consider unsafe, regardless of the location. Do it in a respectfull way please. This is our community to protect and defend.

Caution will always be rewarded! Even a calculated risk can have serious consequences.

Be Safe First!
make it happen

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Re: Warning/caution note about Magnuson launch conditions

Postby J.L. » Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:39 pm

When is someone going to sneak into the park at night and cut down those trees? They would only have to weaken them and they would fall over in the next storm. Im just kidding

Lets not forget that the lake will get colder in the winter than Puget Sound. RB is a much better local alternative, IMO.
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