On Saturday morning (November 26), a Texas City kitesurfer packed up his gear and headed toward the beach. Mere hours later, however, his enjoyable weekend adventure turned into a nightmare, with the Coast Guard rushing to his aid.
Though kitesurfing is a thrilling sport, it’s also exceptionally dangerous. Kitesurfers are largely at the mercy of the wind, which can be both brutal and unpredictable. Even a normal kitesurfer (not a professional racer) can reach speeds exceeding 40 mph, the wind attempting to rip the kite from your grip and drag you out of control.
This is perhaps what happened to the Texas kitesurfer, as he was found clinging to a piece of floating wood rather than his board. At just before 1:00 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Coast Guard received a report from Texas City dispatch.
In it, emergency services explained that there was a man floating off the coast of Texas City on a piece of wood. And though he was sporting a wetsuit for warmth, he was not wearing a life jacket, dramatically increasing the risk of a fatal accident.
Unsure of the man’s condition, Coast Guard Station Galveston launched its 29-foot Response Boat-Small and called in the 45-foot Response Boat-Medium for assistance. The latter crew was already at sea, so they simply re-routed toward the stranded kitesurfer’s coordinates.
The RB-M crew arrived first, pulling the man and his equipment from the sea and assessing his condition. Finding that he had suffered no injuries or hypothermia, they transferred him to the smaller vessel. The RB-S crew then transported him safely to shore where Texas City Fire Department personnel waited to assess the kitesurfer’s health further.
Coast Guard Warns Kitesurfer to Wear a Life Jacket at All Times
Following the incident, Coast Guard officials warned that anyone participating in water activities of any kind in the Gulf should wear a life jacket. Though cumbersome and somewhat uncomfortable, floatation devices can be the difference between life and death.
“Everyone should utilize a life jacket regardless of the activities (they) have planned,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeff Wideman said in a news release. “Life jackets provide flotation and high visibility, making it easier for search and rescue crews to locate you in the water.”
As of now, it remains unclear how the man ended up in the water. That said, kitesurfing accidents aren’t at all uncommon. Though not as dangerous as land sports like tackle football, a 2016 study revealed that kitesurfers face a greater risk of injury when compared to windsurfers and other water athletes.
“Kitesurfers had a higher injury rate and required transport by ambulance, inpatient hospital stays, and operative treatment more often than windsurfers, even though the severity of the injuries does not differ,” the study reads. “Most patients sustained minor injuries, but severe injuries also occurred. The lower extremities were affected the most, followed by the head and cervical spine, the upper extremities, and the trunk.”