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In crowded conditions the possibility to collide with other kiters exists. 
It is important to know how to react and behave in order to avoid accidents. 
The following are the most common right of way rules for kiteboarders.

Avoid collisions at all costs.


Follow the rules but not to the point of having a collision, even if you have right of way, you must act prudently to avoid an accident. Some sailors don't know the rules. This is part of the "prudential rule".

The Prudential Rule: There is no rule that excuses you, for not knowing the weather, having the correct gear, keeping a proper lookout, and avoiding accidents (Acting Prudently).


  • The incoming Kiter gives way to the outgoing kiter who is launching.

Situation: one kite is launching and ready to leave the beach, and another kiter wants to come in and land at the same time.

Definition: The launching kiter is standing with their lines tensioned obviously ready to launch.

What to do: The incoming kiter should turn around and go back out for another tack, while the launching kiter gets off the beach.


  • The upwind kiteboarder gives way to the downwind kiteboarder.

Situation: when two kiters are on the same tack but their paths will cross. Usually the upwind kiter is not pointing as high as the downwind kiter.

Definitions: the upwind kiter is sailing closer to the wind than the downwind kiter.

What to do: The downwind kiter has right of way, so they should continue to ride in the same direction and speed, the upwind kiter must give way, by altering direction or speed, usually slowing and going behind the other kiter. 


  • The kiteboarder on port tack gives way to the kiteboarder on starboard tack.

Situation: When you meet another Kiter head on, and you are both on opposite tacks, the port tack rider gives way to the Starboard tack rider.

Definitions: When you have your kite on the right hand side of the wind window, between 12 and 3oclock. you are riding on "Starboard tack" and have right of way. When you are riding with the kite between 9 o'clock and 12 o'clock. you are said to be on "Port Tack" you must give way.

How to give way: To give way to the Starboard tack rider, you should slow down or alter course (usually downwind keeping your kite low). The kiter of Starboard tack should maintain his direction and speed.


  • When crossing close to another kiter, the upwind kiter keeps his kite high, 

and the downwind kiter keeps his kite low.

Situation: You are riding on the opposite tack from another rider, you are close but but you will miss each other.

Definition: If it is obvious that you do not have to alter course or speed to miss the other rider, you should position your kite to keep it away from the other kite.

What to do: The kiter passing upwind raises their kite, and the downwind kite lowers their kite. Do not move your kite to the point where you will change speed or alter course significantly.


  • Do not jump when you are upwind of another kiter.

Situation: When you are preparing to jump, close to other kiters.

Definition: If any part of your jump will take you over near to, or into the path of another kiter or their gear.

What to do: Keep a clear area ahead behind, and downwind of you before you jump. Keep in mind your jump may not go as planned, you go wipeout, or go higher and further than you planned. Also the other kiter could change course or act unexpectedly.

Look in all directions (including up) before you jump.Keep a proper lookout at all times. Do not ride close to other riders, they could turn unexpectedly. Look in all directions ahead, behind, upwind, downwind, and straight up! There could be another kiter or someone's kite above you!




In addition to the rules above, there is a special set of Waveriding Rules that help clarify what to do in the waves. these rules are applied in order, example, "First to catch the wave" rule, has priority over "rider closest to the peak" rule, or, "upwind rider rule". So the kiter who catches the wave first has priority over a kiter who catches the wave after, but is upwind or closer to the peak.


  • The outgoing Kiteboarder gives way to theincoming kiteboarder.

Situation: When riding out through the surf you are going to cross paths with the incoming kiter on the wave.

Definition: In a wave area, the rules apply. The kiter coming in is riding the wave. and collision is imminent. The outgoing Kiter must give way,and not ruin the incoming kiters ride (or put him in jeopardy).

What to do:  The outgoing kiter should avoid riding out through the peak (waveriding zone). If you cannot go around the zone, then you must either stop, steer around, or go the other way to avoid the kiter riding the wave. It depends which way the kiter is riding the wave.


  • The first kiteboarder to catch a wave, has the wave.

Situation: two kites are trying to catch the same wave.

Definition: The kiter who is up and riding in on the face of wave. The first kiter to ride the wave has the wave. Usually the one who went  farther out to catch the wave.

What to do: The kiter on the wave first continues to ride the wave, the other kiter can go back out, or kick out ahead of the wave to let the other kiter ride through. keep an eye o the other kiter so you can anticipate his intentions. the kilter on the wave may ride upwind or downwind, it is their choice.


  • Where two kiteboarders catch the wave at the same time, the kiteboarder closest to the peak has the wave.

Situation: When two kiters catch the same wave at the same time.

Definition: The peak of the wave is the part of the crest the breaks first. Then as the wave progresses it is the tallest and steepest part of the wave between the open face of the wave and the whitewater.

What to do: The kiter riding closest to the peak should ride the rave. The other kiter that is farther out on the shoulder should keep clear, or get off the wave.


  • When there is no distinct peak, the upwind kiteboarder has the wave.

Situation: Two kiters turn onto a wave at the same time.

Definition, when two kiters catch the wave at exactly the same time, the upwind rider has the wave.

What to do: When you have caught the wave with another rider the downwind kiter yields the wave to the upwind kiter. By either turning off the wave, or kicking out ahead of the wave. Keep eye contact with the other guy so you know their intention.





Kitesurfers have to cooperate with other water users, and there is a system of priority the helps establish hierarchy for right of way.



Situation: Launching and landing on crowded beaches.

Definition: Anyone not involved in kiteboarding, including, onlookers, sunbathers, picnickers, walkers, and joggers. Even fishermen, cyclists. etc.

What to do: Give way to bystanders, and never fly your kite over a non-participant. Do not ask an inexperienced person to launch or land your kite. Keep a safe distance from all bystanders. 



Situation: Never get close enough to come in contact with swimmers of put the at risk. 

Definition: Anyone in the water under their own propulsion. including swimmers, and skin divers, and scuba divers. There are also special rules for Scuba divers displaying a "Dive Flag".

What to do: When close to swimmers, go slow or go the other way.


Surfers, Standup Paddlers, and Rowers

Situation: Any time you get close to one of these.

Definition: Surfers, Bodyboarders, Standup paddlers, and Rowers, kayakers, wave-ski riders, and outrigger canoes. This group are more mobile and better able to avoid a kitesurfer. But a kitesurfer must give way to all these too. This group must give way to bystanders & swimmers.


Windsurfers, and Other Sailing Craft

Situation: When you encounter another sailing craft, you should give way.

Definition: A kite is technically a sailing vessel, BUT the lines, large window, and unpredictability, generally make them incompatible with operating close to other sailboats.

What to do: give way to other sailing craft, keep large buffers between you and other sailing craft. Moderate you speed when close to other sailing vessels, and ride in a predictable pattern. Never fly your kite over a windsurfer or sailing boat. you could clip their mast or worse. Otherwise you should observe normal sailing rules.


Powerboats, Jetskis

Situation: when operating close to powered vessels.

Definition: Power boats give way to sailboats. Power is more maneuverable, and can change direction to avoid collisions. However you should exercise caution around powerboats.

What to do: when navigating with powerboats maintain course and speed so that their drivers can anticipate your movements, and avoid you. moderate your speed, and do your best to keep well clear of them. Boats creates wakes that can cause you to wipeout, and boats are hard objects that you could impact with, not  to mention their propellers etc. Never jump boat wakes with your kiteboard.


Commercial vessels

Situation: When you get close to any commercial vessel.

Definition: Ant vessel engaged in a commercial activity, ferries, sea planes, fishing boats. Recreation boats give way to commercial vessels.

What to do: Stay clear of all commercial vessels, ferries, barges, tankers, tour boats, fishing boats.


Moored boats and Capsized Boats

Situation: maneuvering, navigating amongst moored or capsized vessels.

Definition: Any boat attached to a mooring or at anchor, or otherwise similarly restricted in is ability to maneuver.

What to Do: Stay Clear of all moored vessels, and capsized vessels, including windsurfers water-starting, unmanned boats, Stay clear of other kiters whose kites are down in the water or who are body-dragging.


Racing Boats

Situation: You are free-riding, and come across a sailing race or competition.

Definition: Any organized sailing event especially course or speed racing etc.

What to do: Stay clear of sailboat races or other organized events. If there is a kite contest, you should go ride somewhere else for the day. If you are the one in the race, you can shout aloud "Racing" to let the other sailor that you are in the middle of a race.






  • Know your own kiteboarding ability and stay with your limits.

  • Know the limits of your gear.

  • Know the weather forecast and the wind conditions

  • Know the sailing rules, local rules and riding areas.

  • Make a float and fly plan (tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back).

  • Never Kite alone

  • Do not kite between sunset and sunrise.

  • Never ride further than you can swim

  • If in doubt, don't go out!

  • Do not tailgate other riders

  • Check your gear thoroughly before launching.

  • Do not kite between sunset and sunrise.

  • Do not launch or fly over non-kiteboarders.

  • Maintain a 2 x Kiteline length clear zone around all; Divers, Swimmers, Canoes.

  • Always use a "Kite Leash" & "Depowering Safety Device".

  • Always use a "Quick Release" device.

  • Select a safe launching site.

  • Do not launch close to rocks or other hazards.

  • Do not launch or land at crowded areas.

  • Always announce you are launching a kite.

  • Stay clear of power lines and overhead obstructions.

  • Always maintain a downwind safety buffer zone.

  • Keep windsurfers outside the kite's power-zone.

  • Observe all mapped kitesurfing boundaries.

  • Do not lay kite lines across anyone's path.

  • Give way to all other water users.

  • Landing kitesurfer gives way to the Launching kiter.

  • When consideration has been given to the above, normal sailing rules apply.

  • Prevent kites from re-launching with sand.

  • Disable unattended kites.

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