Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Andrew Smit » Fri, 28 Jul 1995 04:00:00


In the midst of the recent debate over wearing lifejackets & helmets and
whether we're required to use them or not, is the implication that
windsurfing is dangerous.  But HOW dangerous is it?  Does anyone really
have any reliable information about the types and numbers of windsurfing
injuries or deaths?  And is there a great difference in between beginner
& advanced sailors?

This was all a theoretical debate until three weeks ago when I dislocated
my shoulder on Maui.  I was wearing a wetsuit, but not a PFD.  If it
hadn't been for a passing sailor (thanks, whoever that was) AND the
lifeguard with a jetski, I'd have lost my rented rig, my life, or both.

Despite this injury, I'm still reluctant to wear a PFD because it's
annoying and silly-looking.  I don't think I'm good enough for a helmet
yet (my speeds are hardly death-defying).  I'd love for someone to
respond to this with some facts that will scare me into being more
careful, or at least justify my stupidity.

Thanks,
-andrew smith

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Alex Bro » Fri, 28 Jul 1995 04:00:00


...

Quote:
>Despite this injury, I'm still reluctant to wear a PFD because it's
>annoying and silly-looking.  I don't think I'm good enough for a helmet
>yet (my speeds are hardly death-defying).  I'd love for someone to
>respond to this with some facts that will scare me into being more
>careful, or at least justify my stupidity.

Just think about how silly you would look in a coffin.

I don't have any statistics about WS injuries but have found that wearing a lifejacket
isn't annoying at all if it's the right type.  I got one that was designed for kayaking, which means
that it's short enough so that it doesn't interfere with my waist harness and allows for
unrestricted arm movement.  I don't remember the maker, though if anyone is interested, I can
look it up.  I've been wearing it enough so that now I feel *** without it.

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by rjack.. » Fri, 28 Jul 1995 04:00:00

I wear a helmet all the time now. I've been hit by other people's falling masts both in the launch area and on
the water. I wear a life jacket in most conditions 5.5m and below because at the speeds you can attain with
modern equip. any collision with another sailor can be disasterous to one or both. Also if you sail anywhere
near jetskis or skiboats a helmet makes a lot of sense. They pay me good money for what I know, and this
allows me to buy lots of toys. A bad head injury might just end my employment as well as my windsurfing.
I had a recent experience on San Luis Reservoir where another good sailor just kept getting in my face and
chased him down and explained the "rules of the road". As I was derigging he came up and made some
comment that I must be afraid on the water  because I was one of the few wearing a helmet. I think my
reply made a lot of sense. I said " I wear my helmet for protection from guys like you, not from fear! I've
twisted some ankles and gotten leg cramps where my lifejacket may have kept me from getting separated
from my rig as I really can';t swim or tread water very well when my legs are not fully functional.
I can't give you any statistics but my experiences have led me to buy a good comfortable life jacket (Made
by Perception Kayaks) and I just got a new Hed Tech helmet from Barton at Hatteras Island Windsurfing .
The Hed Tech is very comfortable and fits like a glove. I hardly notice I've got it on.


 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by DANA K. YANCE » Fri, 28 Jul 1995 04:00:00


Quote:

>In the midst of the recent debate over wearing lifejackets & helmets
and
>whether we're required to use them or not, is the implication that
>windsurfing is dangerous.  But HOW dangerous is it?  Does anyone
really
>have any reliable information about the types and numbers of
windsurfing
>injuries or deaths?  And is there a great difference in between
beginner
>& advanced sailors?

>This was all a theoretical debate until three weeks ago when I
dislocated
>my shoulder on Maui.  I was wearing a wetsuit, but not a PFD.  If it
>hadn't been for a passing sailor (thanks, whoever that was) AND the
>lifeguard with a jetski, I'd have lost my rented rig, my life, or
both.

>Despite this injury, I'm still reluctant to wear a PFD because it's
>annoying and silly-looking.  I don't think I'm good enough for a
helmet
>yet (my speeds are hardly death-defying).  I'd love for someone to
>respond to this with some facts that will scare me into being more
>careful, or at least justify my stupidity.

>Thanks,
>-andrew smith


As the day grew to an end, tired from some terriffic monsoon gusts, I
said to myself, "One more time."
I put on the harness. I put on my gloves. I put on my sun glasses. I
put on some sunblock. I wear tennis shoes for protection from the rocks
and a T-shirt for protection from the sun. The gust was great, really
great. To great for myself as well as many others on the water. Maybe
it was a down shear. All I know is the white caps were over my head and
the weight of my clothes, shoes and harnes was just to much for me once
I hit the water and lost contact with my board and rig. I couldn't
catch my breath, I was sinking with each stroke and scared as *&%#.
Where was my PFD? On shore where I wish I had stayed....
A motor boat operator thru me a PFD and I floated to shore. If I'm
crusin' I don't wear a PFD, if I'm screamin' I wear a PFD.
It can happen in a second and may be to late for you or a loved one.
Use it or LOSE it!
 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Jean Rystrom/Dallas Di » Fri, 28 Jul 1995 04:00:00



Quote:



> ...
> >Despite this injury, I'm still reluctant to wear a PFD because it's
> >annoying and silly-looking.  I don't think I'm good enough for a helmet
> >yet (my speeds are hardly death-defying).  I'd love for someone to
> >respond to this with some facts that will scare me into being more
> >careful, or at least justify my stupidity.

> Just think about how silly you would look in a coffin.

> I don't have any statistics about WS injuries but have found that wearing a lifejacket
> isn't annoying at all if it's the right type.  I got one that was designed for kayaking, which means
> that it's short enough so that it doesn't interfere with my waist harness and allows for
> unrestricted arm movement.  I don't remember the maker, though if anyone is interested, I can
> look it up.  I've been wearing it enough so that now I feel *** without it.

I've worn a PFD since I started windsurfing (I don't wave sail).  I now
sail exclusively in the Gorge.  I've never found the PFD to inhibit me.  I
also use a short PFD so it doens't interfer with the hook.  It keeps me
warmer in the cold weather.

I have worn a helmet for the last couple of years.  When I first got the
helmet, I didn't think I was good enough to use it except in hing winds.
That day I got launched harder then I ever had before.  I sailed back in
and put on my helmet.  I've worn it ever since.  

One thing to consider is the other bozos on the water.  I've sailed in
conditions so crowded that I had to sail within 15 feet of people passing
the other way.  If they lost it at the point, their mast could nail me.

Also, I've had a couple of experiences of wiping out and coming up just
when the mast decided to land on my head.  With the helmet, I hardly even
noticed it.

One more thing, since I've been wearing the helmet, I've never lost my
Specs in a wipe out because they are on under my helmet.

As far as image goes, I was one of the first to wear a bicycling helmet
(Bell Biker, serial # 467) and now all the cool people do.  Note the "cool"
cyclist that died in the recent Tour de France DID NOT have a helmet.  I'm
sure his wife and 4 month old daughter appreciate that.  You spend as much
on a helmet as you feel your head is worth.

Dallas

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by ramo » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

Quote:
> The first time I clocked myself on the head while windsurfing was on my
> first lesson.  If there's enough power to rip the sail from your hands,
> the rig can give you a good shot.  

> Sorry about the dislocation.

> If I'm fully powered, I wear a Protec.  I plan to add to it a face
> protector soon, too.

As long as you hold on to the boom at all times, you will never get hit
by your rig.

I think it is more important to wear a wetsuit at all times, then to
wear a helmet or a life jacket.

Ramon

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Hen.. » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

- buy yourself a life vest that looks good, so that you don't feel
  silly wearing it. If you would, you'd leave the vest on shore ..
  A good start are the vests used for skimboarding or jetskiing.
  They look good _and_ fit snuggly to the body. They also offer
  some impact protection. (I have an O'Neill, it's $130, but good)

- when considering leaving the life vest on shore, just think that
  it's much quicker waterstarting with the vest on. Especially with
  larger, cambered sails who like storing water in the mast pocket,
  it makes a big difference to have an extra 4kg or so of lift when
  you push the darn thing out of the water.
  This is also an important point regarding looking silly. If you
  waterstart quickly, you don't look silly.

- Use a helmet in tough conditions, i.e. big waves or high speed.
  Use one which allows for good ventilation and that doesn't have
  open-cell foam etc which could soak water and/or stink. Remember
  that you loose a lot of heat energy over your head, so in cold
  conditions, the helmet increases endurance.

- I use a vest also for a special wavesurfing thing that works
  just locally, even there are lots of spectators and everybody
  tries to be as cool as possible. Just ignore the crowd. Even
  better: if the spectators only go by the looks, they are worth to be
  ignored and you can be glad some preselection already took
  place.

Cheers,
  Henrik

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by MclAl » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

I think a helmet makes a great deal of sense.  Any combination of being
hit hard in the head (by your mast, boom or board) and being stuck under
your sail or unable to catch a runaway board leaves you in a bad
situation.  The head impact itself doesn't have to be hard enough to do
you in, just hard enough to disable you for several seconds...IMHO!
 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Jack Fall » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

:
: Despite this injury, I'm still reluctant to wear a PFD because it's
: annoying and silly-looking.  I don't think I'm good enough for a helmet
...

Once it gets to 5.0 conditions I usually opt for a helmet, but pass on the PFD.

looking silly doesn't cut it-- anyone wearing a helmet and a harness already
looks pretty wierd.

 There is a downside to a PFD and  that involves
what happens when you crash.  With a PFD you stay on top and the mast and boom
comes down on top of you and you absorb all of the impact.  If you sink for
a few seconds, the impact is taken by the water.  I suspect there might
even be more injuries with a conventional PFD.  I believe a specialized
compact inflatable PFD makes most sense.  Admittedly, if you are knocked out
you won't be able to inflate it-- on the other hand you are more likely
to be knocked out wearing a conventional PFD.  

--
Jack Faller
Deparment of Chemistry
Yale University

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Jaime Corde » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

Quote:

>I think a helmet makes a great deal of sense.  Any combination of being
>hit hard in the head (by your mast, boom or board) and being stuck under
>your sail or unable to catch a runaway board leaves you in a bad
>situation.  The head impact itself doesn't have to be hard enough to do
>you in, just hard enough to disable you for several seconds...IMHO!

Dean Karnazes (expert pro or near-pro sailor and perenial Windtracks cover
boy) was found face down in the surf a few years ago. Yeah, he made it,
thanks to his buddies, but...

As far as the rig hitting you after a crash, I agree with one of the
previous posters: just hold onto the rig, or at least, until your sure
you're clear.

Tom Patipov (local SFBay hero and clinic instructor) tells the story
of being an expert and then trying out helmets just for fun. It was really
irritating, because every time he jibed, the mast hit his helmet. Later,
he realized that the mast had ALWAYS been whizzing by that close (3/8 to
5/8 of an inch) to his head, but he never noticed it before. An unanticipated
bit of chop, a little bounce, a little gust: BONK !

I always take a helmet, and I always wear it when I don't feel I'm in
*complete* control of the situation: this means excessive kooks on the beach,
just plain too many people, I haven't sailed in gusty 40 knot winds in a while,
I might be trying a new manuver, whatever.

Getting bonked on the head, whether serious or not, definitely cuts down
the fun factor.

Except in waves, I ALWAYS wear a life jacket:
   1) superior padding for crashes, alone or with someone else to share
         the experience
   2) extra warmth against the wind
   3) extra convenience while waterstarting:
      a) water doesn't get in my face as much. I have plenty of other
         opportunities to have salt foam blown up my nose, and at a much
         higher speed.
      b) easier leverage getting equipment into place
      c) less distance to get onto the board. Especially noticeable in
          light wind conditions.
   4) Things happen.
      a) getting konked on the head. Life jacket improves surviveability.
      b) equipment breakdown: spend the night on the bay. Life jacket
         keeps you higher, face out of the water. Better visibility for
         you (where was that board again ?), makes you easier to see for rescue.

      c) personal injury: it's easier to recover if you're at least somewhat
          floaty. Wetsuits aren't enough. If others need to work on you, you
          are definitely easier to handle with the lifejacket on.

As to the silly appearance argument, that's just, well, silly. How
good can anyone look wearing a diaper with a prosthetic device/codpiece
sticking out of the front of it ?

As to inconvenience, any lifejacket made for active sports will take care of
this argument. The only ones that are inconvenient are the old, traditional,
"passengers as ballast" types, and those are kind of hard to get anymore.

In the final analysis, it's your life (or not).

Good luck,

Jaime
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------

<.signature under construction>
-----------------------------------------------------------------

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by ELenna » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

Even if you decide not to wear a life jacket you should always wear a
helmet. I'm like you, not the best windsurfer, however, there have been
three instances where I've been hit in the head by the boom and mast which
would have knocked me unconcious had I not been wearing a helmet. If
you're knocked unconcious in the water, its almost a sure bet you will
die. I had a friend knocked unconcious in a very slow moving boating
accident, no helmet, no life jacket, he sank so fast that we could get to
him, he's dead now. Get a helmet, they cost about $20 and are well worth
the money. And wear some sort of flotation (wetsuit, lifejacket etc)

Eric Lennane

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Brian Cunningh » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

  [snippage]

Quote:
> ...  I believe a specialized
> compact inflatable PFD makes most sense.  Admittedly, if you are knocked out
> you won't be able to inflate it-- on the other hand you are more likely
> to be knocked out wearing a conventional PFD.  
> Jack Faller
> Deparment of Chemistry
> Yale University


Something else to consider with a PFD...  Most of the ones that we would use
sailing wouldn't do you any good if you get knocked out since they aren't
designed to float you face up.  They are just designed to float you.  A
person would have to wear something like what's used by the drag boaters (ie
really tall collar that blocks side vision, but floats face up).  Then
you have to worry about not being able to see.  An inflatable PFD makes
good sense to me, might have to get one.  And I wear a helmet...
The Dog's Most Humble Opinion...

May your board be fast, your water be clean,  
your gybes be smooth and far between...

Brian "Rude Dog" Cunningham       /-------------------------------------\
Windsurfing Boardhead, NRA Life & | Owner, Proprietor, Brew Master and  |

 * All Usual Disclaimers Apply *  \-------------------------------------/
Bic Hip Hop and Presto, Mistral Screamer, Tiga 260, Dynafiber, Windwing,
Gulftech, and a 1/2 ton Chevy chase truck :-)   Life is Good....  

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Billwi » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

I agree with others in this thread about the value of safety versus the
potential
for looking "geeky".

While I am a fanatic windsurfer (who normally puts in about 107 sailing
sessions a year), I have come to realize in my old age, that I have a life
outside
of windsurfing too.  An injury caused by a conk on the head from my mast,
or drowning after loosing my rig in some of the conditions that we sail in
during
winter, would kinda put a damper on my family's plans for a happy life...I
always
wear a life jacket and helmet in non-longboard conditions, and have never
found
them to be either a hinderance, or a horrible fashion faux paus.

I am still disappointed after all my years of sailing in the Gorge, that I
don't
see more sailors down there using safety gear.  The number of collisions I
have
witnessed, and the number of times I have rescued downed sailors who
really
could have used some lifejacket floatation is getting up into the multiple
dozen
range of occurances.

Slighly off the topic..

I am equally dismayed by the lack of safety sense
shown by some Gorge-ites when it comes to on-the-water practises and
courtesy shown at sites like the Hatchery (particularly by a few
well-known
team riders, who attempt to act radical on every move, and typically end
up
splattering at least one unfortunate downwind sailor during their average
session,
while going for that "Kodak moment" for the crowd on the rocks),
but then, I mentioned this topic last
year in this forum and got flamed severely for my opinions, so I will
leave this
topic to another thread...I am sure that this behavior by certain of our
younger
sailors is known to occur at other crowded, world renowned sites as well.

--Bill Nelson
  grouchy old curmudeon

  Tacoma, WA

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Walter Clar » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00

Quote:
>As long as you hold on to the boom at all times, you will never get hit
>by your rig.

As long as you never fall off your upright board you dont get wet either.

Of course to do either you are either superhuman or not trying hard
enough...

Walter

 
 
 

Windsurfing injuries & deaths

Post by Sting-a-ling-a-ding-do » Sat, 29 Jul 1995 04:00:00



Quote:

>Despite this injury, I'm still reluctant to wear a PFD because it's
>annoying and silly-looking.  I don't think I'm good enough for a helmet
>yet (my speeds are hardly death-defying).  I'd love for someone to
>respond to this with some facts that will scare me into being more
>careful, or at least justify my stupidity.

    Well, Andrew, sorry that this won't scare you because our sport IS safe.
A helmet is recomended if it is 5.0 or windier.  Last year the US Coast Guard
released a study of boating related deaths, and under windsurfing there was
less than 5 per year.  Now, compare this driving your car and other activities
such as crossing the street, I bet more people die a year doing that. (Even
taking into acount the number of participants...)

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