Coast Guard urges kitesurfing safety after multiple rescues

SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard is reminding kitesurfers Friday to operate with caution after Coast Guard crews conducted multiple rescues of downed kitesurfers in the past week in the San Francisco Bay.

Coast Guard responders attributed this week’s distress calls to a combination of weather and inexperience, and are reminding kitesurfers to take precautions.

Kitesurfers should always have a reliable method for calling for help, such as a handheld, waterproof marine VHF radio. They should also check the forecast before going out to find out when wind speed will be optimal, as low winds can result in becoming stranded.

“Kitesurfing, along with many other sea-going sports, such as kayaking and boogie boarding, can be deceptively difficult activities,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bonnie Shaner, the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco response department head. “It’s important to know weather conditions before heading out, to take a VHF radio when possible and to never go to the beach alone. It also helps to have a more experienced friend that can help you learn to enjoy all the summertime activities California has to offer.”

The Coast Guard responded to two cases this week after downed kitesurfers contacted the Coast Guard via VHF radio. One kitesurfer was drifting near the Golden Gate Bridge and a second kitesurfer was adrift near Alcatraz Island.

Coast Guard Station Golden Gate 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crews responded to both cases and retrieved the kitesurfers prior to transferring them to awaiting EMS personnel on shore.

The Coast Guard recommends that all kitesurfers wear a life jacket and a helmet, carry a hand-held radio while in the water and always let someone know when you’re heading out and when you plan to return. Additionally, the Coast Guard recommends that kitesurfers mark their equipment with name and contact information in the event they get separated from their equipment.

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