Downwind safety

It’s a ACR unit. ACR Reslink

thats heavy

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It seems like two fully redundant leashes would be a good idea for offshore work where you really don’t want to be swimming in…Two leash inserts, two attachment points to your body

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That clip makes me perhaps wonder most about communication and teamwork than anything else…started with 3 people heading out together…then whoops, where did David go (or was that a serious question, and at what point?)?

I haven’t closely scrutinized the details, but coming from a background in climbing and backcountry skiing, the planning and execution of communication and mutual support for safety seems lacking in the extreme…which, on the upside, suggests lots of potential for improved safety through that route…


I guess because it is all relatively new there is less established safety procedure… more like side-country skiing where it feels safe but is actually incredibly dangerous. You’re right, and I think we can learn cheap lessons by analysing what the surfski and SUP community already learned and apply that to foil. We cover much more distance, which is good when things are going well but pretty serious when things go wrong and you have been covering 1km in 2min!

On the PLB / EPIRB - I had hopes for the iPhone satellite network, but it seems it stops working 20 miles offshore, which while unlikely to be that often a likely position to be in, it somewhat defeats the point of a PLB replacement. Still good to know that you have a backup in case you don’t have cellphone signal.

After a meeting with the RNLI down here (UK) I bought one of these. Hope never to have to use it but they told me how much easier it was for them to find someone in choppy seas with a PLB.

They also said to label kit with a shore contact number in case you get separated from it and they pick it up - they can call to confirm whether you made it in ok.

I went to speak with them in person because I wanted to explain what I was up to to avoid ‘false alarms with good intentions’. It was a productive discussion as most of them had never heard of downwind foiling before and had assumed it was efoilers!



I did a late evening downwind session. It was all downwind into a known beach but it was right before sunset. The conditions were crappy and I had a shocker, meaning I didn’t make the entire 1 mile run to the beach in 5 minutes. I was catching dribs and drabs until it got so dark the street lights were reflecting off the water.

What happens is you lose all depth perspective, rather height perspective. You can’t see the wave you’re taking off on to judge clear angles and altitude. And you’ll be relegated to beginner status popping out of the water with every takeoff. It was spooky.

The message was clear: If you get stuck offshore in the dark your chances of foiling back to the beach are virtually ZERO.
*Until this become some new element of the sport and people start foiling in the dark.


Ya the Zolio is the same and a cheaper yearly subscription. All the mountain guides use them around here.

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Something that keeps coming up - how to avoid being seen by people on shore who call in.

Seems pretty crazy how consistent this is, and how dangerous it is to deliberately avoid lumo colours, which are consistently the key factor in people being saved when they do call in a rescue - (you are entirely invisible in 20kn)

On all days, but especially on wavy days, the best way for the safety boater (and any boater for that matter) to see you is if you’re wearing a brightly colored (orange or yellow) shirt or life jacket…preferably both. A yellow hat helps a little, but really it’s too small do to much good by itself. And, not surprisingly, a white surf ski looks exactly like a whitecap.

The only surf skiers you could see at all from any distance were the ones wearing those bright orange shirts we received last year at the Gorge race. And you could see them for a long, long, long way. It was stunning how well those shirts stood out. And it was no small comfort amongst all those sailboats boater_visibility [Surfski Knowledge Base] .

This is a tricky one, my take on this is much the same, too much high vis can be a problem for false alarms.

However, there is one place where I think it could save your life - the deck of your board.

Because our boards are flat, it’s less likely to be visible from the beach, but from above it will be the difference between life and death, as the tape lights up search cameras (last resort stuff, and if you’re still attached to the board, which itself is absolutely the single most important safety consideration).

I have been placing a few 3m squares on the nose of my boards. I carry a signalling mirror but that is mostly of the nerd consideration.

Offshore surfskis now ship with high visibility reflective decals for the same reason

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My local group chat was just blowing up on how to avoid unwanted rescues after a big search for a “drowning paddle boarder” while a local gal was doing one of her first downwind runs.

It turned out the person who called it in didn’t see her at all, they had called in a rescue for a navigation buoy.

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Yeah, if this sport is canceled it’s gonna be because of well meaning idiot lookie loos trying to do the right thing instead of minding their own goddamn business. Maybe talk to local first responders and see if there’s a way you can email a “float plan” to someone so when they get a call they can just check their email and see “Oho this is a foiler intentionally doing this” and not call in the cavalry.

I’ve also had people fishing at the beach not like that we paddled out inside the 100 yards of beach they decided they owned that day and call in a “surfer in distress” as retaliation.

It doesn’t work. They don’t know someone else didn’t go out that actually does need a rescue.

Lifeguards in LA have said if they get a call they are required to respond.

Only option is to have so many people going that you don’t appear to be alone and in distress, or do short runs to learn. If you’re making long runs it’s not an issue. If you’re paddling and not getting on foil for 5 miles, well maybe you chose the wrong run to learn on.

I think Jon in the video describes it well, get the local rescue unit informed around what you do, what it looks like, what you’ll do to let people know, how they can contact you to confirm all good. At least it diffuses the lack of information on the coast guard side.

For UK, I phone the lifeguards, who then will tell the coastguard that all is good when they get a call in. In winter I call the coastguard directly.

Agree with @TooMuchEpoxy that this is absolutely critical to get right. The issue is that it looks like a disaster when someone is struggling to get on foil. Informing the decision makers that if you keep standing up then you’re fine is probably the crucial bit of public information.