As a general rule-of- thumb, all traditional sailing and wave sailing rules should be applicable for kitesurfing. Check http://www.sailing.org/newrules/rulesframes/default.html for an excellent description of racing rules of sailing.
All right-of-way rules require a water-craft to keep clear of another. The distance to keep clear is not quite exactly specified; however, the racing rules do specify some restrictions for the two sailing boats when they are approaching within two hull lengths of each other. Thus, as a rule of thumb, it's wise to keep a distance of twice the hull length from the water-craft to be cleared. This is fairly straight forward for all water-crafts except kitesurfing crafts. For a kitesurfing craft, the kite and the lines make this much more complicated. We will discuss this "keep clear" requirement in details after reviewing the common sense, traditional sailing and wave sailing rules.
General Common Sense Rules on the Water
Following are the general common sense rules on the water:
Traditional Sailing Rules
There are three main rules to be observed when two sailing water-crafts approaching each other on the water:
Wave Sailing Rules
These are the main rules when wave sailors approaching each other in the wave:
Wave Sailing Rules
Kitesurfing Enhancement to the Sailing Rules
All the rules above are applicable to kitesurfing. The only enhancement we need to define is how a water-craft shall keep clear of the other if one or both of the water-crafts is a kitesurfing craft.
When kitesurfing, a kitesurfer can fly the kite anywhere in the forward half portion of the wind window. This means that the kitesurfer and the kite normally occupy a space equal a quarter-of-the-sphere that has the kitesurfer at the center and the radius is the line length. If we consider that to be the space to be kept clear or the "hull" of a kitesurfing craft then it could be up to 25 m in length and 25 m in width (25 m is the average modern line length). If we apply the rule-of-thumb keeping clear distance of two hull lengths, this means that we have to keep clear a distance of up to 50 m. This would drastically reduce the number of kitesurfers sailing at a certain place.
Fortunately, the angle where a kitesurfer normally fly the kite is between 30 and 60 degrees vertically. At these angles, the kite is normally high enough in the air that the clearing distance is more or less dependent on the highest point of the other water-craft. If the clearing distance is set at a distance equals 3 times the height of the highest point of the other water-craft, that will allow the upwind kitesurfer to sail with the kite as low as 20 degrees vertically (regardless of the line length).
As two kitesurfers approach each other, the highest points of the kitesurfers could be equal to the line length or 25m. Even if both kitesurfers keep the kites stationary in a moving forward position at 45 degrees vertical, the lines should never collide. However, the upwind kitesurfer should fly the kite high and the downwind kitesurfer should fly the kite low. This way, the two kites will never collide and both kitesurfers have a large margin of error. In such case, the highest point would only be 2.5 m and the minimum clearing distance is only 7.5 m.
The following table summarizes the minimum clearing distance for most water-crafts (either the kitesurfer has to keep clear or the other water-craft has to keep clear) when they approach a kitesurfer:
Without the presence of large boats, the minimum clearing distance is normally at 15 m.
The minimum clearing distance as described in the above table is only applicable if the kitesurfer is upwind of the other water-craft. If the kitesurfer is downwind of the other water-craft, the rule-of-thumb clearing distance of two hull lengths should be applied (unless the other water-craft is a also a kitesurfer).
Additional Kitesurfing Rules
|Water-craft||Highest Points||Minimum Clearing Distance||Other Requirements|
|Surfers||2.5 m||7.5 m||Kitesurfers have to keep clear of surfers all the times|
|Personal Water-crafts||2 - 3 m||9 m||PWCs have to keep clear of the kitesurfer all the times|
|Small to Medium Motorized Boats||5 m||15 m||Motorized boats have to keep clear of the kitesurfer all the times|
|Windsurfers and Small Sailboats||5 m||15 m||Traditional and wave sailing rules should be applied|
|Kitesurfers||2.5 m (upwind kite is high and downwind kite is low)||7.5 m||Traditional and wave sailing rule should be applied. Furthermore, the upwind kitesurfer should fly the kite higher than 45 degrees vertically and the downwind kitesurfer should fly the kite lower than 45 degree vertically|
|Large Motorized Boats||10 - 15 m||30 - 45 m||Motorized boats have to keep clear of the kitesurfer all the time. If the large motorized boat is in narrow, restricted water for its size, the kitesurfer has to keep clear.|
|Medium Sailboats||10 - 15 m||30 - 45 m||Traditional sailing rules should be applied|
|Large Sailboats||Very high||Line length||Traditional sailing rules should be applied. If the large sailboat is in narrow, restricted water for its size, the kitesurfer has to keep clear.|
|Commercial Ships||Very high||Line length||Kitesurfer has to keep clear of commercial ships all the times|