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Holiday weekend = carnage at Rufus.

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Since 10 Mar 2005
631 Posts


PostMon Jul 04, 05 9:24 am    Holiday weekend = carnage at Rufus. Reply with quote

It’s sadly like Deja Vu all over again…

forwarded from storm warnings forum:

I heard that a kiter took out two beachgoers at Rufus yesterday which
required several ambulances. I hope everyone is ok especially the
bystanders. I also hope that this does not presage the closing of
Rufus to kites and sailboards.

Anybody have firsthand details??

Keep Rufus Safe!

Ann Peacock
Posted on 7/3/2005 5:43:11 PM on storm warnings forum

I am the person who was struck by the kiter on Saturday July 2nd at
Rufus. It is unfortunate that anyone would put their own safety as
well as the safety of others at rish when they know the inherant
danges of kiteboarding or windsurfing at a site that is known for
high, gusty wiinds and with so many people around the beach area. At
the site a bystander asked the kiter why he was launching from the
particular area and his response was that his kids were playing in the
cove area, which is where kiteboarders sometimes launch from. So I
guess keeping them out of danger but putting other lives at rish was
not a concern and he informed the bystander that he knew what he was
doing.... Oh, Yeah, right..... First of all the kiter was
approximately 150 feet from the waters edge and was preparing to
launch from that area, while the kite launcher was at the waters edge.
I think the positions were reversed !!!!! Isn't it usually that the
kiter is at the waters edge and the launch person is 100 or so feet up
the beach? My friend and I were sitting on the beach about 30 feet
from the water when we suddenly heard this grinding noise of the kiter
out of control, and heading for us at mach speed. He hit me with such
force and my girlfriend took the remainder of the full body impact The
kiter was stopped by a tree. His was a sensless act of
irresponsibility, a solid disregard for the safety of himself and
others and if he cannot adhere to these concerns or common sense
approach, then he should not be on the water. We were transported via
ambulance to the Dalles hospital where fortunately all xrays were
negative and I sustained a bruised kidney from the kiters knee burying
itself in my side.
I am sure all of you kiters in the Gorge area know this individual. He
used to be a board shaper but now has a yen to be a kiter..... He
maybe ought to stick to making windsurfing boards if he has not the
ability to recognize dangerous conditions.....
This act of selfish behavior reflects on all who enjoy any of the
water sports here in the Gorge and will tend to give the Core of
Engineers a reason to close down sites we have so enjoyed over the
Reading the email about the person in Utah who lost their life becasue
they crashed on the water several times before succuming to a fatal
crash only reminded me that the individual who struck my friend and me
could have been our first Gorge fatality in the kiting world had we
not broken his fall. That being said,
I am a windsurfer and I will say "Be careful what you wish for (those
who think windsurfing is cancelled) cause Kiteboarding might be at
risk too"

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Since 27 Apr 2005
538 Posts
Hood River

PostMon Jul 04, 05 10:04 am    thanks Reply with quote

Thanks for posting. I think it helps everyone to hear the specifics on what happened. I know I am as much to blame as anyone for not calling someone on-the-spot for launching in an unsafe way. With your experience in mind, I will make a better effort to talk to someone before launching in what appears to be an unsafe way or location.


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Since 27 Feb 2005
6553 Posts
Couve / Hood
Site Lackey

PostMon Jul 04, 05 10:18 am     Reply with quote

Yikes, any more details on the circumstances of the accident?

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Since 04 Jul 2005
26 Posts


PostMon Jul 04, 05 11:43 am     Reply with quote

I was at Rufus and know the kiter involved well. He is one of the original kiters in the gorge with lots of experience but was under a lot of pressure to launch away from the beach where children swim and play. I did not see the launch but I do know it was a place where he has launched many times before. There was a good deal of tension between kiters and families with small children at Rufus on Saturday since the best place to launch is also the best place for kids to play and swim. This only seems to be a problem on busy weekends but it would be good to figure out some sort of comprimise where kiters can launch safely and still leave room for families with children. It is really unfortunate that this accident occured and really ironic that it involved one of the more responsible kiters I know.

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Since 05 Jul 2005
372 Posts
White Salmon

PostTue Jul 05, 05 6:04 am     Reply with quote

Why can somebody not do a water launch from Rufus when its crowded with little kids? is that considered uncool?


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Since 27 Feb 2005
6553 Posts
Couve / Hood
Site Lackey

PostTue Jul 05, 05 9:20 am     Reply with quote

alankitesurf2 wrote:
Saw a pretty scary launch accident Saturday at Rufus in the gorge. Windy day gusty 25-30 and very crowded with windurfers, kiters and kids playing in water. Most kiters launching downwind of main beach but due to kids playing in that area one kiter decided to launch upwind at main windsurfer area. Standard launch here is to have kiter walk as far as possible into water and assistant launch from small berm. For some reason this kiter lauched "backwards" with assistant holding kite down by water and him standing 100ft onshore with lnes draped over and around many grumbling beachgoers. Very predictable what happened as he launched- the kite fisrt fell into wind shaddow from berm then violently powered up as the kite rose into the wind. He was pulled across crowded beach at high rate of speed and slammed into two women just before hitting a tree trunk broadside.From where I was watching in the water it looked like he would have been badly injured. Lucky for him hitting the two women likely saved him from serious harm.Paramedics came and transported both women to the local hospital with a suspected broken leg and other with internal injuries. Later it was found that both had only bad bruises and only casualty was the 65year old womens wetsuit-which was cut off her by paramedics. Fufus is one of the best kite lauches in the gorge- lets hope it stays open-be careful!

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Since 10 Mar 2005
631 Posts


PostTue Jul 05, 05 9:41 am     Reply with quote

Maybe the gorge will finally get off it’s collective ARSE and get organized.

I just returned from Rio Vista and was really impressed with a couple of things.

1. the wind
2. the wind
3. the wind (this place rocks!!!)
4. the sites organization

Rio’s main launch (not ki topia up wind) SUCKS yet there is adequate signage & a adequate supply of ‘beach generals’ directing launching & landing.

While Rufus is very different from Rio, a few things can be learned.

1. Invest in signage for both kiters and general public.
2. See number one.
3. Improve the sight. Has anyone approach Rufus to move the 20 foot mound of rocks that so many kite boarder are shocking oblivious to???

I personally know the town of Rufus is very opened and supportive to the kiting community , however they don’t own the land, the army does.

It will be a very sad day if Rufus gets closed and the ‘work arounds” that will without argument increase the risk of getting to the water.

Think how fun launching at The Wall will be…

John Penxa founder

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Since 11 May 2005
1004 Posts

PostTue Jul 05, 05 9:48 am     Reply with quote

John is totallly right. We need to step up and be proactive about saving access throuhgout the gorge! Remember the 6 P's, Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

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Since 10 Mar 2005
631 Posts


PostTue Jul 05, 05 10:25 am     Reply with quote

IMHO Rufus needs 3 things.

Signs for the un-educated general pulbic.
Signs and general “guidelines” for the riders.
The rock pile moved or flatten.

At Rio the signage went as far to say that if your not going up wind, you don’t belong at this site. (or something to that effect)

While that may seem a wee bit harsh at first glance, the truth sometimes hurts but arguably hurts a hell of lot less than a broken leg.

Btw. I’ve been kiting since 2000 and have witnessed 3 kite induced broken legs… (make that 2, one was flip flop induced at a kitebeach)

Anyway trust me, the truth is far less painful!


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Since 16 May 2005
453 Posts


PostTue Jul 05, 05 5:23 pm     Reply with quote

I was at rufus all day Saturday, and launched 3 times, as well as helping multiple people. The first 2 times, I just walked into the water and launched from about the middle of the beach—easy. Last time I launched in the cove—even easier, but need good kite control for the fluky wind.

After reading the horror stories from weeks ago, I was surprised just how many decent launch options there actually are. This is one of the less scary places I have launched. Also, the cove usually was not that crowded with people—most people launched there. And if there are 2 kids, how hard is it to ask them to move for 10 seconds?

It seems like this guy was trying to overthink the problem and get too fancy. Anyways, launching in the water is just fine (no need to swim), and if you have really long lines the kite could be on the hill upwind of the pile, or maybe even downwind of it. But standing 100 ft away from water and above the 15ft hill, with the tree in front of you, is just idiotic.

Sure, the launch is not sandbar easy, but I see way more dangerous situations at the sandbar with people being powered up next to innocents, and landing their kites right next to families. Maybe the problem is that people try the same techniques at rufus.

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