Tips for Lifeguards



The FIRST goal when rescuing a kiteboarder or runaway kite is to DISABLE THE KITE. It’s quite simple & easy, as described below, but it’s necessary because an inflated kite is capable of lifting itself off any surface & creating a huge amount of power (much more than your body weight). This can happen even in winds much too light to kiteboard (such as “becalmed” rescues), when it seems easy to hang onto the inflated kite. If slack kite lines wrap around someone or something, the kite could launch & highly tension the lines, which could then cut or lift someone. This makes the kite a potential hazard to anybody downwind. Rescuing the kiteboarder may be a secondary consideration.

The safest, easiest rescue is to allow the kiteboarder to disable their own kite by winding up their own lines and deflating the kite themselves in the water before being rescued. If the kiter is unable to do this, or if the kite is a runaway then:

1. Approach the kite from the side. Compensate for the speed of downwind drift or movement in any surf or current. Avoid approaching from upwind OR downwind, because from downwind the kite could drift quickly into you, & from upwind you or your vessel could get caught in the lines, which usually trail upwind of the kite.

2. Grab the kite securely by one corner, hang on VERY tightly & do NOT let go. Immediately try to create & maintain some slack in the lines by moving towards the kiter, and let the kite flap downwind like a flag. NEVER grab the lines. Pulling on the lines is the way to relaunch the kite into the air, which you do not want!

3. You can disable MOST kites by deflating like a beach toy:

a) Hold the front inflatable edge of the kite (largest inflatable bladder) securely, work your way carefully to the middle, & open the air valve there. Now the kite is no longer a hazard, & you can rescue the kiter.

b) If it’s too hazardous to attempt deflation, you could cut the short connecting links between the lines & one wingtip (with your hook knife), or as a last resort, puncture the largest bladder.

c) A deflated kite can only be rolled up compactly from each end towards the center (or else air will still be trapped in the bladder). Fold the tip at the smallest bladder & roll it tightly around that bladder until you reach the middle, then repeat from the other tip.

d) The lines can be wrapped around the kite, or, if it was a runaway, they can be pulled in (as long as the dangling lines won’t be a problem) & wrapped around the knobs on the control bar.

4. To disable ANY kite on the beach, put LOTS of sand on the upwind wingtip to prevent movement even in strong gusts. Make sure the lines stay slack. If extra safety is required, you can deflate the main bladder, & even remove or cut the lines off one tip (as described above).

Stingray Hit Prevention and Treatment

How to avoid Stingrays hits and treat Stingray hits

Southern California is home to millions of Stingrays who like to sit in the warm shallow waters.


Don’t walk around in shallow water. Shuffle your feet when entering and leaving the water. One foot forward and follow with your rear foot and a stomp helps to frighten the Stingrays away.


If hit by a Stingray,  most likely it will be a puncture wound on your foot or ankle. If bleeding is severe, apply pressure to the wound and call 911. You will have about 10-15 minutes after a hit before the pain becomes intense.

Quickly pack your gear up or have a friend assist with your kite gear.

Seek medical assistance from Lifeguards who have access to hot water to soak your foot. If hot water is not available, hot air from a vehicles heater may help until you are able to get to hot water.

Soak your foot in hot water – As hot as you can tolerate without it scolding you for around 40 minutes.

Once hot water soaking starts, pain relief will be immediate. The heat from the hot water neutralizes the venom proteins. Avoid pain killers while soaking your foot in hot water – pain killers may dull your sense of pain and you may inadvertently scold yourself.

Portable hot water stingray kits are available from


Zuma Beach


Very onshore but nice long sandy beach to do down wind runs when learning and great onshore pound waves and chop when advanced. Large surf and rip tides can make Zuma very hazardous.

As Zuma can get thousands and thousands of people on a summers day, launching is prohibited for most of the summer unless the beach is obviously empty and the lifeguards are asked.

In winter time, the north end of Zuma is a great place to practice your beach drags in light winds. Watch out for the power lines and towers at the north end and stay near the water line.

The beach just north of Zuma and before Trancas point is a possible kite access area.

This is lined with homes and two access ways were mandated by the City.
The homes have a line of nasty metal low tide/ hi tide markers to keep people off their private beach property.  Extreme caution must be practiced to launch amongst these obstacles and not put the kite onto someone’s roof.

Many beginner/intermediates practice their first downwind runs here leaving a car at the northernmost end of Zuma at Trancas Creek.

Winter time leaves the beach mostly empty and many kite here. If it is a crowded day, be sure to come in and land your kite no further south than Trancas Creek. We have tried to inform all lifeguards of our ability to self rescue and self police. The guards get plenty of rescues without kites thrown in.

Many lifeguards have been shown how to grab a kite when it is landed at all the Malibu State and County beaches.  Don’t take it for granted though. Have a friend ready to grab your kite if at all possible.



Preliminary Kiteboarding Rules for Torrance Beach
(Submitted to Lifeguards for Additional Input)

Use these guidelines established with the cooperation of the Los Angeles County Lifeguards and SCKA members.
Riding Restrictions (violations may result in citations)

Kite leashes are mandatory.
Hands Free Spinning Leash Information here

No riding within 200 feet of shore, unless launching or landing (When launching, go upwind and get 200 feet on as direct a course as possible).

No jumping or jibing within 200 feet of shore unless on-duty lifeguard gives permission.

No jumping near any other watercraft. Allow enough room to prevent any possible equipment failure.

Stay completely away from swimmers and surfers.

Launch Area Restrictions

Downwind riders, body draggers, and students must stay North of Rat Beach. Kiteboarders that can go upwind may rig and launch north of the Rat Beach Tower.

Check with Lifeguard for launch instructions. This is the area marked by the yellow buoys.

No launching north of the main Torrance ramp/or Lifeguard station unless Lifeguard grants permission.

Summer Months: Launch at Rat Beach ONLY.

Bike Path Restrictions


Lines must be fully wrapped on the bar when crossing the bike path.

Do not inflate within 200 yards of path.


Wind up lines of grounded kites that are not in use and keep all gear at least 50 feet from water (for emergency vehicles).

Black-out Days

All major holidays

At Lifeguard’s direction

Topanga Beach


Topanga is an advanced kiteboarding beach. It has become very crowded as it is the closest spot to the City with a good thermal wind in the right direction. Very rocky launch can eat toes and equipment. The beach is extremely narrow with more dog doo than rocks, and a palm tree that has a large appetite for kites.

Kite leashes are mandatory- Hands Free Spinning Leash Information here

When launching, put the kite over the water immediately, walk north on the sand and in front of homes to a little bit of sand to launch from, or go directly into the water being very careful not to leave too much skin or bone on the barnacles, rocks, and urchins.

If you drift south past the lifeguard headquarters, walk back with your kite over the water.

Do not cut of or go through surfers in this very popular surf spot just to the south of the launch area. We do ride waves here but are very courteous and only do it when the lineup is empty. The County lifeguard headquarters building is in front of the break so the consequences are obvious. Advanced spot. Launch on the beach North of the creek and bluff to the north of the palm tree.

The local crowd loves to stay on top of the beach to show each other how cool they can jump, though no kelp limits outside reach. This makes for a dangerous inside section.

If you are down in the water and actually need help, wave for guards with both hands.  If you are ok, put one hand on head in the old “I am ok sign”.

Baywatch county boat and several lifeguard units will often respond to a simple splashed kite. As elsewhere, make it clear to the guards that we know how to self rescue and keep the sport safe.

Don’t even think about teaching a friend here. Like County line, it is unsafe and your friend will hate you for the missing toes and grumbly locals.

Leo Carillo


As the crowds have increased every summer, the several year old rules about launching only after 5 pm on weekdays with the lifeguard’s OK, is in daily effect. On very windy days when the beach is clear of beach goers the guards may allow launch earlier.  Weekends are very crowded and launch can be prohibited, or with luck, after five and often north of Leo North beach at the lifeguard tower of Staircase Beach.

Leo is the only true side shore, thermally induced spot with a sand beach and lifeguards that will accept beginner to advanced kiters in Malibu.  The small size of the beach makes access limited for new bees when there is a crowd out. This translates to, if there are to many people on the beach, surfing and kiting, it is not a good day to try the first body drag.

Nine marginal thermal months out of the year we have it to ourselves. It is during the summer months that beaches like Belmont down south are a much better choice for the beginners.

Be prepared for very gusty, rotor conditions if the only launch allowed is up at Staircase. Launch, and immediately get out into water.  Keep the kite away from the cliff and any beach goers who might be against the cliff walls. Ask the lifeguard in tower 5 if it is ok to launch your kite at North Beach even if you think you have enough space between beach visitors.

Do not kite in the area between the rock and orange windsurf/ kitesurf buoys, and Leo’s main beach.  This is a surfing only area.  You can be ticketed for violations. Kite leashes are mandatory at all Malibu spots- Hands Free Spinning Leash Information here

No launching a kite when anyone is within two kite lengths of you, or of course inside the circle your kite would describe in the air.
Assisted launches are suggested.

Keep kite straight over head if you are down and others are approaching when you are learning.

Always walk your kite over the water.

Do not set up your kite and leave it on the beach all day waiting for a session as the guards want the space open for the beach goers.

If the day is very crowded, do not be surprised if launching is denied.
Other options are going north to County line if you are very advanced, south to Northern portion of Nicholas Canyon beach,  north to Hueneme Beach south of the pier, or if the tides, winds and crowds are OK, the northern entrance to Broad Beach above Zuma Beach.

Leo North beach is mostly sand and the kite area is naturally limited on the
outside by heavy kelp.  If you are a beginner and plan to body drag through the small area, please do so when there is not several advanced people in the zone. The beach is very narrow with a fence against the parking lot having claimed it’s share of kites over the years. You are better off going down to Zuma to sand drag if it is off summer season.

Do not body drag through the surfers at Heavens the surf break at the north
end of North beach.  Limit your dragging from just above the lifeguard tower at Staircase and end before the rocks just north of the Ranger/lifeguard supervisor housing on the beach. DO NOT launch on the small beach just south of the triplexes and north of the cliff wall. On days with lighter winds and the advanced crowd at a minimum, be sure to body drag only to the blue junior lifeguard trailer and then head in as the large rock wall at the south end of North Beach can be treacherous and a smaller rock just north of it can often not be visible under the water.

If you are down in the water with your kite and you are ok, please signal the
lifeguard by putting one hand on your head in the standard ok sign. If in need of immediate assistance, wave with both hands over head.  It is difficult enough watching all the water and beach activity for a guard.  Having to keep a constant kitesurfer watch can drain precious resources and result in possible closure.  I have pushed the self rescue ability of kitesurfers to my fellow guards over the years.  Be prepared to self rescue and ask the unit guard the days surf and rip conditions if you are unsure.

If the beach is packed with people and you have done a down winder to Leo North beach and must land, do so by putting your kite into the water. South of Leo Carrillo’s main surf break and the stairs, and north of Nicholas Canyon beach is an area that is good to end your down winder. Be sure to come inside the kelp bed at the Leo stairs and be prepared for gusty winds with the rotor off of the Leo Tower Two point.  Work your way down the inside of the kelp and come in south of the rocky area near the Palm tree
on the hill and before the wheel chair ramp at Nicholas (Zeros surf break) beach.

An increasing number of people are showing up with kites bought off friends or the internet and with no lessons.  This is highly frowned upon as these people are dangerous and jeopardize the spot.  Expect to be contacted by one of the locals with a standard,”Do you have any experience?”, type of inquiry.  Such a small beach gets filled quickly and though there are better, more advanced wave spots to the north and south, Leo is where most of the locals learned and a bit of attitude unfortunately exists regarding people learning and crowding the spot.  Leo gets the best thermal summer winds and draw a big crowd in a small area.  If you are pretty new, plan on coming on a weekday and getting in the water before the wind is strong enough to draw out all the more advanced people.

Please be courteous to all beach goers and guards and realize what a privilege for us it is to just have access here.  Several of the local lifeguards are learning to kitesurf here presently in front of their homes.



SCKA DOES NOT recommend kiting @ Cabrillo

Cabrillo winds are EXTREMELY GUSTY. There are big, jagged rocks directly downwind of the launching/landing & riding areas. Both areas are small, so they quickly get crowded. Contact Mel at for assistance. For your own enjoyment & safety, as well as that of other area users, you’d be well advised to follow all SCKA general guidelines, as well as these that all the locals follow (which were learned the hard way * severe, hospitalizing injuries were involved):

NO kiteboarding, power kite flying, or body-dragging allowed by the Lifeguards at Cabrillo Beach on SUMMER WEEKENDS OR HOLIDAYS from July 4th through Labor Day

Even though summer is over, the lifeguards are now preventing kiteboarding EVERY day (including weekdays) on an hour-to-hour situational basis. If there are a few people in the way on the beach, or in the water, or if they see a couple of kiters crashing their kites near bystanders, they will stop any of us from launching.

Huntington City Beach

Huntington City Beach Kitesurfing Guidelines
For continued enjoyment of kitesurfing in Huntington Beach, the Southern California Kitesurfing Association (SCKA) has drafted the following self imposed rules that all riders are asked to respect in the interest of keeping this area open to all of us. All kitesurfers are welcome to attend SCKA meetings and have a say in what we define as appropriate kitesurfing conduct – browse to for contact information.
1. Ability Level: SCKA welcomes independent kitesurfers as defined in the SCKA “HB Kitesurfing Ability Guidelines”. Among other things, this means a kiter can stay upwind, keep kite in the air consistently, fly by feel not just sight, jump with control, transition / jibe, water relaunch kite within 30 seconds, self-launch, self-land, and self-rescue. Refer to the mentioned “Kitesurfing Ability Guidelines” handout for details.
2. Areas (area map shown below – more detailed map can be viewed at
a. Kitesurfing is recommended north of the HB pier. South of the pier is blackballed in summer months.
b. Launching / landing is generally permitted between tower 10 and the Huntington Cliffs (tower 18).
c. An additional launch / land area is north of the HB Cliffs (northernmost metered parking lot) up to Seapoint Ave. This area is highly recommended on crowded summer days.
d.Do not launch / land north of Seapoint Ave. Do not launch / land within the HB Cliff area.
e. Launching / landing between tower 10 and the pier is not recommended.
f.   Launching / landing south of the pier is not recommended.
g.When in the water, maintain upwind position so as to generally return to shore north of tower 10.
h.On crowded summer weekends, if upwind position cannot be maintained north of tower 8, get out of the water and walk back upwind. On regular days, the northern wall of the apartments (just north of tower 6) is the get out and walk point.
3. Launching and Landing:
a. Launch in middle of the beach maintaining at least a 100 ft. safe zone downwind.
b. Launch with safety leash attached, with a working emergency release system.
c. Do not launch near road.
d.Do not launch near other beach users, towers, poles or large objects.
e. Do not launch if uncertain of the wind / weather conditions.
4. Beach Users: All beach users have the right of way. This includes swimmers, waders, sunbathers, shoreline spectators, skimboarders, etc.
5. Surfers (surfers in this sense includes conventional surfers, body boarders, windsurfers and stand up paddlers):
a. All surfers have the right of way in the water.
b. Surfers have the right of way on all waves.
c. Do not kite within 100 ft upwind of surfers (use good judgement).
d.Do not ride shore break if surfers are present down the line.
6. Other Kiters / Windsurfers:
a. The starboard tack rider generally has the right of way (the rider looking over his right shoulder). However:
b. This does not apply to a situation where a kiter / windsurfer is riding a wave. The outgoing kiter always yields to a kiter / windsurfer riding a wave.
7. Crowded Days:
a. It is up to us to use best judgement as to when it is too crowded to kitesurf. Otherwise, we will not be the ones to make that decision in the future.
b.Do not kite before 3pm on crowded summer days between the pier and tower 18. Wait until later in the afternoon when the crowds clear out. North of the Cliffs to Seapoint Ave. is the preferred area before 3pm.
c. On crowded holiday weekends, avoid the area between the pier and HB Cliffs. Between the North end of the Cliffs and Seapoint Ave. is the preferred area for these times.
d.Do not kite crowded areas especially on marginally light wind days. 14-15 mph is the suggested minimum wind speed in which to kite.
8. Equipment:
a. Replace lines well before they show signs of pending failure. Do not wait for lines to break before replacing them.
b. In higher winds, always secure kite with sand when not in use.
c. Always roll bar and lines up when not in use.
d.Board leashes, retractable leashes are not recommended for use in waves at HB.
Kitesurfing at HB was recently blackballed due to people not keeping to the above guide to kiting safely. We need you to help to keep HB open for all to enjoy. Above all, please respect the lifeguards and other enforcing authorities by complying with any request, instruction, or order issued. Receive an orange tag by signing your agreement to these guidelines and by demonstrating your abilities as suggested in item #1. Orange tags demonstrate your safety awareness as well as your community-minded intentions.


SCKA Kitesurfing Ability Guidelines for Huntington City Beach
Huntington City Beach is not a beginning kitesurfing spot. The Southern California Kiteboarding Association (SCKA) recommends that only VERY EXPERIENCED kiters should attempt to kite at Huntington Beach due to challenging conditions in the area. Please respect this area by developing your kitesurfing skills outside of Huntington Beach until reaching an advanced skill level. This effort is intended to promote respect for beachgoers, surfers, swimmers and lifeguards, and to preserve restriction-free kitesurfing in Huntington Beach.
All are welcome to kitesurf Huntington City Beach when ready. In terms of judging rider readiness, SCKA proposes the following measures of skill that should be mastered prior to kitesurfing at Huntington City Beach:
1.        Ability to stay upwind: A rider must be able to return to the same spot on the beach from which he launched.
2.        Keeping kite in the air: A rider should not be dropping his kite in the water more than one time in about every   3-5 days of kitesurfing.
3.        Kite flying by feel: Kiter must not have to look at the kite to know how to control it. He should be able to fly the kite with eyes closed, solely by the feel of tension in the lines.
4.        Jumping: Because of waves, a kiter will be required to jump at Huntington whether wanting to or not. Rider must be able to fully control orientation, and to accurately predict landing spot in a jump.
5.        Transitions/Jibes: should be second nature and effortless as Huntington conditions inevitably will present circumstances where a kiter cannot jump a wave and/or whitewash.
6.        Kite-Launch: Rider must be capable of quickly re-launching kite in less than 30 – 45 seconds.
7.        Self-Rescue: In the event of a downed kite that cannot be re-launched, the kiter must be able, while in the water, to wind up his lines onto the bar, and use the kite to drag into shore.
8.        Self landing of kite: A kiter must know how to land his kite on the ground while respecting other people on the beach. Rider must be able to safely land kite with or without assistance.
SCKA recommends nearby flat water areas as preferred spots to learn, where the rider will progress much faster in an environment that is much safer for the rider and others on the beach. Appropriate sites are listed at
Huntington is not beginner friendly for the following reasons:
1.        Waves: Waves can overcome a kiter causing: – loss of line tension – loss of kite control – line entanglement – equipment loss or destruction. A kiter tumbling underneath waves can easily lose orientation and must be able to control the kite in the air eyes closed, purely by feel.
2.        Current: Strong currents are often present in the same direction as the wind. This tends to drag kitesurfers quickly towards the pier. It also means that a kitesurfers ability to stay upwind in the water is greatly reduced.
3.        People: Huntington City Beach becomes extremely packed with beach users in the spring, summer, and fall. Other nearby areas are much less densely filled with beach users. Kiters must have experience and good judgment in determining when it is safe to launch / land kite in the proximity of others.
4.        Surfers: It is imperative that a kitesurfer can devote enough attention to know where surfers are and keep a safe distance away from them when riding and jumping. A kitesurfer needs to have complete control over where the wind, current, and waves are taking him in order to avoid surfers.