Surviving the Death Loop

For some of us, the “Death Loop” may be an all too familiar experience… and if you’ve been fortunate enough not to experience it firsthand yourself, you’ve probably seen it happen to someone else on the beach or in one of the many videos on the internet.

Surviving the Death Loop

As the name suggests, the Death Loop is a very dangerous situation that can happen to virtually anyone due to gear failure or a line getting wrapped around your bar or hooked through your harness in some way. Year after year many kiteboarders around the world get hurt or even die because of the so called “Death Loop”, and in many cases, releasing your safety system has no effect. It can even happen to highly experienced kitesurfers if caught off guard.

For this reason, Anton Chernyshov from put together a great video tutorial demonstrating a number of techniques to quickly and safely get your kite back under control without ever having to release your safety system.

We highly recommend you watch the entire video tutorial below, however we’ve also summarized the various techniques in case you can’t watch the video for some reason.

Surviving the Death Loop Video Tutorial

If you are reading this tutorial in an email or RSS feed, please click here to watch the video tutorial.

Examples of Situations that can cause the Death Loop

  • Centre depower line (front lines) wrap around the bar
  • One of the steering lines gets hook around the bar end or clip
  • Steering line wraps around your harness hook

Activating your safety system may not help, as the depower system is locked around the bar or the steering line is hooked on your harness. It also makes the situation worse, because now the bar is out of your reach, making it impossible to rectify the situation. Your only option left is to cut away from the kite entirely.

How to Stop the Loop of Death

To stop the kite, simply grab the farthest steering line and pull it hard. That’s it… the kite will stall and fall out of the sky. If you are battling to pull this line, wait for the kite to hit the surface of the water, as it will be much easier to stall the kite while it has briefly stopped moving.

Securing the Kite Afterwards

Once you’ve stopped the kite, pull the steering line in even more to ensure your kite remains depowered. Then you have several options:

  1. Untangle your lines and carefully relaunch your kite. Make sure the lines are completely free before attempting to relaunch the kite. You can untwist the lines once your kite is in the air.
  2. If you are worried about your lines being tangled or there is a dangerous obstacle ahead of you, you can proceed straight to the self rescue. First wrap the steering line you already pulled in around the bar about 10 times to secure the kite in a depowered state. Then proceed with the self rescue as normal.
  3. If you are in shallow water, you can just walk up the steering line towards the kite. Be sure not to get yourself entangled in any loose lines and don’t wrap the lines around your hands or fingers in case the kite does power up and relaunch accidently.


We don’t recommend practicing death loops on the beach or even in the water, as you could potentially hurt yourself or someone else. But you can practice preparing for the various scenarios using your bar and lines at home as demonstrated in the video. Repeat a few times with your eyes closed in case your bar is under the water when you’re in a tricky situation.

If you have questions or you’d like to share your own experiences, please post them in the comments below. And please share this information with others, as you might save someone from serious injury or death.

PS: A big thank you to Anton Chernyshov for taking the time to make this great video and for sharing his knowledge and experience with everyone.

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