Right of Way Rules
Although some are tempted to treat a kitesurfer as a "marine vessel", it's not always possible. The very nature of the sport means that quite a few crew can fit in a wave break or flat water location. The idea of shouting "starboard" and receiving "right of way" just won't work.
You need to exercise judgement and fair use of the water for all those out.
In general situations, "Marine Vessels" such as boats and yachts will drive like Americans and turn to pass to the right side of the oncoming vessel - known as "starboard".
If you're from a marine background, it's common knowledge, but the rule is not drilled into all kitesurfers, so you can't rely on other kitesurfers adhering to it.
Use eye contact and give each others kites room - if you're the one going upwind, make an effort to keep your kite higher .. if you're downwind, keep your kite low, to avoid tangling lines.
If you're following someone, beware they probably don't know you're there! Avoid following other kiters into groins/spits and dead ends! Clearly they need to turn around pretty soon - make sure you're not downwind of them so they have time to turn and exit.
It sounds obvious, but don't jump if there is any danger of possible collision with another rider. Always look downwind!
Suggestions from the forums
Carl Bevo suggested:
2) (Incoming) Closest to the breaking part of the wave - who is upwind of the other rider has right of way
3) (Outgoing) If you have just ridden a wave you should blast back out the back and not muck around in the surf zone - leave it clear for down the line riding
- unless there is absolutley no one around do not turn off the top of the next approaching wave while heading out, redirecting again back to the shore - if you are going to do this always look upwind and over your shoulder you could be about to drop in on someone
Ian Young added:
#1 rule is use common sense!
The main problem areas that I have seen wave riding are:
* when people are launching off the beach and either don't look or don't care and jump right in front of someone coming down the line.
* when a rider coming out boosts off the lip right in front of someone coming down the line
* when a rider coming out boosts off the lip right behind someone coming down the line and almosts lands on top of them
* when someone coming out smacks a hard turn off the lip right in front of someone coming down the line
* and when you go out the back in the circuit and line your next wave up then someone short-cuts the circuit - I find this particularly annoying when there's heaps of waves going unridden anyway
All of these are just plain rude, obnoxious, selfish and often unsafe. All they have to do is wait for the down the line rider to go past then rip when it's clear. Like windsurfing and surfing, all you have to do is get in the line up and take your turn if it's that crowded - sure if someone misses the wave and there's enough time and space to be safe then go for it.
The only argument I can see against this is where the beach is in turbulence and people really need to get on the water quickly, BUT again if people open their eyes BEFORE they launch to start with they wouldn't have to try and park their kite while they're waiting for the wave rider to clear.
We all love boosting off and smacking the lip hard but in most cases all you have to do is one extra gibe on the inside to wait for someone to get clear before you go for it.
Most of these problems would go away if everyone followed the "CLEAR" guidelines.
I'm also with Carl, if you're not actually wave riding then please go somewhere else or at least out the back away from the break.
The guy on the wave first (even if it hasn't broken) has right of way.
For "official" water navigation rules are available at the Department of Planning and Infrastructure
Where to kitesurf in Western Australia (official)
WAKSA (West Aus Kitesurfing Association) list of kiting areas
Filming kitesurfing over your shoulder with a GoPro HD
Lots of inventive solutions from Australian Kitesurfers on how to get great imagery with the GoPro