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Tragic Fatality at Saunton Sands, North Devon

We were extremely sorry to receive the sad news that kitesurfer Ben Witts died while kitesurfing at Saunton Sands on 9th February this year. As owner of North Devon Kitesurfing, 40 year-old Ben was an experienced kitesurfer but got into difficulty while kiting during the Storm Erik, in winds that were gusting up to 56mph on the day.

Our thoughts are with his family, especially his girlfriend Cheylee who is reported to have been first on the scene, but he was sadly pronounced dead after being taken to hospital by air ambulance.

Andy Gratwick, BKSA head of training, says, “I’m devastated to hear this sad news and for Ben’s family. He was a fabulous guy, a safe and competent kiter, ran a great school and was a pillar of the North Devon kiting community.”

SAFETY RE-CAP

Let’s make sure we take heed and learn from this as the basics that we all take onboard during our lessons and early days are really good practice. Everything can happen in an instant. We may become over-confident at times, but as easy as kitesurfing may sometimes feel, the reason we all love it is that we’re truly playing with nature.

So first and foremost always kite with a buddy and let someone know that you’re going out.

Please always remember to kite within your limits and bear in mind the cold. If in doubt, don’t go out.

Chasing Woo records is great fun and brings credits from your mates, but be conscious of just how far out of your limits you’re pushing yourself. A few extra numbers isn’t worth a trip to hospital, or worse.

Remember to do regular checks of your gear, particularly your lines, and especially at this colder time of year when you’re using the gear less as cold, wet storage conditions can affect the working condition of your equipment.

Be conscious of not riding anywhere that you’re not confident of being able to get yourself back from under your own steam.

Generally kite with good care… for yourself and others.

RIP BEN WITTS