This past year has seen a dramatic increase in observed and reported incidences of unsafe kiting behaviours around Sydney. Most incidents involve kiters not maintaining a safe and legal distance off other beach and water users or inappropriate practicing on crowded beaches.
The most recent was a report I received of kiters sailing through groups of swimmers at Fishermans Beach Sydney on Saturday 5 February in a gusty nor'wester. This kind of behaviour has to stop or we will all pay with more beach restrictions and bans.
Please note that lifeguards and water police as well as Council rangers have the authority to issue fines and confiscate gear from anyone observed to be ignoring established regulations.
On behalf of NSWKBA and in the interest of avoiding injuries, insurance claims and more kiting bans, I'm going to reiterate what is expected and required of kiters using the waterways and beaches in NSW. Much (if not all) of this will also apply to other states but check with your local organisastion for state-specific regulations.
Firstly, please review the NSWKBA information on restrictions and advice for NSWKBA beaches: (zoom in and click on the individual pins to read about each specific area) (Note that kiting is prohibited in all areas shaded in red)
CODE OF CONDUCT
Secondly, please follow the Code of Conduct that NSWKBA has created with the input from the local kiting community. This document was created after soliciting and socialising input from the kiting community via the NSWKBA membership list and via the SeaBreeze kitesurfing forums and reflects the consensus of those in the community who chose to provide input and engage in discussion.
The NSWKBA Code of Conduc
t can be found here:
You are also required by law to obey the NSW Maritime boating regulations.
NSW MARITIME REGULATIONS ARE HERE:
Remember, under NSW maritime law, a kitesurfer is designated as a "vessel" and must obey all regulations applying to other watercraft. Amongst other regulations, you are required to observe the following:
When travelling at 10 knots or more, sailboarders/kitesurfers and their equipment, including kite and lines, must:
Maintain a minimum distance of 60m from any persons or non-powered vessels or 30m from powered vessels and any objects in the water or, if that is not possible, a safe distance
A safe distance between a vessel and a person or thing (including another vessel) is a distance that will ensure that the vessel will not cause danger or injury to the person or damage to the thing, having regard to all relevant safety factors including weather conditions at the time, visibility, speed of the vessel and obstructions to navigation that are present. It should be noted that where a skipper is issued a penalty for breaching the distance off requirements referred to above and claims that even though this distance off was breached, the distance off was a 'safe distance', the onus is on the skipper to prove this in court.
DESIGNATED SWIMMING AREAS
A designated swimming area in a surf zone is defined as the area extending 500 metres out from shore between surf patrol flags or signs. In all other areas a swimming area is defined as the area extending 60 metres out from shore between signs for swimmers. A vessel must not be operated in these zones or within 60 metres either side of the flags or signs marking such zones unless it is a vessel operated by Surf Life Saving NSW or Council lifeguards.
Practically, it's not always going to be possible to adhere to all of these regulations at all times on crowded city beaches. Everyone has probably been guilty at one time or another of inadvertent violations. Lifeguards, water police and rangers have to date been extremely accommodating toward kiters in most circumstances, using good judgement in policing situations where kiters and other water and beach users are in close proximity; however, there have been far too many circumstances in the past year where kiters are blatantly violating regulations and not showing good sense or appropriate regard for the safety of others.
Please make an extra effort to improve this so we can all continue to enjoy unrestricted access at our kiting beaches.
Additionally, please use common sense:
?Don't teach your mates to kite on crowded beaches
?Don't kite through groups of surfers
?Don't kite through a surf school giving lessons (even if they came after you were already there)
?Don't kite through swimmers, even even if they aren't in a designated swimming area
?Learn to fly a trainer kite before you try and fly a full-sized kite.
?Don't try to learn kiting on your own. Find a school or a qualified instructor and take lessons.
In the interest of maintaining beach access for ALL kiters and in protecting the safety of other beach users, PLEASE make an effort to abide by these recommendations and regulations.
for the NSWKBA Committee