Race Point Beach in the Cape Cod National Seashore 

While well-meaning, the Cape Cod National Seashore is misguided with respect to its selective ban on kitesurfing.

In its recent press release, reprinted in part in this paper on March 26, the Seashore claims that "piping plovers view ... the overhead kites as predators, which can scare the birds from their nests." While the Seashore's statement presents this as an accepted statement of fact, it is unsupported.

A single study conducted 20 years ago, which was not peer reviewed, observed that a land-based kite may temporarily disturb the habits of plovers, but clearly stated that there was no correlation between the presence of kites and the birds' productivity.

The very authors of that 1988 study have subsequently published numerous scientific results relating human activities to piping plover behavior and productivity; none of these publications even mentions kites. The areas of greatest concern to plover populations, according to the scientific literature, are pets and off-road vehicles.

Kitesurfing is an environmentally friendly, healthful activity for residents and visitors. The policy to restrict it based on perceived impact to plover population is scientifically unsupported — the Seashore should not imply otherwise.

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Cape Cod National Seashore 

With the return of spring, piping plovers have also returned to their breeding grounds on outer Cape Cod. They are now courting and establishing territories in preparation for nesting. Piping plovers continue to be listed as a threatened species under the Federal and Massachusetts Endangered Species Acts. The National Park Service, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, carries out management of the plover at Cape Cod National Seashore.

Piping plovers are ground nesting birds and raise their flightless chicks on beaches where they are vulnerable to predators, storm tides, and human disturbance. They are particularly sensitive to the presence of dogs. They perceive dogs as predators and are more readily disturbed when a dog is approaching than when only people are approaching. An even greater threat occurs when dogs are off-leash.  Most loose dogs naturally chase any movement on the beach including adult plovers and the flightless chicks, which can be killed in the process.

Kites also disturb the nesting and feeding behaviors of endangered shorebirds. Kites are perceived as large predators flying over the birds. This may scare the incubating parent off the nest, exposing the eggs to predators, hot or cold temperatures, cause nest abandonment, or disrupt feeding of the adult birds and their chicks.

To protect plovers and other ground nesting shorebirds including least terns and American oystercatcher, effective April 1, and until further notice, no pets or kite flying will be permitted on Coast Guard Beach south of the former Coast Guard Station in Eastham, and  at Jeremy Point in Wellfleet.  Also effective April 1, kite-surfing/boarding is prohibited on Cape Cod Bay-side beaches and Cape Cod Bay waters within the national seashore until the last chicks in the area have fledged.  Additional sections of the seashore’s ocean and bayside beaches that support nesting shorebirds may also be temporally closed to pets and kites.

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2009 Kitespeed World Championship 

After two rounds of racing yesterday, Alex Caizergues (FRA, F-One) and Melissa Gil (USA, Cabrinha) have taken the lead in this years speed world championship, held in Port St. Louis, France.

In total, 35 competitors registered for the first event of the season, and although the weather forecast is not brilliant for the upcoming days, there is hope for the weekend to bring more wind to allow for more racing.

The first heat of the competition was won by Rob Douglas (USA, Cabrinha), the first kiter that broke the speedsailing dominance of the windsurfers last year in Luderitz, and one of the three kiteboarders that made it over 50 knots. Heat two was then won by World Record Holder Alex Caizergues. Second in both legs was Sylvain Hoceini, ensuring him a second place in the overall ranking as well. Rob Douglas is in third overall, and US course racing star Damien Leroy (Cabrinha) on an excellent fourth place in his first speed competition. In fifth, local hero Sylvain Maurin (FRA, F-One).

In the womens fleet, newcomer Melissa Gil was able to defeat reigning world champion Charlotte Consorti (FRA, F-One), they are both tied in points but Melissa with a slightly better top speed. In third then reigning world record holder Sjoukje Bredenkamp (RSA, Naish).

Racing continues until Sunday, fifth of April, with daily racing from 10:00 hours.

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