Ruakaka Beach

The bar-tailed godwit, a plump wading bird that undertakes the world's most spectacular migration, is under threat in one of its winter sanctuaries in Northland.

Kiteboarders have invaded the Ruakaka Wildlife Reserve, causing havoc among the birds as they prepare for their annual 11,000km migration.

Every spring, godwits fly from New Zealand to their breeding grounds in Alaska, an epic nonstop trip that takes up to nine days.

Conservationists say the birds have been harassed by kiteboarders, who harness wind power to zip across the water on small surfboards.

Ruakaka is an important sanctuary for the godwits because its sandbanks remain exposed during very high tides.

Thousands of creatures flock to the Ruakaka River's estuary from nearby Whangarei Harbour, where they spend the winter months roosting and nesting. Over the past two years, though, the sheltered waters of the little estuary have drawn increasing numbers of kiteboard-carrying visitors.

Bird protection volunteers say they encroach on the sandbanks, disturbing the godwits and frightening them away.

One volunteer, Margaret Hicks, said the birds and the kiteboarders were competing for "the same space, the same sea, the same sandbanks, the same air".

"You can imagine who's coming off worse. If everywhere else is under water, where the hell are the birds going to go? I've seen nests abandoned and eggs left to die."

While most kiteboarders left when told about the birds, a small hardcore of locals paid no heed, and were an "absolute nightmare".

"They are arrogant and selfish, and they don't give a damn about the environment," Ms Hicks said.


2009 Lake Pontchartrain Kiteboarder Crossing

The 2009 Leukemia Cup Regatta is a series of adrenaline infused sailing races that take place at yacht clubs throughout the United States. This Regatta brings sailors, spectators and non-sailors together through competition to raise money to fight leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood cancers.

I'm participating as a fundraiser in the 14th annual Leukemia Cup Regatta in New Orleans, Louisiana. The New Orleans Leukemia Cup Regatta will take place the weekends of March 21st-22nd and 28th-29th, 2009. I hope to highlight one of these exciting race weekends by kiteboarding across Lake Pontchartrain, approximately 24 miles from the Northshore to the Southshore. I am a Kiteboarder and it is my goal to raise $10,000 in the coming weeks for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It is my aim to kiteboard across Lake Pontchartrain in an attempt to raise optimistic awareness and motivate individuals, groups, organizations, and companies to financially contribute to my fundraising efforts this Spring. As a participant in the Leukemia Cup Regatta, this is an opportunity for me to create awareness, attain a fundraising goal, conquer a lake, and support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

I am promoting and fundraising in honor of my father, Terry Stuckey. In the fall of 1995, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I witnessed my dad courageously battle this devastating disease for months at a time, until Leukemia won by attrition late in the summer of 1997. He was 43 years old. His body gave up, however, he never let go of his charismatic spirit.

The success of this kiteboarding crossing will ultimately be dependent on the attainment of this financial goal as well as timely weather conditions that produce a successful ride. March is an optimal month to complete this journey. Therefore, the kiteboarding crossing is not restricted to the race weekends and will be supported by a chase boat for the duration of the trip across Lake Pontchartrain. The Lake Pontchartrain crossing will begin at Fontainebleau State Park and upon successful completion, conclude at either: Bonnabel Boat Launch or Southern Yacht Club. In March, the announcment to begin the kiteboarding crossing will start with a 72 hour watch, 48 hour watch, 24 hour warning and a TBD decision the morning of the crossing. Again, changing weather conditions dictate the day of the kiteboarding crossing.


Handheld GPS not valid for kiteboarding records 

The International Speed Windsurfing Class (ISWC) and the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) have to clarify their position on the newly created GPS Speed World Records, introduced by the website GPSSS and GPSKS. 

These world records can not be recognised by us and we feel they will introduce confusion into the world of speed sailing.

We have worked with the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) for many years and with their help established many world and national records for our members. The WSSRC has been established since 1972 and is sanctioned by ISAF to provide impartial results and observe claims by all high speed sailing craft and ensure that they are achieved fairly and correctly under their rules, ensuring fair play for all.