NSW kiteboarders forced to wear lifejackets

July 19, 2016 | Kiteboarding
Kiteboarding: lifejackets are compulsory in NSW | Photo: Hayto/IKA

The New South Wales kiteboarding community is surprised to hear that all riders will be forced to wear lifejackets (Level 50S or greater).

The Maritime Safety Regulations 2016 made several changes to the obligations of kiteboarders. As a result, and since July 1st, all kite enthusiasts must wear personal flotation devices while sailing in open waters.

Kiteboarding Australia, the sport's national governing body, says that the new regulation puts kitesurfers in danger for three main reasons.

"Kiteboarders who are surfing in waves need to be able to duck under waves at times. Wearing a lifejacket materially impacts a kiteboarders ability to safely negotiate waves," notes the organization led by Alexandra Lockie.

"Most kiteboarders have two inflatable devices with them at all times being the harness they wear (equivalent to a Level 25S PFD) and the bladders in their kite. Combined these kiteboarders have more flotation than a surfboard."

"A lifejacket which increases the flotation of the kiteboarder enhances the risk of the kiteboarder being washed on top of their lines. This has many possible consequences including increased risk of entanglement and the kite relaunching and dragging the person because they are entangled in their lines," concludes Lockie.

Kiteboarding Australia the urges the NSW authorities to reverse the changes and "return to the position under the Marine Safety Regulation 2009" when kiteboarders were part of the group of surfers, paddleboarders, and swimmers.

Until now, they were only forced to wear a lifejacket if they were more than 400 meters from the shore.

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2023 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers