Flat Rock ? no place for kite surfers
By DAWN COHEN
KITE SURFERS should get out of Flat Rock, Ballina Malibu Club president Phil Calnan said yesterday.
"Flat Rock is not the place for kite surfing. We have been surfing there for 10 years," said the 55-year-old club president.
"I don't know if the kite surfers even have a club."
Tensions between kite surfers and board surfers at Flat Rock escalated three weeks ago after an exchange of words on the beach to a flouting of safety regulations in the water.
Regular Flat Rock surfer John Oswald said: "This goose with a kite surf just jumped right over me.
"They are supposed to stay 30 metres away."
Ballina surfer Phil Meyers also had an argument with kiters on the same day.
"I asked a kiter to keep away from my kids. He told me to F***off," he said.
Following complaints, the Ballina Shire Council announced Maritime Authority on-the-spot fines for kiters flouting distance regulations.
However, Ash Woolley, who regularly kite surfs at Flat Rock, believes they are being unfairly targeted.
"Most of us keep to the regulations. We are out there on the windy days not suitable for surfing. There is no real clash," he said.
However, Phil Calnan denies kite surfers are being made scapegoats.
"Flat Rock is an important creche for surfers. Lots of families swim there," he said. "Why do they want to go in the middle of people when there is so much open beach?"
lan Atkins, CEO of Surfing Australia, said kite surfers' own equipment manuals say the kites should never be used on crowded beaches because it could result in death.
"There are 30-metre leads on the kites. They can cut like knives if you get entangled in them," he said.
"When kiters are travelling fast back to shore, it's impossible for them to see a swimmer or a surfer in a trough in front of them.
"I have seen kiters almost end up on top of someone."
A kite surf consists of a board with long leads to a wind-driven parachute-like kite.