UP IN THE AIR: Stephan Kleinlein
UP IN THE AIR: Stephan Kleinlein

Kitesurfers may face regulation


LOCAL kiteboarding instructor Stephan Kleinlein has backed steps by Byron Shire Council to regulate the sport on crowded local beaches.

The fastest growing sport in the world, kiteboarding has had an explosion of popularity on the North Coast. As a result, Mr Kleinlein, co-owner of Byron Bay Kiteboarding, believes now is the right time to bring in some regulations.

While he has never seen a serious incident occur, Mr Kleinlein said he had witnessed inexperienced kiteboarders riding straight through groups of swimmers. "It is a safe activity. But when you have beginners and when the beach is really full it can be a problem," he said.

Having received complaints about the risks of kiteboarding on local beaches, council staff want to investigate whether the sport should be regulated or restricted in certain areas.

They have asked councillors to consider the issue at today's meeting.

The growth of kiteboarding at Lennox Head and Ballina in recent years has lead to a number of stoushes with local surfers. Tensions culminated at Flat Rock in 2004 when surfers accused kiteboarders of flouting safety regulations.

But Mr Kleinlein believes at Byron Bay a compromise can be found to suit the needs of everyone.

His idea is for a designated launching/ kite surfing area on Main Beach, especially in the busy summer months from December to March.

He also believes kiteboarders who want to use the beach during summer should have a licence and public liability insurance, which can be obtained from the Australian Kite Surfing Association.

"Other councils in Australia have this system," he said.

"Signage is important also. Some beaches have signs up for surfers so maybe we could have something similar."

While Lennox Head and Ballina remain the most popular beaches for kiteboarding, he said Byron Bay also had a lot going for it.

"There are really good conditions here. You have big beaches and you have waves," he said.

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