Biffo over boards and boats
IS IT a board or a boat?
That is the question on many surfers’ lips as collisions between stand-up paddle boarders and surfers increase in crowded surf spots on the North Coast.
This surfer (see photos) suffered a badly bruised ankle recently at Byron Bay’s popular surf break, The Pass, when a stand-up paddle board rider lost control of his craft when padding out – as the sequence of photos demonstrates.
Local legendary surfer George Greenough believes the paddle boards are becoming a serious danger in popular surf breaks and should be classed as vessels, like surf skis and kayaks, as they are more similar in size and weight to those craft than they are to surfboards.
“The US Coastguard consider stand-up paddle boards a vessel, the same as a kayak or surf ski, whereas the maritime authority here doesn’t consider it any more than a surfboard,” he said.
“If I’m on a stand-up paddle board 4.5m long, what’s the difference between that and a kayak or surf ski?
“And which of the devices are easier to control – obviously the kayak and surf ski, the one they’re sitting on and most kayaks that size has a rudder to control them. The bottom line is stand-up board riders can’t control their equipment in that situation – just look at how many accidents we’ve had already.”
While many surfers were at pains to stress that most stand-up board riders handled their craft responsibly and stayed outside the crowded line-ups, some were causing havoc for surfers and swimmers.
“Like a surf ski or kayak, these boards can pick up waves before anyone else but when they do get going, they don’t have very good control,” he said.
“They then jump off with a 3m leg rope and anyone in front of them, well good luck.
“They are a very large clumsy craft.”
A spokesperson for NSW Maritime said the department had looked closely at stand-up paddle boards about two years ago and deemed them not to be vessels under the water safety act.