After Cord-Around-Neck Incident, San Diego Enacts Kiteboarding Regulations

As reported on www.signonsandiego.com

CORONADO – The dance of brightly colored kites propelled by gusts of wind as kite surfers jump waves and hang in the air mesmerizes spectators of the fast-growing extreme sport.

Luis Gutierrez pulled up his kite as he got ready to go kite boarding at Silver Strand State Beach. The beach is known for kite boarding.

Most San Diego County kite surfers favor beaches where the winds are strong, such as Silver Strand State Beach. But kite surfing is creating conflicts with other beach activities, including a recent one involving a 10-year-old boogie boarder when a kite surfer’s cord wrapped around her neck.

The potential for problems has sparked new kite-surfing rules that take effect at the state beach tomorrow for a six-month trial. The rules require kite surfers to launch and land in a newly designated kite-surfing zone, a 133-yard-wide stretch of beach near Silver Strand’s main entrance off state Highway 75.

The regulations at the beach across from Coronado Cays are believed by kite surfers and city and state officials to be the first issued by any agency in San Diego County. The emerging water sport had been largely self-governing.

San Diego Lifeguard Sgt. John Everheart said he is unaware of any city laws restricting kite surfing. “We probably need some,” he said. “There have been conflicts.”

Kite surfing or kite boarding gained popularity in the late 1990s, although it has been around for decades. Kiters, strapped onto boards are hooked up to their kites at the waist, using the kite to propel them to jump, fly and soar.

Kite surfers must launch and land in a 133-yard-wide, multiuse stretch of beach at Silver Strand State Beach. Its boundaries begin at a newly installed 20-foot tallflagpole south to Lifeguard Tower 0.

Kite surfing is allowed from the northernmost boundary of the launching and landing zone to one mile south. Kite surfing is not allowed to the area north.

Signs at a crosswalk that direct visitors to the beach and kite surf zone will explain the rules that go into effect tomorrow.

The launching and landing area is subject to closures during peak beach visitation.There are a few hundred kiters in San Diego, and the sport is growing, said Shane Banner, 27, co-owner of Calikites in Coronado. He said San Diego is a great destination spot for kite surfers, though the area is known as a “light-wind spot.”

“So it’s not the ultimate kite-boarding spot in the nation, but it has the whole San Diego thing going,” Banner said. “The three main spots are Silver Strand State Beach, Fiesta Island (Enchanted Cove on Mission Bay), and in Northern Pacific Beach, at a beach called Tourmaline.”

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