Santa Barbara’s newest breed of wave riders might face new regulations in county waters.
The sport of kiteboarding -riding a board similar to a surfboard or wakeboard while holding on to a line attached to a large kite, which pulls the rider through the water- has become increasingly popular at East and Leadbetter Beaches. Interactions between kiteboarders and swimmers, beach-goers and watercraft has caused concern from the SB Harbor Commission as well as the Recreation and Parks District. Due to this concern, a set of guidelines for kiteboarders was proposed at the Harbor Commission meeting on Jan. 16.
The proposed set of regulations includes a ban on kiteboarding in the harbor, on West Beach, within 500 feet of Stearns Wharf and within 200 feet of swimmers and watercraft. Kiteboarding would also be banned inside swim buoys, on Wednesdays after 5 p.m. between April 1 and Nov. 1, and during special events. Launch and landing zones would be designated in addition to a kiteboarding zone to allow beginners to practice safely.
Mick Kronman, manager of harbor operations, said the goal of the regulations is to find the “appropriate niche for kiteboarding in Santa Barbara.”
“The sport is proliferating,” Kronman said. “Kiteboarding is an extreme sport that deserves scrutiny and possibly regulation to be undertaken for safe riding.”
Kronman said the new regulations have been in the works for the past six months, but are still far from being implemented.
Bobby Bosch, a senior computer science major at UCSB and avid kiteboarder, said he does not think the new regulations will have a great impact on kiteboarders.
“Supposedly we can get ticketed now for being too close to swimmers, but that’s actually not really enforced,” Bosch said.
Steve Marsh, kiteboarder and owner of Shoreline Caf