I had an interesting conversation with Nick of Naish Kites today. After discussing the economics of the kite surfing industry, I asked him what he saw as some of the biggest challenges of kitesurfing in the future. “Bans” he said. Turns out, there are an increasing number of beach front communities (notably in South Florida) that are trying to have kitesurfing (often along with windsurfing and/or surfing in general) banned in certain stretches of beach. This is a huge pain because it not only makes the sport more dangerous (increasing the density of kiters) but local regulators are unlikely to take into account where the best kite surfing actually is when making these rules.I found a couple of propaganda sites on both sides of the argument. Tantrumkitesurf.com for example warns that kitesurfing is dangerous and should be regulated in part “because of the very nature of the people it attracts.” I guess we kiters are all just adrenaline seeking hoodlums and ne’er-do-wells to some people. On the other hand, there were several “conspiracy theory” websites created by kite surfers, so the mud slinging is rampant.
Nick said that they are in the process of creating a kite surfing association to lobby on behalf of kiters and work with regulators to ensure that the beach is safe and can be enjoyed by waders and water sports enthusiasts alike. I personally don’t see this as a huge issue for kiting, but it is certainly something worth paying attention to, especially if we are choosing where to retail our kites one day!