Vancouver lets kiteboarders launch from beach in summer

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Local kiteboarders no longer have to worry about being scolded by lifeguards – at least on one Vancouver beach.


The park board has lifted a kiteboarding ban and given participants permission to launch from an approximately 300-metre stretch on the westernmost part of Spanish Banks during the summer months.


It’s a one-year pilot program to see if the kiteboarders (they stand on boards similar to wakeboards and hold a kite that can power them along the water) can co-exist peacefully with other beachgoers.


Considering the wind conditions are only ideal to launch from that location between 10 and 15 times in the hot season, kiteboarding enthusiasts are sure they will integrate seamlessly, said Chris Glazier of the Squamish Windsports Society.


“This is a big step forward,” Glazier said, adding a few dozen local enthusiasts already kiteboard in Squamish or Boundary Bay.


“The one place we were prohibited was Vancouver public beaches.”


Glazier is known as one of the local godfathers of the sport, which has been around for 15 years. He believes the city didn’t quite understand kiteboarding when they banned it.


Over a million people of all ages kiteboard around the world, he said, and it’s no more hazardous than other water activities. (Of course, you need to shell out hundreds of dollars for a board and a kite. Lessons are recommended first and are available in Squamish.)


“It’s just another way to get on the water, like windsurfing, to enjoy the beautiful location we have here,” he said.


During the ban, local kiteboarders would launch from city beaches in the winter when no lifeguards were around to stop them.


At first kiteboarding was known as “crazy,” but the equipment has improved to the point where the average age of most recreational kiteboarders is over 55, Squamish Windsports Society beach access director Stephen Codrington said. The city seems to have realized the participants won’t disrupt the public.


“It could be a golf crowd,” Codrington said.

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