Huguenot Park likely to remain a haven for kiteboarders, despite new state law

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Huguenot Park will likely remain a hospitable spot for kiteboarders, despite a new state bill that alarmed some who worried the area would soon be off-limits to the sport.


“We hope it won’t have a major impact on kiteboarders,” said Pam Roman, a spokeswoman for the city’s parks department, which manages the oceanfront park at the mouth of the St. Johns River.


An amendment to a new state bill will ban kiteboarding within one mile of an airport runway. Mayport Naval Station is directly across the St. Johns River from Huguenot, a prime kiteboarding location for beginners and experts alike.


Roman said the parks department looked at the bill and believes only a small part of Huguenot, an area not much used by kiteboarders, will be in that limited area.


Before the bill takes affect Oct. 1, the parks department will meet with the city’s legal department and representatives of the Navy, just be sure, she said.


Gov. Rick Scott signed off on a bill that will impose stricter rules on the commercial parasailing industry, which has seen some high-profile deaths and injuries among its customers. Parasailors are towed behind boats and can reach hundreds of feet in the air.


A late House amendment added restrictions on kiteboarders, even though they ride on wind-power alone, skimming over waves on modified surfboards, tethered to lines of about 60 or 70 feet in length.


The amendment first would have restricted kiteboarding within five miles of an airport. That greatly alarmed kiteboarders, who began a statewide petition against the bill. That was later scaled back to one mile of an airport runway.


A Navy spokesman in May said the kiteboarders aren’t a problem at the Mayport base.


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