Debate over stand-up paddleboarders migrates to Kauai


POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kauai surfers and stand-up paddleboarders are talking about how to share the ocean.

Some water users have been complaining to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources about people trying the relatively new sport of stand-up paddleboarding.

Some say stand-up paddleboarders take all the waves and are dangerous to people in the water. Others argue that beginning stand-up paddleboarders use boards that are too big for their skill level.

The department plans to host a public discussion of water safety and etiquette on Kauai today.

On Oahu the state decided to use buoys to demarcate safe zones for swimmers and stand-up paddleboarders at Ala Moana Beach Park after hosting a public discussion on the issue.

“;Stand-up paddling has its place in the world of water sports,”; said Bill Hamilton, surfer, surfboard and stand-up paddleboard designer. “;It's a wonderful cross-training exercise.”;

Hamilton is also the father of Laird Hamilton, the world-class waterman who is known for playing a large part in reviving and mastering the sport of stand-up paddleboarding.

He has some reservations about where people are riding the boards. Hamilton proposed that specified areas be set aside for those still learning the sport, to avoid accidents.

Patty Irons said people who do not have knowledge and control are the ones who present safety issues in Hanalei Bay.

“;Beginners do not belong at the bay,”; said Irons, a longtime surfer and Kauai resident who also enjoys stand-up paddling.

But Irons and other Kauai waterwomen and men are skeptical about the state getting involved in the surfing world, which has a long history of being self-regulated.

“;I just honestly don't see how people can regulate it,”; Irons said.

“;It all comes down to courtesy,”; said Rob Brower, a longtime surfer and resident. He compared the surfer-versus-standup paddler dispute to the short board-versus-long board issue years ago, which worked itself out.

Information from: The Garden Island: www.kauaiworld.com