Breiana Whitehead competing at the Australian Kite Foiling Titles in Melbourne. Note: this photo is used as an example of what foiling is. Photo: Beau Outteridge
Breiana Whitehead competing at the Australian Kite Foiling Titles in Melbourne. Note: this photo is used as an example of what foiling is. Photo: Beau Outteridge

‘Cut someone in half’: Debate rages over foil use

Calls are being made for a shake-up to the way a "potentially lethal" surfcraft is being used on some of the Sunshine Coast's most popular beaches.

Noosa World Surfing Reserve will hold a roundtable meeting later this month with surfers and stakeholders to discuss changes to the way surf foils are used in the shire.

It comes after hydrofoils were banned at the iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney in 2019 after they were labelled "too dangerous" to coexist with swimmers and beachgoers by Waverley City Council.

Noosa reserve president Phil Jarratt said there had been too many close calls involving foil users and swimmers over the summer holidays.

While Mr Jarratt called for controlled changes to be introduced, he, and the reserve, did not call for an outright ban of foils.

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Scott Whitehead competing at the Australian Kite Foiling Titles in Melbourne. Photo: Beau Outteridge
Scott Whitehead competing at the Australian Kite Foiling Titles in Melbourne. Photo: Beau Outteridge

"It's now two years since Waverley council took one look at the emerging danger at Australia's highest density beach, Bondi, and banned foils outright," Mr Jarratt said.

"We don't want to see that happen here.

"I grew up in the era of surfboard registration and board confiscation for alleged infringements, and ever since then I've believed that in surfing, self-regulation beats handing your future to people in uniforms."

Noosa Boardriders Club secretary Michael Court told the Sunshine Coast Daily that foils were "extremely dangerous" when used without caution.

"I don't want to see them banned, but there has to be further education surrounding them," Mr Court said.

"They could slice someone in half, worse than a longboard.

"People ride them way too close to swimmers around Little Cove, Teat Tree and Granite Bay.

"It's a massive issue not just in Noosa but I'd say the whole Coast."

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Noosa’s popular surfing spot Tea Tree Bay.
Noosa’s popular surfing spot Tea Tree Bay.

Mr Jarratt said the NWSR committee had been in touch with experienced surfers and boardriding clubs in the region to seek their opinion on the matter.

He said the committee was also in talks with Noosa Council and Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaving Club about control measures that could be put in place.

Mr Jarratt said there had been a "concerning" number of incidents and too many near misses on Noosa's point breaks over the holiday period.

"Although electric powered foil boards are being rented and used in the river system, surfing foils, powered only by their own hydrodynamics and the energy of the rider, are capable of very high speed runs with a sharp blade edge exposed between the board and the water," he said.

"In the right hands and in the right places, they are highly creative and legitimate surfcraft.

"But in the tight takeoff zone of a crowded point break, they are potentially lethal."

What do you think should be done? What changes would you like to see introduced? Let us know in the comments.


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