Boarder jacket law eased

Paddleboarders have been exempted from wearing lifejackets within 200m of the shores of Queenstown Lakes District's lakes.

The exemption was passed with full support at yesterday's final full Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting for the year.

Paddleboards are large surfboards on which a person sits or stands and propels and steers with a paddle.

The majority of the council was in September convinced by paddleboarders to amend the Waterways Navigation Safety Bylaw 2009 that would see them included with surfers in a life-jacket exemption. As long as a leg tether is worn at all times, paddleboarders will not have to wear a personal flotation device within 200m of any lake shore. Paddleboarders will be required to wear flotation devices while on rivers.

Russell Mawhinney, one of three councillors on the hearing panel, said the decision meant paddleboarders remained "free to enjoy the sport without unnecessary impediment".

"It also addresses the issues that Marty Black [Queenstown harbour master] and Maritime New Zealand were concerned with ... and commercial operators will still have a robust system with the adventure safety regulations now in place."

The council decided not to wait for the outcome of a Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) paddleboard review and deal with the "grey area" itself. It called for public submissions, receiving 15, of which four opposed an exemption.

Many of those in favour of the exemption were paddleboarders, who argued that the board itself was a flotation device and use of further flotation devices or wetsuits would lead to overheating in the aerobic sport.

Queenstown paddleboarder Mike Stewart, one of those who submitted against having to wear life jackets, yesterday said the decision was "great for now", but could lead to more confusion.

"It's a reasonable and fair decision, but it would have been good to wait for the Maritime New Zealand ruling to come out... as that could lead to confusion if that is different."

MNZ wanted the QLDC to delay the amendment until a focus group reported back on personal flotation device research.

The focus group is to include paddleboarders, MNZ experts, members of the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum and Marty Black, a forum member.

 

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