Sunday, March 21, 2010

PFD PETITION for Stand Up Paddle Boarding

The new sport of Stand Up Paddle Boarding ("SUP") enables many people to enjoy our oceans, lakes, and rivers in all of their glory. From open ocean crossings, to surfing distant offshore reefs, paddling in harbors and cruising in our streams and estuaries, new opportunities abound for fisherman, photographers, surfers, and exercise enthusiasts of all stripes. The fast growth of SUP is challenging local and national governments how to safely integrate SUP activities while ensuring that all watercraft can maximize the enjoyment of our natural resources.
In October of 2008, the United States Coast Guard determined that SUP’s operated outside the surf zone were "vessels." This legal determination requires, among other things, that SUP riders must wear, or have attached to their boards, personal flotation devices ("PFD’s"). While there are specific conditions where PFD’s for SUP’s are appropriate such as running large whitewater rapids, the wearing of PFD’s in most circumstances is unnecessary and can hinder the safety of the SUP rider.
Unlike kayaks, canoes and other paddle craft that seat the operator, SUP riders must stand and continuously balance atop their board much like windsurfers. Few riders are willing to wear a PFD due to the discomfort and obstruction with the SUP’ers unique paddling stroke, causing most riders to lash the PFD to the deck of the SUP or wear a belted inflatable. In conditions of wind, waves and tidal flow it is more difficult for a rider wearing any type of PFD to swim and recover the board before it is swept away, and if the PFD is strapped to the board the rider may lose both the PFD and the SUP. Stand Up Paddle Boards are large unsinkable platforms that typically provide ten times the flotation of a PFD, and experienced riders know the safest operation requires staying with the board at all times. The consensus is that utilizing a leash firmly affix both the rider and the board achieves the highest level of safety and will be readily accepted by the SUP community.
I understand that wearing a PFD can and will save lives but it does impede an efficient paddle stroke and being attached to the board seem to be a better option. I do give lessons, demos and SUP clinics and do I know for a company's liability and insurance purposes a PFD is a must. My personal thought is I'd rather be afloat on a board that attached to my ankle than wearing a PFD vest floating adrift. I'm for the cause to petition that a 11 foot Stand Up Paddle board would be a better swim aid having the rider attached to the board. I signed and mailed the petition. Its up to you but the new law will effect all of us...
Thank you for your help in supporting the safe operation of SUP's!
Download , print ,sign and mail , MAHALO

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