November 6th 2008
Can they share the air?
Since Magnetic Times released news that Melbourne-based company Microflite was interested in adding Magnetic Island to a commercial helicopter service it is planning for the region, one activity, which shares a need for the same landing and take-off space, and is thought to be the fastest growing watersport in the world, kiteboarding, has now emerged as an activitity which could be impacted by the chopper plans.
Island resident and local kiteboarder Dr Andy Lewis has however been in discussion with Mr Gair Bowbyes from Microflite.
Nelly Bay is, according to Andy Lewis, the only kiteboarding spot on Magnetic Island that works in the prevailing trade winds, and the area adjacent to the old helipad is the only beachside location free of trees where large power kites can be safely launched and landed.
Kiteboarders at Nelly Bay
"I wanted to ensure that Gair understood that regular helicopter operations from the old helipad may affect the safety of our kiteboarding activities on the Island, and that we literally have nowhere else to ride," said Andy Lewis.
"Gair was sympathetic to our concerns and we had a productive discussion about alternative sites for the helicopter operations, as well as ways to allow helicopters and kiteboarders to safely co-operate in their use of Nelly Bay.
"Based on the expected heli service frequency of only three times per week, and the sporadic nature of the wind and our kiteboarding activities, it seems likely that the two activities are not incompatible at the Nelly Bay site, although, clearly, we would prefer to kite there without a helicopter service and I encouraged Gair to investigate the other possible locations. We agreed to hold further talks as the proposal evolves".
The Island kite community currently numbers about 8 locals and additional visitors from time to time.
Kiteboarding is, according to Andy Lewis, currently the fastest growing water sport in the world, and North Queensland is increasingly becoming recognised as a prime location for the sport due to its warm weather, regular trade winds and friendly atmosphere.
Andy said, "There is growing interest in kiteboarding tourism around Magnetic Island and the Townsville region, and we hope to be starting some kiteboarding expeditions to the nearby reefs and islands in 2009. To this end, it is important that we practice the sport safely and with respect for other beach and water users".
More information on kiteboarding on Magnetic Island can be found on Andy's website at http://www.tevenei.com/tvm/nellybay_kite_map.htm
Photos courtesy of Reef Eco Tours
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