Maroubra Surfers Want a Dialogue Amidst Plans to Ban Hydrofoil Surfing

For the last three years, hydrofoil surfing in the beaches of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, including Maroubra, has gained quite a following but plans to ban hydrofoil boards, whether partially or completely, could soon be imposed. Some Maroubra surfers aren’t jumping at the idea.

A group of hydrofoil surfers based in Maroubra have invited members of Randwick City Council to visit Maroubra beach and see their activities in action. They said that they are willing to discuss the sport and prove that this is not a danger to the public, especially as most of them are seasoned surfers.

Randwick City Council said that the plan to ban hydrofoil surfing was due to safety concerns on a busy beach. In 2019, Waverley Councils outlawed the specialised surfboards in Bondi Beach because its “high speed and metal-like keel” is a safety risk. 

During a meeting with the Coastal Advisory Committee in December 2021, Randwick City Council and Waverley Council said they will recommend the ban of these foil boards on the beaches.  

“Discussion with the key stakeholders on the Coastal Advisory Committee would be valued prior to finalising this report. Proposed recommendations are that Randwick City Council (RCC) considers the following options:

  • a. hydrofoils be allowed on all RCC beaches during the times when the beach is not patrolled by the RCC beach lifeguards
  • b. signage be erected that clearly states the following:
    • Hydrofoils are prohibited during the times when the beach is patrolled by lifeguards &/or lifeguards are on duty;
    • Hydrofoils need to keep a minimum of 60 metres from all other persons and non-powered vessels; and
    • persons engaged in recreational activities undertaken outside of the designated patrol hours do so at their own risk”

But Jeremy Wilmottes, who has been “foiling up” every morning at the beaches in Maroubra along with a dozen other surfers, said he is not aware of any reported incidents of injuries linked to hydrofoil surfing. The Councils said that they do not have enough data since the volume of foil boarders is still low. 

hydrofoil surfing
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wilmottes also said that he doesn’t think that the planned ban makes sense. He said that hydrofoil surfing is quite expensive and non-mainstream so whoever is into it will not be reckless. Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club president Danny Donohoe acknowledged that the boards are dangerous but he believes that the ban could be over the top. 

Hydrofoil surfboards are the latest in extreme watersports. It earned worldwide attention in 2020 after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was seen gliding on the water on an elevated board as he waved the U.S. flag during Fourth of July.