You will see them at many of Pembrokeshire favourite surfing beaches, particularly Freshwater West and Newgale, and they provide a focus of interest to people watching from the shore.
The expert kitesurfers attract the admiration of spectators as they skilfully manouevre their boards by using every gust and eddy of the offshore wind to speed along the surfline or perform spectacular aerobatic moves on the inshore stage, with its scenic background.
Kite sports, which include kitesurfing, buggying and boarding have been rapidly spreading in Pembrokeshire during the last five years and by now are pretty well established on the larger beaches of the county, most particularly Newgale, where there is a two-mile stretch of flat, firm sand at low water. The sport in all its forms needs firm control to assure safety for both the fliers and the public generally, as other beach users can be compromised by the speedy, and sometimes unpredictable activities of the exponents of this complex pastime.
Kitesurfers have to be constantly aware of the presence and movement of other beach users and particularly swimmers and surfboarders, who are vulnerable as they are unable to take swift evasive action in the event of an imminent collision.
These circumstances have prompted the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to issue advice on some key points to be considered. They advise exponents to take lessons to learn the basics of control, safety and situation assessment. They also advise Kitesurfers to:
Be sensible and ensure they have lots of space, avoiding small beaches and crowded areas.
Consider the weather and wind speed in terms of ability and kite size.
Check the beach noticeboard for seasonal restrictions and guidelines.
Be considerate towards other beach users, taking responsibilty for control.
Invest in third-party insurance.
And the Authority advises other beach users to:
Avoid walking or standing under a kite or downwind of the kite flier.
Never touch the kite lines.
Remember that, although it is the flier’s responsibility to avoid other beach users, in some scenarios it may be safer to move.
In an emergency where help is needed, weight the kite down with rocks or sand.
While many of the surf sports providers offer advice, tuition and equiment for surfing, surfboarding and other disciplines, not all of them deal with kite sports with their rather specialised skills. There are lists of providers in the National Park’s comprehensive free publication Coast to Coast which is distributed widely throughout the county.
Information is also available at the TICs, or the National Park Authority’s websites at www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk or www.arfordirsirpenfro.org.uk or on the websites of the water sports providers throughout the county.
The National Park Tourist Information Centres are: Oriel y Parc at St Davids, telephone 01437-720392 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.orielyparc.co.uk. Newport TIC in Long Street, telephone 01239-820912 or newportTIC@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk and Tenby TIC at South Parade, telephone 01834-845040 or email@example.com.