Stab Magazine | The First Hydrofoil Ban Of Its Kind

The First Hydrofoil Ban Of Its Kind

The aquatic guillotine is banned from a 5km stretch of beach in Anglet, France. 

Words by stab

Hydrofoils, the part-surfboard, part-boat, part-guillotine has been banned from a five kilometre stretch of coastline in the south of France – a half an hour drive from the Quiksilver Pro in Hossegor. 

Hydrofoiling’s been on our horizon, our lunchtime scrolls and occasionally, on our beaches, for quite some time. We’ve spoken about the dangers of the decapitating craft before, and now, the City of Anglet has placed a ban on the bladed boards.

The bylaw signed by Mayor Claude Olive reads as follows:

Considering that there is a need to take enforcement measures to regulate the shoreline and the safety of swimmers [and] the danger of nautical activities using foils. The practice of any activity that may present a danger to the public (bathers) is strictly prohibited, especially activities using foils. Any infringement of this judgment will be established and prosecuted according to the provisions of the penal code. 

French surfers and swimmers with concerns for the structural integrity of their limbs and skull are likely rejoicing this very minute, however, those who have already succumbed to the alluring foil are not exactly excited by the “exaggerated” decision.

Stéphane Iralour, a Frenchman who surfs better than myself, and a self-confessed hydrofoil junky, is one of those angered by the decision. He told Surf Session the following:

Prohibit the foil in swimming areas, ok, no problem I can understand. But in the year and on all beaches, it is exaggerated. Why not just do a temporary stop as is already the case in Biarritz or Saint-Jean-de-Luz? The foil is a lot of fantasies, but there are no more accidents than with surfboards In addition, to practice the foil it takes water so it is often high tide. It is not at low tide when all surf schools are in the water. I find it a pity from the city.

To be fair, a complete ban may be overkill – particularly in areas lacking swimmers and surfable waves – but there are little comparisons to be made between the potential damage of a foil-board and normal board.

Yes, a set of standard fins may slice open your leg, or your board may recoil into your head, but a normal board doesn’t have the capacity to sever a limb quite like a foil. Stéphane is right in claiming that no incidents have happened in France, as of yet, but the closer the boards venture to swimmers – particularly under the feet of the incompetent – the higher the chance of injury climbs. 

Anglet is the first city to place an outright ban on the boards, but with their inexorable popularity continuing to grow, it’s only a matter of time before other bans and/or injuries pop up around the globe.

If only everyone was as good at foiling as Kai Lenny, then we’d all be safe…

Just in case you read French. 

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