Thursday, August 4, 2011

Paddleboard Regulations

This is a little off topic but also somewhat related. In the 1980s I was involved with US Windsurfing and worked to get the windsurfer exempted from the USCG life jacket regulations.
In October of 2008 the US Coast Guard ruled that a paddleboard was a vessel.

The big difference is that if you fall off a windsurfer the sail acts like a sea anchor. Not so on a paddleboard. What wearing a pfd would do for you if your board blew away is a matter for debate but at least you might survive the night at sea.

There is talk of an exemption for wearing a leash attaching your leg to the board. I am following up on this and will report back.
Here are some links to discussions on the subject that I found.

Note that the state of Rhode ISland (or any state for that matter) might have conflicting regs. so it depends on who stops you. If it is the D.E.M. you might be able to say you are a racing kayak.
Here are some snippets from the RI law.
For the purposes of these regulations, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(f) "Racing shell, rowing scull, and racing kayak" as defined by federal law, means a
manually propelled boat that is recognized by national or international racing
association(s) for use in competitive racing and one in which all occupants row, scull,
or paddle with the exception of a coxswain, if one is provided, and is not designed to
carry and does not carry any equipment not solely for competitive racing.

(1) Applicability
These regulations shall apply to all recreational boats that are propelled or controlled by
machinery, sails, oars, paddles, poles, and all other vessels except racing shells, rowing
sculls, and racing kayaks used on waters subject to the jurisdiction of this State except:

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