Uproar over ‘dangerous’ new beach trend on the rise in Australia – before ‘jealous’ haters are called out

Beachgoers have raised concerns about a new surfing trend emerging across Australia that has been banned on some of our most popular beaches.

Hydrofoiling is an emerging sport in which riders use a surfboard-like vessel equipped with a curved, wing-shaped fin underneath.

This fin suspends the board above the water, allowing riders to glide effortlessly across the surface – even on flat water.

While some are propelled by ocean currents or by the ‘pumping’ motion of a rider, others are also equipped with a lithium-powered jet propulsion system.

Despite the rising popularity of hydrofoiling around the world, it is banned on some of Sydney’s most popular beaches, including Clovelly, Coogee, Maroubra, Bronte, Bondi and Tamarama.

However, some hydrofoils, also known as foils, choose to ignore this, which has led to tensions between those in the water.

One incident took place at Bondi Beach earlier this year, where a hydrofoil rider was confronted by a beachgoer while riding a wave who said it was dangerous.

A hydrofoil was confronted at Bondi Beach in Sydney, where the sport is banned

The beachgoer who confronted the rider shared on Facebook: ‘I spoke to one of them and thought he shouldn’t know, said he knows and doesn’t care.’

“I’ve seen so many near misses, a dad and his young daughter who were surfing had a near miss with them and then the guy told them to watch out for his foil.”

However, local and prominent Bondi activist Joshua Ku said the ban was an overreach by the council.

“Instead of applying common sense to the situation, councils think they should just create a rule and then that rule will protect everyone,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

“To the untrained eye, the activity looks dangerous, but if you look at all the reports, no one on a foil board actually hurt anyone on the beach.”

Mr Ku added that hydrofoiling is not banned at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, despite it attracting more than four million swimmers every year.

He said many surfers were “jealous” of foils.

“If someone’s sitting there and maybe they don’t get as many waves as this foiler, instead of looking at it and saying it looks really fun and exciting, they’d rather just sit there and whine,” he said.

Having surfed all his life before becoming a foiler, Mr Ku said the young community is more welcoming to newcomers than to surfers trying to protect their local surfing destination from outsiders.

Joshua Ku (pictured), a prominent figure in the hydrofoil industry, argued that a municipal ban on the activity was unnecessary

Joshua Ku (pictured), a prominent figure in the hydrofoil industry, argued that a municipal ban on the activity was unnecessary

Hydrofoiling is banned on some of Sydney's most popular beaches, including Bondi (pictured)

Hydrofoiling is banned on some of Sydney’s most popular beaches, including Bondi (pictured)

“That’s just surf culture. “When you have old surfers who feel like they have a connection to their local beach and a bit of ownership, they think they can be the ones to lead the way,” he said.

“They don’t like it when a new sport comes on the market and it’s more effective than what they’re playing.”

Deviating from the classic “local surfer” culture is one of the reasons why Mr. Ku is so passionate about growing the foil community.

“If you’re paddling a foil board and there’s another foiler, they’re always so excited to see you,” he said.

“They ask you, ‘What are you riding? What have you been up to lately with your foiling?’ And it’s just a very refreshing attitude.”

Mr Ku hopes that future discussions with local councils will help increase the amount of time foilers can enjoy surfing and possibly move towards a lifting of the ban.

Others pointed out the hypocrisy of the ban, emphasizing that swimmers may feel equally anxious due to the presence of many out-of-control surfers.

The ban on foils in Bondi was introduced by Waverley Council in 2019 and extended south to Malabar by Randwick City Council in 2022.

“We share the community’s concerns about hydrofoil surfboards and public safety,” a Waverley Council spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We ask riders to leave the water or inform them upon arrival that hydrofoils are not allowed to be used on our beaches.

‘This proactive approach by lifeguards has been effective and the majority of riders respect our position.

‘We are calling on hydrofoil riders to respect the rules and we will continue to have discussions with our neighboring councils and local hydrofoil rider groups to ensure a consistent approach to addressing public concerns.’