Jet-skiers told to slow down on Lake Taupo

MIKE WATSON
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2012

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Jet-skiers have been warned again to stick to the speed limits on Lake Taupo and Rotorua lakes as the summer holiday crowds flock to popular beaches.

The powerful watercraft have become popular for their high speed and manoeuvrability.

But as jet-ski ownership has increased in the region so too have accidents.

The majority of jet-ski incidents involve inexperienced males, aged 17 to 30, according to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

In January Rotorua schoolboy Bishop Thompson died in Lake Okareka, near Rotorua, when he fell off the back of a friend's jet ski while racing on the lake.

Thompson, who was not wearing a lifejacket, was hit by a second jet ski ridden by another friend close behind.

Reporoa College student Dion Clothier, 17, said jet skis were powerful, especially the bigger versions, and it was important to treat them with respect.

"You don't want to be an idiot when you ride one on the lake," he said.

"You can have just as much fun if you keep to the regulations."

Dion, and two school friends, Ryan Hathaway and John Reay, both 17, had the waterway out from Four Mile Bay, Lake Taupo, to themselves yesterday.

The bay, a popular swimming beach, has a 5-knot (9kmh) speed limit for boats within 200 metres of shore, and within 50 metres of other boats.

Lake Taupo harbourmaster Phillip King said he had received no reports of dangerous behaviour by jet-skiers, or other boat users, on the lake so far this summer.

Wearing lifejackets was compulsory for jet-skiers on Lake Taupo.

Anyone over 15 years can operate a jet ski without a licence and users are subject to the same maritime regulations as boaties.

Jet-ski owners are able to attend day skipper courses organised by the Coastguard.

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- The Dominion Post

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