New amendments to Cayman’s port regulations have paved the way for hosting watersports events outside of designated zones.

The changes allow for the creation of temporary watersports zones, subject to the approval of the Port Authority, for the hosting of one-off special events, according to Acting Port Director Joseph Woods.

Prior to the changes, Woods said, watersports events were only allowed in eight designated sites on Grand Cayman.

“The watersports operators who do special events like jet-ski races and [so on], they were wanting to put on races in areas that were outside of the designated watersports zones, and we couldn’t permit it because the law didn’t allow for it. Now the regulations cater for that,” Woods told the Cayman Compass in an interview on Tuesday.

He explained that the changes in the regulations allow the authority to approve watersports operators conducting an event in any particular area and issue measures the operators have to incorporate in order to hold their events.

“Normally, without [the amendment], you cannot travel parallel to the shore, closer than 50 yards from the shore, and you cannot exceed 5 miles an hour closer than 200 yards from shore. So, this allows us to waive all of those and set the parameters for that particular area in a particular event,” said Woods.

He made it clear that any event promoters applying for the authority’s approval will have to strictly adhere to the guidelines and parameters set out by his team.

Woods said the applications for approval do not carry a fee, and will be assessed by the authority and the Joint Marine Unit. He said he is uncertain if the newly formed Cayman Islands Coast Guard will also weigh in on the applications, as the amendment was set out before the new agency was formalised.

“We will consider [the application] and then we set the criteria for them to have [the watersports event]. They have to meet whatever safety restrictions that we put on, and once they agree to that, then they can hold it for the time specified for them to do so.

Then, after that, it’s back to normal,” Woods said.

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