Paddling in front of someone's right of way should be discouraged but sometimes can't be avoided. The rider avoids a collision at Padang Padang, Bali in 2008. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.
Paddling in front of someone's right of way should be discouraged but sometimes can't be avoided. The rider avoids a collision at Padang Padang, Bali in 2008. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.

Major issues in our waters

LAST week Surf Scene covered the overcrowding problem and ventured the suggestion that wave pools and artificial reefs could help solve that problem.

The artificial reef at Palm Beach could pave the way for others up and down the coast, but will it solve overcrowding or create more crowds?

Surfing is such a popular recreational activity and is showing no signs of slowing down. In our modern society it seems academics are questioning the sustainability issue on just about everything, and surfing is no exception.

This week Surf Scene examines surf etiquette and how important it is to mitigate and address certain issues such as surf rage and respect for others in the line-up.

One issue that was reported on at the City of Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve Local Stewardship Committee meeting was leg ropes, or lack of them. The advisory group manages the WSR under council’s Surf Management Plan, with feedback from lifeguards and other beachgoers, including councillors’ reports on offending behaviour in the surf.

Byron Bay, especially The Pass, has its share of longboard hipsters not wearing leg ropes and losing their boards in a crowded line-up. The retro hair-bun surfers like re-creating the freedom of the ’60s by not attaching a leg rope but the only problem was when they lost their board, it created carnage and unfortunately people were being seriously injured. The easy solution here: if you are surfing by yourself or a mate no worries, but in a crowd please wear your leg rope to keep everyone safe.

Ironically pulling leg ropes in contests has been part of dirty tricks in competition since ropes were introduced in 1973, but let’s stick to recreational activity.

Dropping in is considered worse than a cardinal sin. It is the ultimate insult and can lead to nasty confrontation. Take for example the recent incident when former women’s World Tour professional surfer Jodie Cooper suffered a drop-in at Lennox Head and the offender took it further by trying to drown Jodie. Consequently, the offender was convicted of aggression and assault. This should never have happened.

Having a party wave where everyone takes off together or sharing a friendly go behind is all about fun but try not to burn someone by dropping in or forcing the lip line to collapse.

Every surfer is guilty of this one but try to be fair and give the surfer on the inside the benefit of the doubt.

Paddling in front of someone’s takeoff is equally offensive and can result in a collision or injury, and shows little or no respect.

Allow the path to be unobstructed by pulling back, even if you have to cop the wave on the head. At least you have given a surfer right of way without blocking their progress and setting up the wave.

New surf craft such as stand-up paddleboards, jet skis and foils have added a new complexity to the dynamic of overcrowding. If common sense prevails there can be a place for everyone as long as sanity is adopted, and we can learn to share the waves. There can be a time and place for all manner of surf craft and they don’t all have to be in the same place.

Don’t destroy what you came to enjoy. This was the famous quote from Charlie Bartlett, known as “Charles of the Sea”, formerly from Maroubra and a big-wave rider from Bells Beach. Charlie coined that phrase in the early ’70s and it is just as relevant today as it was back then.



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