As a surfer and former Rockaway Beach Lifeguard, I am
appalled that we are going
back to the Stone Age with regard to the ban on surfing. I, with my younger brother Jay,
were manhandled by lifeguards, had our boards confiscated and were ticketed for surfing
on beach 139th when there was a lifeguard in the tower! This was back in about 1980.
The Lieutenant didn't like surfers because we made him look like a weak swimmer. The
$2.00 tickets were ripped up and thrown in the mesh metal cans as soon as we retrieved
our surfboards from the sympathetic cops.
Surfing is a worldwide professional sport. The waves
in Rockaway are far from world
class, but they can be fun to ride. Good surf doesn't magically appear between the hours
of 9am and 6pm. Rockaway breaks best at mid-tide. Rockaway has too many surfers
to pile everyone on top of one another at just one beach. Why doesn't the city just say,
"If you are surfing, your surfboard is your personal rescue device, and we are not responsible for your safety." All surfers would say, "Right on, dude. Kowabunga!"
We could also stage protests. We could invite every
surfer within driving distance to come
and sit in the water on surfboards all up and down the peninsula as a show of civil disobedience. Our civil rights are being violated. Surfing is a key example of life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. I am 1700 miles away from Rockaway now, but I'm coming home for the Beach Channel Multiyear Reunion. I will surf when the surf's up and damn the tickets.
If the Parks Dept. Commissioner had any brains, he would deputize all surfers as unpaid, volunteer lifeguards. We are surfing on SURFBOARDS! I have rescued more people as a surfer than in my seven years on the beach as a lifeguard. I have rescued more than a dozen people while surfing, windsurfing and sailing.
What a no-brainer. With a shortage of lifeguards, what better than ocean-savy Rockaway surfers to patrol the waters while surfing.
KIRAN O'BRIEN ALLEN
ST. CROIX, USVI