2002-08-17 / Community

Local Group Proposes

Surfing Compromise

Surfing Compromise

On Tuesday, August 12, members of the Ocean Sports Committee met with Councilman Addabbo requesting his support in presenting the following proposal to the appropriate city officials.  Councilman Addabbo was very helpful and showed great concern for the needs of our resident surfers.   It is our goal to present a logical policy, one that meets our needs and the city's concerns, for surfing in the Rockaways.  If you are in agreement with this policy we urge you to contact additional city officials requesting their support to help resolve the current dilemma so our residents and visitors can continue to enjoy the recreational sport of surfing in the Rockaways.

According to the local group, the proposal is an effort to continue the recreational sport of surfing in the Rockaways while protecting public safety and assisting the city of New York in avoiding frivolous lawsuits. It is proposed that surfing be permitted in the Rockaways year round from dawn to dusk under the following conditions:

A. The surfer uses a leash, commonly known as a power cord, which attaches to their ankle as well as to the surfboard.

B. The surfer does not surf alone but uses the "buddy" system.

C.     No surfer is to be within 25 yards of a bather.

During hours of lifeguard operation, surfing shall be permitted where and when supervising lifeguards feel it is safe for the bathing public. The rationale for the above-suggested policy is as follows:

In the last 40 years there has never been a surfing fatality in the Rockaways.

Surfers, as a group, are among the most knowledgeable and capable in dealing with a wide variety of ocean conditions. Many of our finest lifeguards are, themselves, surfers.

The supervising lifeguards are very capable of deciding where and when surfing should be permitted on a daily basis.

Frequently, the areas that are best for surfing are most hazardous for swimming. On numerous occasions surfers have come to the rescue of bathers caught in rip currents.

Restricting surfers to one small, designated area will actually create an unsafe, overcrowded condition. Both the city and the surfers will benefit by having the surfers spread out over the seven miles of ocean beach on the Rockaway peninsula.

Surfers are more akin to boaters than bathers as surfers always have a flotation device attached to them by a leash.

The suggested policy has been generated by a number of concerned residents in the Rockaways with a vast number of years experience as surfers, lifeguards, and lawyers. It is also similar to the policies in effect in a large number of ocean beach communities throughout the United States. It is our goal to help the city in developing a policy that helps and protects all.

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