2002-08-24 / Letters

Ban on Surfing?

Dear Editor;
Ban on Surfing?

Ban on Surfing?

Dear Editor;

You are paddling on the brand new board you just got shaped in California, and are having the time of your life. Struggling to your feet on a 5-foot perfect wave, you quickly get to the bottom and begin adoring the natural force of a wave propelling you forward. As soon as you put your hand against the wall of the wave for speed reduction purposes, you are quickly engulfed into the "darkness of a barrel." As you stay high upon the face, you can't help but looking out the curtain as the lights awaits you. You quickly get shot out of this mother nature inspired tunnel and let out a tremendous cheer of happiness. Totally content with your life and love for surfing, you notice too a 4X4 SUV cruising down the beach as an officer driving it signals you out of the water. "I'm going to have to write you a summons and I am taking your board down to the 100th precinct," the male officer said. "But what for?," you ask. "You can't swim when lifeguards aren't on duty," he said. "Besides, it's too dangerous anyway," he said. "But I am a lifeguard, and am aware that I surf at my own risk," I said. "I don't care," he said. Truly saddened by the matter, you snap back into reality and realize just how ignorant these people are. This leads to a respectable question. Why should local surfers be banned on account of non-locals who fail to read, NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY?

Recently many local surfers have been appalled by the city's decision to ban surfing. Some of these locals have grown up on the beach their whole lives. Serious surfers even surf during the winter. This entails wind chills below zero, water temps in the upper 30's, and 3 feet of snow on the beach. Truly dedicated to the ocean, a surfer can care less about a few minor hardships. Most surfers understand ocean conditions and how many factors it takes to make a decent swell. Avid surfers know about oceanic bottom conditions, wind/weather patterns, in-shore and long-shore currents, swell directions, tides, and even water quality. That is more knowledge than someone from "Da Bronx" or Manhattan. In fact most of the individuals enforcing the ban on surfing have spent close to no time in the ocean. I have lived in the water for almost 20 years, was a NYC lifeguard for two, and have been a California State student and lifeguard for the past two years. I can say with confidence that the city's decision to ban surfing when lifeguards aren't on duty is not acceptable to the surfing community. The city's laws and ideas are apparently archaic. What they need to do is study some of our better park and recreation regulations of our country.

In California, the state accepts surfing as a recreational sport. The lifeguards and state of California realize that surfers are anything but harmful. California trains their lifeguards in First Aid, CPR, and ocean skills better than any organization in the country. Unsurprisingly, they have one of the best programs internationally. But aside from the more obvious roles that come with the job, Cal-State lifeguards have excellent public relations. These lifeguards even educate local kids about the ocean by offering a "Junior Lifeguard Program." One thing is for sure, Cal-State lifeguards LOVE surfers. They realize surfers can be the first one on a rescue and can handle themselves professionally. Because surfers look at the ocean and beaches as a second home, they do everything in their power to protect them. They have formed tremendous non-profit organizations such as the "Surfriders Foundation." This non-profit organization has come to the aid of protecting surfers from situations involving water pollution and other environmental hazards. Not only do they protect surfers from things like unsanitary ocean dumpings, which has happened here in NY/NJ in recent years, they help surfers fight unjust laws like a ban on surfing. Surfers have proved themselves before and can do it again.

So whoever made this outlandish law, now is the time to consider revising it. If you have an argument against mine, I would love to hear it. Whoever passed this law, you are an ignorant ocean illiterate person who doesn't care about the Rockaway community. And for those who are upset with the ban on surfing, don't just sit there! Write letters. Do something! We have enough people to fight this ridiculous law and keep on surfing. If we don't take a stand now, we may never surf here again. Let's unite! We can all join together, surf together and remain united in our beliefs. Go back to the city you DFD's (people that are down for the day). Somebody please send me an e-mail. Shred654@excite.com.

PAUL WETTERAU


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