It’s been a crazy, busy summer along the Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coasts. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have descended on some of Victoria’s most popular coastal towns for some fun in the sun and surf.
Big crowds on the beach means big crowds in the water and at times key surf towns like Ocean Grove, Torquay and Anglesea have seen literally hundreds of surfers in the water at one time trying to catch a wave.
Dozens of people paddling for the same wave with dozens more standing in front off the breaking wave can make for some interesting situations. Throw in the fact that many first time surfers don’t have a clue about the laws of the ocean and accidents are bound to happen. There have been plenty of injuries from flying surfboards this summer, everything from ankle taps (a surfer falls off and their board hits someone) to more radical kickouts and other wipeouts resulting in stitches and lots of blood.
When inexperienced surfers mix with dozens of experienced surfers it can be a recipe for disaster and ‘surf rage’ can kick in (I might also add surf rage can also involve arseholes who just paddle for every wave and/or those surfers prone to multiple drop ins on other surfers).
Surf Rage has been a term thrown around since the early 1990’s when World Surfing Champion Nat Young was punched out in Northern New South Wales for abusing another surfer. To Nat’s credit he went and did something about it and pumped some money into programs around Australia (Spirit of Surfing) designed to reduce surf rage on our beaches.
Twenty years on and things haven’t really improved. Over development and over tourism mean that tens of thousands of people hit our coast on a hot day. Local surfers accept the crowds to a degree but when surfers start to drop in, paddle out through the surf one or do dumb stuff like kick their board out while surfing or while paddling out then it just tests peoples patience.
Last Saturday I was dropped in on twice on one wave and saw another surfer get entangled with a goat boat who dropped in on him and didn’t have a clue. He was trying to ride the wave while getting whacked in the legs by the whirling blades of the surf ski rider. My partner copped a board nose to the lower leg which now has a nasty bruise.
Surfing is a fun activity but growing crowds are going to make everyone angry if surfers drop in, flick boards, surf where they shouldn’t and in general do the wrong thing.
A bit of respect out in the ocean can go a long way!
Written by John Foss