From late January through this writing in late February, the surf has been pounding — not really huge, but sizeable and sometimes well shaped and glassy or offshore.
Got a nice day at Swami’s before the word got out and I was forced into overflow parking, a place I won’t name, except to say that the name makes little sense and that it helps remove some of the tension of the fiberglass freeway.
Surfing and tension are not words worthy of association, but with so many passive aggressive practitioners, riding waves can be less relaxing than the I-5-805 merge on Friday evening, complete with shouting, middle fingers and threatening.
Fortunately few people ever get physical in surfing, far fewer than in sports like basketball, baseball or football.
In fact, I would imagine that even chess has more altercations than surfing. Last week, however, proved a violent and sad exception.
I was on the cliff, pondering a second paddle out when a friend walked up the stairs and asked if I had seen the surfer push the guy in front of him. I hadn’t and didn’t think much more of it. Then came a guy running up the stairs with a surfboard that he impaled on the teardrop that guards the stairs’ entrance. “I won,” he said, before moving on.
Following that guy was another guy, apparently the board’s owner, running up the stairs. He retrieved his ruined surfboard and ran after its ruiner, swinging his board at him before throwing it and chasing him off. He was ready to for a fight, and I walked over and tried to calm him, hoping for a cease-fire and that nobody would go to jail. The one guy ran off while the other packed up his spoils and drove home.
While violence in the lineup is indeed unusual, bickering and yelling is common.
One surfer takes off and another says it’s his or her wave. It’s an old conflict with no winners.
You see, contrary to what surf books might say, the wave does not always belong to the surfer closest to the curl — sometimes that person is too far back or inexperienced to make the wave, at other times they may have the advantage of a too long board or a paddle.
For years surfers enforced the unwritten rules, until now, when there are just too many surfers competing for too few waves.
With many of those in the lineup just beginning, it is impossible for everybody to know the rules.
There are also other rules like not taking creatures from tide pools and not littering that are apparently not well-enforced.
Some time ago my friend Andrea and I contemplated an organization we were tentatively calling CoastGuaridans.
While not exactly a club, we figured that a loosely formed body of surfers and other beach users could be on the frontlines of beach and ocean rules.
This body could do everything from helping to teach the rules of the road to advising city council on who should gain surf contest permits.
They could help install recycling bins and work to keep our beaches clean and beautiful.
It’s just a thought. Please contact me if you think it’s a good one.
Filed Under: Sea Notes