Don't Be That Guy (Girl)
by Corky Carroll
In this day and age of mega surf crowds in the water at just about every break known to man or beast on the planet the issues of etiquette, common courtesy and safety procedures are debated over constantly. It is very prevalent here in Orange County as there are probably no unridden and not crowded surfing beaches anywhere to be found anymore.
I was thinking about this very thing a couple of weeks ago when I took a stroll out on the Huntington Beach Pier. When I was younger there were already crowds at the pier, this was in the 50’s and 60’s. But the crowd stuck right next to the pier, on both sides. If you stood on the pier and looked north or south there was nobody surfing once you got further away than about 50 yards from the pier.
Not now. Looking North and South for as far as you can see there are zillions of surfers. It looks like pepper on French fries. Packed to the max. And this is every day. Good surf, bad surf, rain or shine. Bringing me to the point of todays story. With all these people in the water there is more and more need for the aforementioned “etiquette, common courtesy and safety procedures.”
This has happened twice recently to people I know. One is the great surf legend Linda Benson. She got hit by a ditched board and spent a couple days in the hospital and was put out of surfing commission for months. The other was a neighbor of mine who had his arm broken.
The problem is that beginners are just unaware, or they just don’t care. Not long ago I saw this happen and I paddled over to the person who had let their board go and nicely told her to try as hard as she could to hold onto her board, not just let it go.
She looked at me with confusion on her face and asked me what I was talking about. I told her that it wasn’t cool to let go of her board, it almost hit the person inside of her. She glared back at me and said, “and so why is that my problem?”
I wasn’t sure what to say. That answer was so outright stupid and clueless that it sort of stopped me for a moment. THAT is the kind of attitude we are dealing with these days. Somehow, through instruction, or maybe even posted signs or something like that, these beginning surfers need to be educated about this stuff before they kill themselves or somebody else. It’s nuts out there.
This sort of brings back some classic and funny memories of growing up in the pre surf leash days, especially before boards went short. We had these big heavy logs and little or no wetsuits. If you lost your board it required a swim to the beach to get it back. In many spots there were rocks or jetties that could do serious damage to your board. Surfers would do just about anything to hold on to their boards in those days.
It was not uncommon to see some dude flying through the air holding on to the fin of his board. The boards were way too big and heavy to “duck dive,” so people would do anything to hold on when they got caught inside on a big set. There was the common “turtle” roll. Sometimes you would see somebody with their arms and legs totally wrapped around their board and glommed on for dear life.
It wasn’t so crowded then so mostly people held on to avoid swimming. But these days it is just too dangerous to let go. If you board gets ripped out of your hands by a wave then it’s what it is, you didn’t ditch it on purpose. But if you just let it go and it hits and injures somebody else, that is YOUR FAULT.
Don’t do it. Period.