As I’m sure you're aware, the world is pretty much at a standstill. Jogging is limited to once a day, social gatherings are limited to just 2 people in public. Public parks and skate parks are now closed for the unforeseeable future, so why are surfers still hitting the breaks to score a few? There’s been a lot of attention for surfers in the media within the past week, and not in a positive way. Despite beaches closing and social distancing becoming more of a way of life than a simple request, surfers are taking the risk and finding themselves not only being shot at but the centre of media attention. The public, and those that don’t surf, are slowly taking a negative stance towards surfing based on the actions of just a few.
As it currently stands in Australia, it is possible to surf for exercise, but sunbathing on the beach is a massive no-no. Throw in the restrictions on unnecessary travelling and unless the beach is on your doorstep, you're not allowed to surf. The guidelines are so confusing and lack sense, the rules are forever changing so by the time you're reading this, surfing will have another restriction.
A “select” few have proved to both the surfing community and the public that, for now, surfing has been outlawed.
I get it, surfing is your right, it’s exercise, “a way of life”, and shouldn’t be totally ruled out. Unfortunately, we don’t make the rules and breaking them might cause more harm than good. As a surfer you are not in this alone, it's like staring at a frosty glass of water during a heatwave, you want to reach out and satisfy that thirst. Surfing rarely or never has restrictions put against it. To now have that restriction in place sure feels like a kick in the teeth. Again, we get it.
Recently a video emerged in Costa Rica of a police officer discharging his weapon in an attempt to lure some surfers out of the water who were breaching self-isolation rules. This turned into a casual beach chase erupting with the officer unloading his weapon, again, which could easily be edited to the theme of Benny Hill. Even Kelly Slater took a stab at the authorities on Twitter (keep hiding in your Wave Pool, mate). Another video emerged last week of a surfer in Peru being arrested for breaching quarantine regulations. The soaked/shocked surfer was taken with board in hand and slumped into a police car, taken down to the police station still wearing his wetsuit, no doubt leaving salt stains on the seats.
Actions like these are causing a lot of stigma within the surfing community. The public is quick to criticise and for good reason. Everyone you know has had to sacrifice something during the COVID-19 outbreak. People have lost their jobs, can’t afford to pay rent, cancelled weddings and so on. Surfers are not exempt from the rules, regardless of practising social distancing or not, for now it's clear; you should not be surfing! Well it’s safe to say that for now, we should stay clear of the water, is it worth the risk of not only potentially contracting coronavirus but also landing a hefty fine for surfing? No. A “select” few have proved to both the surfing community and the public that, for now, surfing has been outlawed. As it currently stands, it is irresponsible to be out surfing. Time is a great healer in this situation. Things will get better; we are all aware of this. Before we know it, we will look back at this like it was like a freakish nightmare that continued to make 2020 one of the weirdest years yet. As always, be safe, stay indoors, and keep your sanity.
The ocean can wait!