Fri, 24 April 2020

As we await permission to surf from next Friday, hold thumbs that the government views the ocean as a place for exercise where strict Stage 4 protocols can be managed, writes Spike.


IN THE FUTURE: Surfers should immediately show willingness to follow protocol. Photo Unsplash

The problem lies when surfing is lumped under 'beach use', which puts us with potential hordes of beachgoers. How can we prove ours is a solitary pursuit? How can we prove that we will adhere to social distancing, promise! Or that we will wear wear masks. We will! Travel solo to surf spots? Yes! How can we SHOW this to government? Let's hope they've been looking at websites such as this, or the social media feeds of surfers. Hello Cyril Ramaphosa! Howzit Zweli Mkhize! Prof Karim! Bruuuu! We can only hope that you guys have looked at how beach use has been managed in countries where surfing and other forms of beach exercise have been permitted.

In an interesting possible parallel, San Diego has decided, as from Monday, to reopen certain beaches due to a very well researched motivation by residents. Part of the regulation - just as we have been saying - is that you can cross the beach to get to the surf, but you can't dawdle or stop on the journey. In other words, the beaches remain closed but act only as a corridor to the sea.

Is surfing a form of exercise that can be policed by local authorities?Does government view surfing as an exercise or a group sport? If the latter, don't get your hopes up to go surfing when a big cold front hits us next weekend. Can they open the ocean but not the beaches? Can they open obscure beaches, but keep busy ones closed, perhaps? We know that you will be able to leave your house for certain forms of exercise, perhaps to a curfew, so it is likely that walks and cycling will be allowed, but for surfing, it's unclear. See the story we ran after the ministers' briefing on Sunday that spoke in more detail about what level 4 means.

For surfers, the best strategy that could help our cause while we anxiously wait for details at the ministers' briefing is to get our heads into the zone that we will not mess with the law, and will be prepared to play ball with whatever protocols are in place should they relax the beach ban, no matter how strict they might be. We can only hope.


STAGE FOUR: Cyril suggested that some exercise will be allowed, but what about surfing?

NSW-signAs Kommetjie surfer Charles Didcott says, "The regulations are being made up as we go along, with decisions driven by the need to reduce the spread of the virus."

It is imperative, Didcott says, that surfers show themselves to be disciplined citizens who will abide by the law, "that we will adhere to physical distancing while surfing. This includes how we travel to a surf spot, and how we behave at that surf spot."

The regulations will become less restrictive in a gradual rollout in stages, with conditions and regulations that may vary from province to province. But in an interview with Cape Talk this morning, Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that he had the authority to increase a lockdown restriction, but not ease it. Fortunately, he is a mountain biker and I have heard he surfs as well, so he will be understanding. However, the decision is up to central government.

If they do let us surf, Didcott is in effect saying, don't screw it up! A responsible way to do it would be how it is rolled out in Australia. (See New South Wales sign above right) or what they have done in New Zealand, referring to recreational activities taking place in a socially distanced "bubble".

"Authorities have the power to reverse any loosening of regulations pertaining to surfing. They will do this if they feel that allowing surfing is contributing to the spread of the virus. That would be catastrophic for surfing," he says, saying that such a decision could be imposed right through the flu season, which is (gulp) the whole of winter.

It is unlikely that beaches will be opened if there is a fear that people will not keep social distancing so do your bit and get out there with a bold promise to:

  • GO BY YOURSELF (only exception is a member of your household)
  • PADDLE OUT, CATCH WAVES, GO HOME. No chilling at the beach

"We all love nothing better than chilling at the beach and going for a surf with our mates. If we are given the privilege of getting back in the water in the not too distant future, and want to keep it, we will have to change our ‘normal’ behaviour.

"By undertaking to surf responsibly, and then demonstrating that we are capable of doing this, we stand a chance of getting, and keeping, surfing back on the “permitted exercises” list," Didcott said.

aspectsofstage4 partsofcountry


Tim Elliott
0 #8 MrTim Elliott 2020-04-26 17:02
Speaking for Cape Town, I think the only problem surf spot will be Muizenberg which will need strict measures and policing in place. There can be clear cut guidelines in place and surfers will be very disciplined by nature. However the problem comes in identifying the non surfer hanging out at the car park. O but sorry I forgot about the swimmers ! ?
Peter Petersen
0 #7 No Ice and it'll be nicePeter Petersen 2020-04-25 09:57
Keep the ice-cream shops closed and there will be no one near the beaches - and going into winter there will be no one on beaches in any event (in the Cape at least). Keeping beaches closed to surfing is a dis-proportionate restriction, especially if running and cycling is allowed.
+5 #6 Fully agreeRuss 2020-04-25 07:41
All we want to do is to go and surf and if this means that we have to change our ways then so be it. Most of us surf and go home anyway. We just want to catch waves, stay fit and get on with our day. It will be up to the more disciplined surfer/s to make sure that no one steps out of line which may spoil it for others. Surfers are disciplined as the sport demands it.
Deon Kuntz
0 #5 MrDeon Kuntz 2020-04-24 20:07
Please allow us to surf
0 #4 DrDuncan 2020-04-24 19:33
Thanks guys
Push the fact that we are not on the beach
And get some high profile surfers like Jordy to assist
0 #3 DrDuncan 2020-04-24 19:27
Thanks for this guys
We need to push the fact that we won’t be on the beach, but in the water
And maybe get some high profile surfers to assist, like Jordy ???
Brent Badenhorst
+1 #2 MrBrent Badenhorst 2020-04-24 18:25
Surfing can completely be a solo sport!and are often respectable people....you cannot compare them to general mass gathering beach goers...
0 #1 MissBianca 2020-04-24 17:51
Can surfing be allowed if strict prevention protocols
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