Surf reserve announced amid growing debate on surf rage

10 Mar

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By Katia Pearsall and Livia Treanor

The Gold Coast’s title as the eighth World Surf Reserve comes amid heated debate on how to mitigate surf rage.

The 16-kilometre stretch from Burleigh Heads to Snapper Rocks was officially declared a World Surf Reserve on Tuesday with a dedication ceremony at Point Danger conducted by politicians and the Coast’s surfing elite.

It coincides with the recent council approval of the Surf Management Plan on how to mitigate overcrowding on popular point breaks, and today’s start of the Quiksilver Pro.

Mayor Tom Tate spoke of the possibility of another artifical reef, while executive director of Save The Waves coalition Nik Strong-Cvetich suggested a ranking system for beginners through to experienced and pro surfers.

Jake Treanor from North End Boardriders said he was tired of competing with tourists and beginners for waves.

“Snapper Rocks is an incredible wave, but honestly I hate surfing there regularly,” Jake said.

“There are far too many tourists and beginners who paddle out on a new board they don’t know how to use and end up injuring people.

“It gets frustrating when you have so many people in the water and some of the locals are completely nuts… if you drop in on them its best you go in before you get a beating.”

Bond University assistant professor of psychology Dr Bruce Watt has begun researching surf rage.

Dr Watt said he was motivated after Hawaiian former pro surfer Sunny Garcia was involved in an altercation at Burleigh with a local surfer and an amateur cameraman. Garcia was charged with assault at the time but the charges were later dropped.

Dr Watt said his research would focus on identifying key factors for surf rage including localism, surf conditions, people most likely to act out, and the crowded nature of the beaches.

He said often aggression at the beach started even before surfers hit the water.

“Some surfers have identified that there are limited car parks available at some beaches and finding a park can be difficult in peak surf conditions resulting in frustrations outside of the water to continue upon entry into the water,” said Dr Watt.

He said the mayor’s suggestion of more artificial reefs – one exists at Narrowneck – was not particularly successful on the Gold Coast.

Plenty of the Coast’s surf elite have spoken out in recent times in an effort to bring attention to the issue, including former world champions Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew and Andrew McKinnon. Both were contacted by BGCN but were unavailable for comment.

Despite rising levels of surf rage local surfer Amy Rorke from Burleigh said


 it should be about having fun.

“Some people just need to chill out and remember that the art of surfing should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience,” she said.

“Angry surfers should just remember that there will always be another wave.”


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