24 July, 2018 24 July, 2018

Tamarin Bay: Localism Explained

Mauritius is home to a collection of world class waves, but the notorious locals dubbed ‘the white shorts’ have made things unpleasant for many surfers who have visited. Back in 2015, after returning from his ninth trip to the Indian Ocean island, Craig Jarvis shared a few ‘Hard Rules‘ to follow when visiting the ‘tranquil’ island of Mauritius. After another incident hit the headlines recently, Clayton Truscott penned the following piece, which originally appeared here, in response.

Tamarin Bay: Information Overload With A Chance of Being Eaten Alive

Am I in a cult?

That’s the question that springs to mind when videos like this one crop up online.

 

To the outside world, the scenario is hard to explain:

  • A grown man is surfing his local break
  • He sees a child riding a soft-top with a GoPro in mouth; doesn’t like it
  • He slaps the child to make a point
  • Then paddles back out for more waves
  • Soon, the child’s dad shows up and demands answers
  • The local surfer and his friends decide to beat the dad up; again, to make a point
  • Again, he carries on surfing; possibly considers chicken or beef on the barbie

You might not be able to defend the logic, but most surfers understand the tweaked logic behind the situation.

Like, you know the characters and have seen some variation of this go down.

Surfing can be a selfish thing.

Sure, there’s ritual, exercise, the appreciation of nature, and a sense of community baked into the equation. But catching waves is not a team activity. Nobody likes to share this experience.

For the sake of order, there are international rules that govern priority in the water. You don’t have to speak the same language to know who has the right of way. The person sitting deepest generally wins. It’s not goddamned rocket science if you understand the dynamics of catching waves.

Still, we all try to get away with as much as we can within the boundaries of those social constructs. Everyone has, at some point, taken more than their share of waves or hassled someone unnecessarily.

Early in our relationship, my wife witnessed me throwing a tantrum over not being able to surf for a third consecutive week. I was working two jobs and going to school, and the odds were not in my favor; when I had time there were no waves, and when there were waves I had no time. That’s just how it goes, sometimes. She heard me cursing the weather and my commitments, acting like I’d been severely wronged by every member of my family, and told me I sounded ridiculous and embarrassing.

I agreed. But knowing that it would be another week or two before I could surf felt like cruel and uncalled for punishment. And it was unbearable.

That feeling is what I would imagine has metastasized and run wild and unchecked in Mauritius.

I do wonder what would happen to me on an island like Mauritius, with a perfect left and only a handful of really good days a year — maybe I’d become an idiot, too?

 

At any decent wave, the local surfers are often on the best waves on any given day. This is a simple equation. They know the spot, the nuances of the setup, and have earned their place in the lineup over time.

Tamarin Bay is a weird exception to this rule.

It’s a great wave, but it’s fickle and the French expat locals (aka White Shorts) are nuts. I was in Mauritius a few years ago to write a story and had an opportunity to paddle out when it was pretty good — and witnessed the White Shorts put on a display of localism that bordered on lunacy. They were brazen and unapologetic and confident in their reputation for violence. The fact that hardly any of them could get barreled at their sacred break made their behavior hard to respect or justify.

To the outside world — even within the surfing community — it would appear that a bunch of kooks is holding the spot captive.

Maybe I have this wrong, but nobody I spoke to could give me a good reason why they’re protecting the wave with so much anger.

Is that even the point?

People always say that surfing is a great way to turn your brain off and forget about the problems of the world for a few hours. That it’s totally relaxing and peaceful.

That’s not the case for me. I find that nowadays I can only switch off for the few seconds that I’m actually riding a wave. The rest of the time, I’m thinking about finding the right spot, my family, what we’re doing later, running over questions that normally keep me up at night. Or just stressing about sharks.

That’s life in today’s world: information overload with a chance of being eaten alive.

Most days, if I can come in with just a handful of great waves and a few moments of peace, I’m happy. I don’t know if that’s progress, but peace is not an easy thing to find these days.

At what point does the grown man in question stop what he’s doing and ask: is protecting your surf spot from fame worth slapping a child?

The existence of the Internet makes this situation a zero-sum game for this character. The only thing keeping him going, taking swipes at his fellow surfers, is blind faith in a system that only applies to locals who own their place in the lineup with dignity.

I recently heard someone tell me that perception is reality. That whatever we choose to believe is real for us. If someone thinks that you’re rude or selfish or stupid or lazy, it’s up to you to visit the psychic toll booth of your own soul and decide: is that true? And if it is, are you okay with that or do you want to change?

Maybe the locals at Tamarin Bay are long past that point. Maybe they’re totally fine with being labeled bat-shit crazy. Maybe they’re glad that this incident has blown up online.

Because it all washes out on the next good day when they can have a few moments of peace.

*Opinions expressed in the article are those of the author*

22 Comments

  1. dave
    24 July, 2018 at 8:25 pm · Reply

    Not cool for adults swatting lighties but I refuse to believe slaps were given out without a bit of backwards lip… By both of you.
    I’d like to see you say “all’s cool joe”next time someone rides over you kid and splits his skull wide open.
    Actually,due to the litigious society we live in, I would’ve politely done just that.
    Why bother trying to explain surf etiquette in the new millennia.
    I think you should Sue the surf schools, who mistaking omitted ‘surf etiquette’ lessons while they were counting your money on the beach with a wry grin on their faces.

  2. Jules
    25 July, 2018 at 11:45 am · Reply

    As someone in the travel industry: when someone asks about surf spots in Mauritius then what do we say??? a no- go area??? great for tourism for the area – sarcasm much!
    Yes surfers know the rules of the waves etc etc. But this bad publicity is Not Good for other business close to that wave ie: accommodation, cafe’s, clothing shops etc etc. Know friends who have Always wanted to surf there but the idea of dealing with this kind of %^&$ is not what we and our clients, pay moolah for an island holiday.
    If someone klapped my lightie, that was not even their age and fighting weight, just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, there would be more than just choice words spoken…… I have friends who live there and this is real.
    And are these people breeding more of themselves ?? what a pity.

  3. Vincent
    26 July, 2018 at 4:11 pm · Reply

    Perception is not only what he or her choose to believe but also what he or she understands, about the facts, nature and truth of the matter before you choose to judge. Especially that the easiest place to manipulate preception is social media. I am a Tamarin bay local, perceive me as you wish as I have chosen who I am by facts and experiences I lived. Mahalo

  4. Vincent
    26 July, 2018 at 4:13 pm · Reply

    Perception is not only what he or her choose to believe but also what he or she understands, about the facts, nature and truth of the matter before you choose to judge. Especially that the easiest place to manipulate preception is social media. I am a Tamarin bay local, perceive me as you wish as I have chosen who I am by facts and experiences I lived. Mahalo

    • Dave
      22 December, 2020 at 11:25 pm · Reply

      You sound like a fucxing idiot. Your experiences have made you a dickhead and the author sounds like he would fit in with you dopey fucxs no problem.

  5. Gustav
    29 August, 2018 at 7:48 am · Reply

    Vincint, punch the 13 year olds please, justify your k#nt behaviour in anyway you like by leaving manipulated perception crock of sh#t.
    Unfortunately like j bay, you going to have visitors, you live in a tourist driven country. Sure the authorities appreciate your legendary behaviour. I hope on the next incident, they rip you and your cronies through the criminal justice system, check your tamarin from the inside of a cell. What’s makes you think you have entitlement to the ocean? I have no problem respecting locals and make a concerted effort to leave waves for locals, that i call respect, but one thing for Sure, no one owns the ocean. So please justify some more why it’s correct to punch lighties in the face? One day you white short hero’s are going to f#c with the wrong guy……and as a surfer don’t think you want bad karma in the water…… do you? When find go up your ads or board stabs you in the eye don’t ask yourself why…

  6. Gustav
    29 August, 2018 at 7:56 am · Reply

    Let me clarify that last statement:
    When your fins go up your ass, board stabs you in the eye or you rip your face off on the reef, don’t cry pal. Oh please change the short colour to some more visible- white becomes cream ie doesn’t hold it’s colour so it become a difficult to identify you bunch of hero’s
    Some questions:
    Will you be wearing the captain armband? How do I get to wear a white shorts? What happens if I paddle out with white shorts and I’m not a local? Do I get punch in face?
    How long must I stay there to get white shorts? Will $10 000 get me white shorts? Is it a specific brand? Must I be ripped to be allowed to don the white shorts?

    • Dave
      22 December, 2020 at 11:27 pm · Reply

      They’ll be brown shorts when he goes up against a real man on his own.

  7. Dave
    7 December, 2018 at 7:32 pm · Reply

    this the most backward article I have ever read. A grown ass adult slaps a KID for surfing a soft top with a go pro and you say you understand his logic? if you think these precious waves give someone the right to hit anyone you need a reality check.

    • Poesklapper 3000
      5 November, 2019 at 1:03 pm · Reply

      It will be raining poes klappe!

    • Dave
      22 December, 2020 at 11:28 pm · Reply

      He sounds like an absolute dicx head.

  8. Jon Whoopass
    14 March, 2019 at 3:33 am · Reply

    My and my buddies have booked our flight to Mauritius and are planning on heading to Tamarin Bay to do some surfing on foam boards with gopros and will be opening a large can of whoopass if we find any surfers in white shorts. Be warned. Can’t wait!

  9. Gibbo
    1 May, 2019 at 10:05 am · Reply

    Jon Woopass … I’m with you. Can’t wait

  10. James John
    31 May, 2019 at 9:39 pm · Reply

    Jon & Gibbo,

    How was your trip?

    Did you get any face time with the white shorts?

  11. Oliver
    29 August, 2019 at 3:25 pm · Reply

    Its not only Mauritius where this is happening, there are a few places. I wrote a list of a few of the worst surf fights and most aggressive surf countries here: https://ollieandthecaptain.com/surf-localism/

  12. alberto
    29 October, 2019 at 12:35 am · Reply

    I asked to surfcampmauritius.com to have intermediate surf lessons, here the reply, no comment is needed:

    Unfortunately we do not teach surfing intermediate riders due to localism situation with surfing on the island. SUP lessons or SUP rental we also do not provide in November as it is high season for kitesurfing and we are more focused on this activity.

    Regards,
    Varvara

  13. BBC
    14 June, 2020 at 8:29 am · Reply

    White Colonist Scum ROFL

  14. Angry Local
    18 August, 2020 at 2:30 am · Reply

    This morning at 6:30am I was on the main peak at my local break. 3 dads paddled out with 30 teenagers with longboards, shortboards, and softtops. They clustered right on the peak and took off on every set wave 5 at a time. No joke.

  15. Jok Greenrom
    7 November, 2020 at 10:58 pm · Reply

    Jon Woopass, you made an impression. Brought the kiddos, eh?

    Angry “Local” where were you born and raised?

  16. […] Despite what some folks might think, it ain’t all livin easy vibes out in the surfing world. Sometimes you encounter terribly toxic, territorial pieces of work like this dude who went off on a poor 16-year-old homie just trying to catch some waves out in Tamarin Bay.  […]

  17. Lagane
    24 April, 2021 at 12:01 am · Reply

    His name is Vincent Collard – just helping out here. Have fun.

  18. Ethan S.
    28 January, 2024 at 6:35 pm · Reply

    Pretty easy to just take a couple real blokes down to Tamarin and beat the F$&k out of these white shorts losers. Im game, anyone else?

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