6 March, 2012 6 March, 2012

ELANDS SIGN A HOAX, but growing tensions very real

Cutting it fine: a windsurfer skirts a surfer at Elands.

Not a real sign, but a real sign of growing tension

The sign banning windsurfing, kiteboarding and SUP riding at Elands Bay is a hoax, according to municipal authorities.

Zigzag broke the story last week that the sign had been erected at the bottom of E-Bay’s famous left point, and was investigating further to verify its authenticity. There were subsequent reports of police chasing away windsurfers attempting to enter the lineup.

While it appeared legitimate, the sign was an elaborate hoax, as Piet Streicher confirmed on the Zigzag Facebook page after taking the issue up with the municipality. “There is no such Act as the National Parks, Beaches and Recreations Act, and also no Act 246 of 2008. The safety issue is a valid concern though” wrote Streicher, who is also a dedicated surfer and sailboarder. “Sailors would be happy with 1hr on windy days which is less than 1% of the surfable time at Elands.

It’s unclear at this point who erected the sign, but the hoax points to a bigger dilemma facing the entire surfing community: namely, the growing friction between surfers, SUP riders and sailboarders.

Some SUP riders and sailboarders believe surfers try lay claim to the entire lineup with a holier-than-though attitude. Many surfers claim SUP riders and sailboarders do not adhere to the unwritten code of conduct on how a lineup works and hog waves. Finger pointing aside, one legitimate concern is the issue of safety. Windsurfers and SUP’s (especially those commandeered by unskilled riders) pose a far more serious threat to other ocean users in the event of a collision. It’s reported that this has happened frequently not only in Elands, but lineups across the country, and precipitated the hoax sign.

“I think (the idea of) banning the sport at the Point is an overreaction and a compromise should be negotiated,” said resident surfer and windsurfer, Paul Jones. “Elands is an internationally recognised and desired windsurf and kite surf location, but it does need some control.”

The sign has been taken down, but it remains to be seen how that control can or will be implemented.

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