[ update ] 11:59am
You shouldn’t believe everything you read on 1 April. Still, we hope that our report at least earned a few chuckles (and a few signatures on the official petition that was subsequently started.)
The great thing about surfing is that, for the time being at least, it is open to everybody. No course fees – unless you’re looking to surf at an exclusive resort – and no age limits. Long may it remain this way.
In the meantime, we’ll all just try to get along as best we can as our lineups get more members.
[ Original post ]
In a move that has shocked surfers, the eThekwini Municipality are set to impose surfing restrictions to combat crowded, dangerous lineups. From July this year, surfers wishing to ride at the popular North Beach and New Pier in Durban during the busiest hours will be required to pass a surf proficiency exam before earning their spot in the lineup. This news comes after a spate of surfing-related injuries forced the hand of the authorities to bring order to the lineup.
According to City Beachfront Manager, Fistaz Mphendulu, “Too many surfers and other ocean users are being injured due to overcrowding at the piers, especially in the mornings. It would be remiss for the City to not get involved. We have spent a lot of money to bring order back to the Durban beachfront and that includes in the water as well.”
Durban surfer Mark Bester’s ankle after an altercation with another surfer at North Beach.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in surfer-on-surfer injuries” remarked long-time Durban lifeguard and surfer, Rocky Randall. “It appears that most of these occur because of an increase in the number of beginner surfers, and unfortunately many of them don’t know or follow the unwritten rules of surfing, as well as being unable to duckdive their boards or swiftly get out of the way.”
Business will continue as per normal on most days, but when the restriction gets enforced will be up to the lifeguards on duty. Should they feel that the lineup appears to be getting out of control, they will announce the change in situation over the PA system and any surfers entering the water will be asked to present their Surf Proficiency (SP) card before paddling out.
“I think it is great!” said die-hard New Pier local, Hilton Lawrence. “It’s a bit unfair because the ocean is meant to be open to everybody, but things really have been getting out of control out there. I’ve had a few close calls, but hopefully that won’t be the case going forward.”
No card, no surf.
Applying for a SP card will be relatively trouble free. Forms will be available at the Durban Surf Lifesaving Club (DSLC) at North Beach, and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, as well as Saturday mornings, the DSLC will test a group of surfers to assess whether they have the skills necessary to navigate a crowded lineup and avoid injuring others.
The test will include an oral exam as well as a few basic practical tests; like duckdiving, paddling out without using the rip or jumping off the pier, and of course – controlling your board during a typical ride. Nobody, no matter how experienced, will be exempt from the test and surfers will not be allowed to enter the water if they cannot produce their waterproof SP card.
These restrictions will be enforced at North Beach and New Pier only, which leaves the rest of the Golden Mile for surfers to practice their wave riding skills. It’s reported that the system will be rolled out at other popular surfing beaches around the country after a six month trial period.
Testing will begin in May. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear exactly when you’ll be able to go in and apply. The cards will cost R350 per annum for the renewable license, or R800 for a three year proficiency card, excluding VAT.