Byron, baby. Video: RVCA
Are Byron's Leash-Chasing Lawyers Justified In Their Demonizing Of Wayward Crafts?
A debate over the legal and societal ramifications for losing control of your surfboard.
Recently, a Byron-based law firm has made headlines for an ad in which it offers legal counsel in leashless-related surf injuries.
If we were to present their ad in a “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” limerick fashion, it would read:
If you had such unfortunate luck,
that by a leashless log you were struck,
simply call up your friends
at Kook, Barney & Benz,
and surely they’ll make you a….
As we know, Byron Bay is infamous for its hipsters, and hipsters are infamous for their old, heavy boards without leash plugs. As a result, there’s been a litany of issues with Byron surfers losing boards into the crowd – a crowd that often includes children – and causing personal or property-related damages.
Parent-surfers like Ozzie Wright have been vocal in their opposition of Byron’s leashless culture, claiming it’s an unnecessary hazard, especially for the little ones. However some see leashlessness as a freedom of expression, and that being forced to wear a kook cord would be a matter of fascism.
Below, two Stab writers debate the Byron situation for your amusement.
The level-headed Michael Ciaramella starts.
The Somerville Laundry Lomax Solicitors ad, which you can read above, reeks of ambulance-chasing lawyers attempting to exploit surfers for their own financial gain. I despise this type of behavior and believe it to be extremely detrimental to our wider society (see: the current state of America).
However, I can’t argue with the implication that those who surf leashless should be held responsible for any damages caused by their wayward craft.
The precedent here is ubiquitous: if your actions directly or indirectly lead to damages against another person OR their property, you’re responsible. And yes, that includes damages caused by your self-driven sea vehicle.
Did your clumsy fall result in a hole in my board? Pay me, bitch.
Did your 20-pound noserider rearrange my hypothetical child’s face? First I’m gonna pound you, then you’re gonna pay for her plastic surgery. Bitch.
Did I borrow your shoreline-bound craft and run it up the point for a wave of my own? Your problem!
How somebody could morally absolve himself of that basic human law is beyond me, but something tells me we’re about to hear from the other side of this “argument”.
“Heavens to Betsy, won't anyone think of the children!?!?”
Truly a classic argument, one that bad faith fear-monger hucksters have used to push agendas for ages. Our children are in danger! We better make skateboards/hip hop/video games/Harry Potter/homosexuality illegal!
Fuck your children. I didn't pay a man to solder shut my vas deferens so I could spend the rest of my life tip-toeing around the sanctity of your rotten little crotch fruit. It's your job to keep them safe, not mine. Keep them off the internet, force them to wear a helmet everywhere they go. Build a dog kennel in your basement, lock the little fuckers in, then throw away the key. I don't care what you do, so long as it doesn't affect me in the slightest.
And, really, if you actually cared about the little shits you wouldn't let them surf at all.
Because surfing is a very dangerous hobby. Accidents happen all the time. People get injured, some even die. The onus is on each individual to ensure that they avoid danger. Build some situational awareness, become a better paddler, figure out to how duckdive a longboard that's trickling toward shore at a snail's pace.
But don't blame others. Every collision in the water involves two guilty parties. The idiot who couldn't stay out of the way, and the kook who couldn't avoid them. If a wayward board offends your sensibilities you're free to give it a nudge shoreward and make the offending party swim a little longer. But if it whacks you in the head it's your own damn fault. Keep your head up, pay attention, and stop blaming others for your own kookery.
You said, “The onus is on each individual to ensure that they avoid danger.”
While that may be true in many situations, it cannot be used as a blanket statement.
Think about car crashes (you should’ve known he was gonna swerve into you like that!), sexual assault (well, your skirt was pretty short..), or if we’re talking strictly about surfing, see below.
I’d be shocked if you could find some fault in Koa Rothman’s above approach. There he is in the tube, on a massive board, exit lined up perfectly, only to cop an elephant spear to the cone, resulting in broken teeth and a sprained neck.
Due to the angle of the wave and how deep he was in the tube, Koa never could have seen that thing coming. And you’re saying that’s his fault?
While it wasn’t leashlessness that caused this particular incident, the bigger issue is with taking responsibility for one’s actions, which includes ensuring your surfboard doesn’t unnecessarily endanger another person.
Perhaps Koa said it best:
“I just think this could be a good lesson for people to really reconsider paddling out to a wave they do not feel comfortable at. You're not only endangering yourself, but everyone around you.”
And in the case where such an error is made, culpability must be placed on the shoulders (and checking account) of the board-loser. Otherwise, what would motivate them to change their ways?
Those are some real pretty straw men, Mike. All gussied up and grand, stick ‘em a cornfield and they’d chase away the crows.
But there’s a problem with logical fallacies. They’re a real slippery slope.
Let’s say you’re right. Surfing has become too dangerous. It’s time to hold each other to account for any injuries or property damage that may occur during a crowded session. Let's make leashes mandatory. Safety first!
But why stop there? Let's ban comp leashes too. They're prone to breakage and god forbid you lose your board while humble-bragging through one of your amazing reviews. There are innocent civilians on the inside! Mandatory 5/16” leg ropes, at all times, for everyone!
While we're at it, let's ban all maneuvers when within twenty feet of another person. You might fall, the wave might drag you along, and your board might hit them! The risks are too great to ignore.
And I'd be remiss to forget all those pointy noses and sharp glass fins. Runaway boards wouldn't even be an issue if everyone rode foamies with soft rubber skegs. For the love of god and cowards everywhere, we must put an end to fiberglass death machines.
If everyone agreed to ride Wavestorms, use big wave leashes, and never do a turn, we could finally create a perfectly safe ocean environment.
Or we could admit your position is stupid, that surfing is too dangerous to run around assigning blame, and that this entire situation is nothing more than a bunch of morons falling for a law firm's fear-mongering publicity stunt.