Stab Magazine | Hurricane Chaser Brett Barely Breaks Down NYC Surf Fine Fiasco

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Hurricane Chaser Brett Barely Breaks Down NYC Surf Fine Fiasco

“It’s so bizarre, it makes no sense whatsoever. I’m just trying to wrap my head around it.”

news // Sep 6, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The home of urban haute surf couture, New York City, has hit another hurdle in its quest to become a credible surf community – the NYPD. The men and women in blue who first brought us Sipowitz have a new claim to fame as the most pedantic kooks on planet earth. The New York Police Department hit Rockaway beach on Sunday to slap several surfers with fines for surfing a four foot Hurricane-swell, generated by the offshore Tropical Storm Hermine. 

The New York Post reports at least four surfers were hit with tickets for refusing to get out of the water, costing them $80 each. One of them was 48 year old Kiwi, Jay Harrison. 

“We only get a couple of days a year for all the conditions to come together. It’s really disappointing,” he told the NYPost.

Gonzalo Brett Barley

Worth the risk of a run in with the law? Photo: Daniel Pullen

East Coast American Pro, Brett Barley, who’s made a career out of chasing hurricane swells was “baffled” by the ruling. “I think that’s crazy. I understand what they’re trying to do as far as what keeps the public safe, but if you spend enough time surfing it’s really not dangerous. Those kind of rules are made by people that don’t understand the ocean and think it’s dangerous,” he says.

Barley has chased hurricanes all along the east coast though never encountered any grief from police. “It’s the luck of the draw,” he says. “I’ve never had issues with it. I don’t know where it is they do it, I’ve been up there for hurricane swells and I do know it’s an issue for some of the counties up there, but I don’t know where exactly.”

“Those kind of rules are made by people that don’t understand the ocean and think it’s dangerous.”

Barley mightn’t have run afoul of authorities but his friends have. Fellow Hurricane-chasing pro, Alek Parker, drove hundreds of kilometres in pursuit of a storm only to be stopped by police within sight of brown spitting barrels at the end of a street in Maryland. He was fined $100 and told to turn his car around 

“All we’re doing is trying to navigate around them in a safe manner. I wouldn’t have gone around the roadblocks if I knew it was bad. I knew [the storm] had passed!” recalls Alek. 

Not to be deterred, Alek wrangled a National Geographic Press Pass, snuck through the police blockades and got the vision. “We all know we’ll do whatever it takes to get there and surf,” he says.

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