Stab Magazine | Is Surfing At Bondi Beach Facing A Ban?

Is Surfing At Bondi Beach Facing A Ban?

The council proposes a southern end confinement and the Bondi surfing contingent reacts.

Words by stab

Fancy banning surfing at the world’s best* wave! Well, that is exactly what the council which oversees Bondi Beach proposed to do earlier this week as reported by the ABC.

Waverley Council proposed earlier this week that surfers who ride fibreglass boards should be confined to the southern end of Bondi, with softboards facing a similar issue as they’re ‘not as soft as they once were’.

One of the reasons for the potential restriction was a recent ‘beach user’ survey which concluded that there were an “incredible amount of competing users,” at Bondi. In addition, 84 percent of people that use the waters off Bondi do so outside of the red and yellow flags – where surfers are. 

As expected when you try to ban surfing at such a world class, consistently pumping wave like Bondi, everyone from German straight-hand experts, wave-consuming loggers, to three-to-the-beach fanatics were up in arms. “Overkill” and “craziness” were some of the words thrown around, while some like Dion Atkinson bothered to make a coherent point, “It would be really dangerous to push every single surfboard on the whole beach down into that south corner, I think it’s really nuts,”.

Even on the most windblown shittiest of days, it’s unlikely to not see at least 30+ people scattered throughout the 900m wide lineup. And when the air and waters are warm combined with waist high runners, expect this number to bump well up into triple digits.

In addition to a stifled wave count, confining everyone from semi-capable shredheads to front-leg-leashing backpackers into the small southern corner is bound to place pressure on the lifeguards injury wise. Particularly on those larger days when everywhere except the northern end of the beach are largely unsurfable.

Yeah, just cram them all down the southern end, that’ll do it. Photo ABC/Dan Himbrechts

Bondi Board Riders president Ian Wallace was also unconvinced by reasons for the ban. “The southern end of the beach is the most dangerous end, it has the biggest waves and it has more rips. You’re going to put everyone down in that one end and then you’re going to throw your learners in there, your kids in there…it just can’t work.” he told the ABC. The North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club was also opposed to the idea of a ban.

Tamarama and Bronte Beach which sit pretty around the southern bend from Bondi are already unsurfable when the flags are up, leaving only Maroubra and Bondi as the actually ‘surfable’ beaches in Sydney during small, hot summer days. A surfing restriction at Bondi would bring what’s already an overcrowded clusterfuck in the summer even closer to resembling tinned sardines, or even worse, a Chinese wavepool. 

Is this a Bondi premonition?

Late yesterday, Waverley Mayor, John Wakefield, described the interpretation and consequential response to the survey as “overblown”, “[there’s] no policy [that] has been devised. No proposal has been received.” At this stage the council are simply conducting another survey assessing the spread of the concern over soft and hard surfboards endangering other ocean users – a survey that happens to cost several thousand dollars. 

We’re conducting a survey to find out the depth of the concern. (But) we believe we have the mix right now,” the Mayor continued.

The survey will extend over the next 28-day period to assess what the Bondi locals generally feel about the proposal, but something tell us the plethora of softboard, SUP, finless fiends, actual surfers and even the odd hydrofoil will be present enough to stop any threat of an actual ban ever occurring. 

For the love of my lunchtime surf, let’s hope that’s true. 

*In case my poor sense of sarcasm didn’t translate over the digital platform, the surf at Bondi typically fucking sucks. Although, in comparison to Los Angeles, it’s a surfer’s dream come true.


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