Stab Magazine | Jet Ski Drivers Are Being Fined For Speeding Violations During Cyclone Oma

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Jet Ski Drivers Are Being Fined For Speeding Violations During Cyclone Oma

Joel Parkinson, Jack Freestone, Mitch Crews, and more chime in! 

news // Feb 27, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It has been revealed by 18 Seconds Magazine that Gold Coast Marine Safety officers are retrospectively fining jetski drivers for their actions during Cyclone Oma.

A photo posted to 18 Seconds’ Instagram page shows an officer that was (apparently) using a mid-length camera lens to photograph and identify jet ski drivers who were breaking Gold Coast laws. 

Screen Shot 2019 02 26 at 1.54.49 PM

“How’s these guys fining all the boys on jetskis (middle finger emjoi),” reads the text on the image.

Gold Coast law stipulates that if you’re within 200 meters of someone in the water – whether that’s a swimmer or surfer – you’re required to travel at less than six knots an hour. Looking at videos from Cyclone Oma, it’s clear this law was neglected by many ski drivers, resulting in the officer’s actions.

Here’s the caption from 18 Seconds’ IG post for more context:

Unfortunately, the fines have started arriving in the mail for people using skis during the Oma swell. According to sources, they’re being fined for going over 6 knots within 60 meters of (scarce) paddlers. They have even issued fines to several lifeguards going over 6 knots near the Alley breakwall. There have been lots of cases where skis are the ones helping surfers who are in trouble during dangerous cyclone swells. In fact, we were only speaking to a guy (fit in his fifties) yesterday who wiped out over the weekend. He said it was such a heavy belting, when he surfaced he couldn’t see anything – was just seeing black. With eight-foot sets washing him around, he thought he was gone. Luckily, a ski grabbed the man and took him to the safety of the beach. Thoughts?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/o8OQS3jdFg8

For those questioning how necessary skis actually were during Oma, take a look at Burleigh the other day.

While 18 Seconds appears to lean in favor of skis, their commenters were of mixed opinions [sic all].

“Just teach the drivers to not go left and everything should be sweet,” one commenter mentioned, in reference to skis pulling out the back of waves after dropping their surfer off, rather than dropping down face and following from the front.

“The guys on skis were awesome over the weekend…. picked me up a few times and dropped me back up the point to the take off… couldn’t have paddled against the rip on some parts of the tide… legends… thanks…. these guys are clowns revenue raising for even bigger clowns…” claimed one happy paddler.

“Framing them as a safety back up when in reality they aren’t is shit going. They were WAY better behaved at Kirra on this swell than on Gita, but I still watched a couple go down. I also watched one fuckwit nearly run over the booger he was chipping into waves. The biggest concern from Oma was the amount of surfers and photographers in the water who weren’t up to it,” said another level-headed voice.

“Fuck Australia and its over policed bubble wrapped society,” said one commenter, who has clearly never visited America.

“Ahh, the days before jet skis.. did surfers actually go out when it gets over 3ft?” said one less enthused Australian.

“Jet skis should be allowed once the beaches are declared closed due to dangerous conditions I reckon. So they’re only allowed in big swell,” rationalized another.

ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 Juan Medina Burleigh

Jetskis: pest or pleasure? It’s merely a matter of perspective! Photo: Juan Medina

We have since reached out to some of the preeminent surfers in the region about the ski situation and received the following responses:

Joel Parkinson: “So good [re MSQ fining ski drivers]… They should just ban skis from going near the crowd.”

Mitch Crews: “Yeah I heard that! I’d imagine there will be a lot [of tickets sent]. I really hope we don’t get one, we probably did though [laughs].”

Jack Freestone (AKA Oma’s MVP):Yeah I heard. I haven’t received a fine yet and don’t know anyone that has. I would understand if you got a fine from driving recklessly but everyone was pretty respectful. I actually saved three surfers who were stuck about 300 meters out to sea and they could have easily gone missing. So I would be pretty upset to receive a fine. Because I felt the whole swell we were very respectful.”

Mitch Parkinson (who did not tow): “No way! That’s too funny… I saw them taking photos of everyone but I never thought they’d fine people. I think it needs to happen though – the level of some of the people out there is so below par it’s not funny. It’s really dangerous. Someone will end up getting killed. There were people towing in then crossing over the guy who they towed in! It was fucken funny to watch. Everyone thinks they can watch Joel and Mick doing it and just go do the same, but the reality is they’ve been perfecting stepping-off around people for more than 10 years. Those guys are safe, but the other guys are gonna ruin it for everyone.”

Jarrod White: “Yes, I heard the fines are coming! Look, that’s a tough one for sure. I saw some driving skills out there that shouldn’t even be licensed to drive a rubber ducky in a bathtub, and those guys are ruining it for everyone. The good drivers don’t deserve any fines at all though, nor do they deserve to have it banned or gain a bad reputation from it.

“I’m sure all the local businesses will vouch for the jetskis too, as they provided a major boost to the local economy over these few days with all the spectators they brought in. I also know a guy who dropped a surfer to the beach with a broken foot who was drifting out to sea, so it wouldn’t make sense if he got a fine after helping an injured person out. There’s a few ways to look at it and there’s definitely solutions to make it better.

“And personally I didn’t see any jet skis put anyone one in danger – the inexperienced driving I saw was down the beach away from people surfing, which was good to see.”

At least three skis were lost during the swell. 

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