Stab Magazine | Police patrols target surf spots
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Police patrols target surf spots

Beach scuffles caused by drop-ins are nothing new. Since unwritten laws about wave rights came to be, men have been battling on the sand (and sometimes in the soup) to defend their honour. Of late, this kind of activity seems to have become more prevalent on the Gold Coast – enough so that police are […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Beach scuffles caused by drop-ins are nothing new. Since unwritten laws about wave rights came to be, men have been battling on the sand (and sometimes in the soup) to defend their honour. Of late, this kind of activity seems to have become more prevalent on the Gold Coast – enough so that police are spooked. The most public (and high-profile) example in recent vintage was Jeremy Flores and Sunny Garcia throwing down with a man named Adam Clarke in the Burleigh shorebreak. Then, around a month ago, a clip popped up on Vimeo that showed a bodyboarder and a surfer punching on at D’Bah (see above, starting at 1:30). The title of the clip, ‘Just another day at D-Bah’, is perhaps telling of local opinion. Maybe. And, at the core of the problem? Experienced surfers competing for waves with learners or visitors who might not be aware of surf conduct and curtesy.

So, how are police responding to a problem that’s been around forever but has only recently scooped any attention? Early-morning patrols around Snapper and D-Bah, as well as mounted patrols between Rainbow and Kirra. According to Goldcoast.com, Coolangatta Police Senior Sergeant Mark Johnston said his officers are patrolling the surf spots to show a presence and prevent problems.

1999 world champ Mark Occhilupo lives and surfs, daily, on the Gold Coast. Stab wanted to know how a local felt about the police’s plans. When we called Occ, he was about to pull up and wait in the car while his son skated a rail out front of a shop, “until the lady comes out and kicks him off.”

Stab: Any fights during your morning surf today?
Occy: Nah, but the other day I accidentally dropped in on this old bloke. He was going that slow, I looped him twice. Then he got bummed and I just said, “Mate, don’t take it personally”. I was laughing, but he wasn’t happy. At Snapper, that kind of thing happens pretty much every wave. You’ve definitely gotta be in the right mood. If you get frustrated, you’ll have a bad surf. But if you know you’re gonna get dropped in on and might have to drop in, then you can kinda make fun of it. Most people have that attitude, they know not to expect a bunch of waves to themselves and they’re probably fine out in the water. But once you get frustrated, you should probably leave the water before you do get in an altercation.

Police feeling the need to make their presence known suggests a higher prevalence of aggression on the GC. Is there validity to that? I’m surprised there isn’t more fights than there is, when you see what goes down… The early morning surf is mellow, but the second surf is crowded and you have to be ready for it. If all the locals are out, it’s usually more mellow ’cause it’s kinda organised chaos. But really, you just never know what you’re going to get. You might get out there and some guy might just run you straight over, and you get bummed and you’ve kinda gotta say something, y’know?

Has that happened to the Occ? The other day, this guys was taking off and I was paddling out of his way. I could’ve put my legs up but he had plenty of room, so I didn’t, thinking he’d go around them. And he didn’t, he just went straight over my foot and nearly sliced it open. I caught the next wave and went looking for him. I found him and was just like, “Faaaark…” and he’s like, “Oh, sorry.” But he hand’t sliced me open so I didn’t get aggro with him. If he did slice me I think I would’ve. I mighta punched him or something, which I always hate doing… But if someone cuts you and they could’ve avoided it, that’s kinda reason to get aggro.

So, are police patrols excessive? I think so. People have been fighting in the surf for a long time. Maybe the lifeguard could take a part in that, too. Police on the beach? Maybe, yeah. But I think it’s over-dramatising it, really. – Elliot Struck

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