Stab Magazine | Why The Lunada Bay Boys Could Never Exist In Australia

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Why The Lunada Bay Boys Could Never Exist In Australia

Nothing screams broken system like trust-fund babies holding down a world-class surf spot. 

news // Aug 31, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

As an outsider from Australia the never-ending Lunada Bay saga has been nothing short of fascinating, if only for the simple reason; it could never happen here. We have localism, for sure, and it ranges from virulent to violent, right down to your plain old peddler of perpetual bad vibes. We also have people born into obscene wealth, especially where I’m from, and where this magazine is based, in Sydney. But the idea of a community of millionaires and billionaires controlling a quality wave is so impossibly un-Australian it’s laughable. 

It’s easy enough to see how the Lunada Bay Boys get it done. In a highly litigious society such as America, if you have an inexhaustible amount of funds, as these guys do, you can dominate the court system and wage war on anyone who wants to object. And the cops and authorities will side with you because, in America, the authorities and politicians wanna keep rich people happy, which also means keeping rich people rich. It’s rigged and America sets the standard for this kind of broken system. 

What also helps is when your rocky little bay has one track in and one track out. Whoever makes it down that track is inevitably going to be confronted and outnumbered by the ever-present trust fund locals who occupy the place, because they don’t have to work. If something does go down, your account of what happened is always going to be outnumbered by several contradictory witness reports, which are then given life by an inexhaustible legal fund. The system is stacked against you and the Lunada Bay boys have turned manipulating it into a fine art. You can’t win. 

Ultimately, the Lunada Bay situation is a result of generations of entrenched wealth inequality in the United States. A situation that has allowed certain sections of the country to get so obscenely rich and powerful that the world  – i.e politics, media, law enforcement – bends to their will. Lunada Bay is a surfing microcosm of America’s toxic and now widely understood to be broken steroid-capitalist model. A model which not only rewards those who were born into obscene wealth, power and influence but encourages others to strive for it and suck up to it. 

Australia does not work like this. While it might be increasingly headed in this direction it still has a long way to go and it will be surfing, ironically, that will be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. 

Several of the nation’s highest profile ambassadors and athletes are surfers. And nothing epitomises Australia’s egalitarian, socialist values more. Surfing in this country belongs to everyone. A scan of the greatest watermen this country has ever produced proves it. Mick Fanning spent the first 12 years of his life in Penrith, one of the most socially and economically disadvantaged areas in the country, before moving to Coolangatta, another traditionally low-income area, where he was raised by a working-class single mother. Mark Richards is the son of a used car salesman from the steel-works city of Newcastle. Koby Abberton survived the most damaging of family scenarios to grow up in housing commission flats opposite Maroubra Beach. Dean Morrison, Mick Fanning’s best mate, also hails from a tough, borderline impoverished upbringing that saw him taken in by Rabbit Bartholomew in his early teenage years. Visit any boardriders club in the country and you’ll find an even spread of working-class tradesman, landscapers, firemen and bricklayers, alongside downtrodden welfare dependents, and real estate, property and business tycoons. If word of a rich-man-only surf spot broke here you’d have welt-knuckled brutes descending on the place just to prove a point. There’s a word for it here. It’s called tall poppy syndrome and it’s in our convict blood. 

You earn the right to dominate a surf break in Australia by either surfing well or putting your time in at a spot. Not because grandaddy is an oil tycoon who built a mansion on the point 100 years ago. That only gets you a lifetime’s worth of guilt and first rounds at the pub.


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