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No other word for this than "wrong." Photo: Grant Scholtz

This is all so wrong. Photo: Grant Scholtz


The Inertia

We’re all guilty. Everyone has hopped someone else’s wave at some point. And virtually every single time, it’s wrong – even if the snake in question failed to look or “didn’t see you.” This past weekend in South Africa was equally wrong and far more flagrant.

According to Zig Zag, a deliberate act of wave thievery occurred during the Billabong Women’s Summersurf Challenge when surfers at Long Beach in Kommetjie took waves that competitors as young as 9 years old were chasing mid-heat.

The article went on to state that “a crew of free surfers, ranging from teenagers to supposedly mature men, repeatedly ignored requests to stay out of the contest area and proceeded to drop-in and snake waves from competitors.”

To be fair, the entire break wasn’t closed off to the public, so there could’ve a bit of a gray area as to where the official contest zone started and the freesurf zone started. However, “there were reports of intimidation tactics being employed against the competitors, like water being splashed at them and verbal abuse.” Regardless of spacial issues, the intimidation at play is just wrong.

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This is another sad reminder that localism exists everywhere, and that it’s not okay. Robin de Kock, General Manager of Surfing South Africa, said in a post on his Facebook, “Our requests to the bunch in the water to give the girls space and show some respect was ignored. It made me ashamed of my gender. Not only did the mob in the line up drop in, but they also sneered at the competitors and splashed water at them. A couple of them even boasted about their behaviour towards the ‘chicks’ while getting out of their wetsuits in the car park. When I confronted them about their lack of courtesy their response was an expletive fuelled rant followed by a personal insult.”

As someone who has snaked more than a couple people over the years, I admit it’s usually best to apologize. Things can be smoothed out with a simple, “I’m sorry.” Clearly that wasn’t the route these guys chose, which injects an odd yet familiar sense of machismo into the social environment of a break. I’d imagine this isn’t the first incident of its kind, and I wish the ladies who surf there in the future the best of luck. Here’s hoping you don’t have to share the lineup with those guys.



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