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Israel protest oil rig

The number of protesters was 992, according to organizers. Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen


The Inertia

According to reports, a group of Israeli protesters nearly a thousand strong paddled out at Herzliya, Israel’s version of San Francisco. They were protesting an oil rig that’s going in just down the coastline, and they claim to have broken the paddle out world record of 511 people in Huntington Beach.

Organizers said that 992 people joined hands in the protest, which is certainly more than the previous record. Guinness, however, has some strict rules when it comes to world records. “In order for us to verify your achievement,” they wrote, “we require a number of pieces of evidence. What is required will vary depending on the record category you are applying for… Insufficient evidence can lead to attempt rejections.”

The Huntington world record was unofficially beaten by a very large margin at Jack O’Neill’s paddle out when an estimated 3000 people paddled out in Santa Cruz. Of course, they weren’t attempting to break any records and didn’t jump through all the correct hoops.

According to Good Times Magazine, in the planning stages of O’Neill’s paddle out, organizers were excited about the prospect of getting a world record. When it became apparent what that would require–numbers on surfers, who the surfers were, the one minute of hand-holding–they decided that it wasn’t worth it. “At a certain point, it was like ‘Let’s forget it,’” Brian Kilpatrick, the vice president of marketing of O’Neill Wetsuits, told GT. “We’re not trying to break a record, we’re trying to honor Jack.”

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The rig the Israeli surfers were protesting is expected to be operational by the end of 2019. The protesters wore black shirts with skull and crossbones on them to go with their slogan of “Don’t Poison Us” while sitting on petroleum-based surfboards. Authorities, of course, claim the platform poses no risk to either the environment or public health.

According to Reuters, “Friday’s event would be submitted to Guinness World Records for recognition, organizers said. Guinness currently lists a 511-person circle of surfers off Huntingdon Beach, California last year as the world-record “surfing paddle-out”.

“They want to build a gas rig just 10 kilometers off Dor Beach, near Haifa, instead of above the gas field 120 kilometers into the sea, as is customary all over the world in order to protect public health and the environment,” Ronen Babayoff, one of the main surfers involved with the protest, told Surfline. “Now, 97% of all gas rigs since 2010 are floating deep water gas rigs over the gas fields, a technology which is much safer and less polluting. A condensate spill (a byproduct of gas processing) from a nearshore gas rig is uncontainable, will reach the beaches of Israel within hours, and will destroy half of them for generations.”