The Inertia Contributing Writer
WiLDCOAST Director Serge Dedina enjoys a session at Tijuana Sloughs. And he does it legally. Photo:

WiLDCOAST Director Serge Dedina enjoys a session at Tijuana Sloughs. And he does it legally. Photo: Israel Dedina

The Inertia

Unlike skateboarders, surfers rarely get pinched by security guards or cops. With the exception of paddling out naked or at night (which are both generally unlawful, you nocturnal nude weirdo!) surfers enjoy lots of freedom. But not always. In fact, some spots weren’t public until surfers who came before us defied authorities for our benefit. So, next time you paddle out at your local, think of the waves that could land you in jail and give thanks to your predecessors who made that session possible.

1. Martins Beach, California

Though legal bullshit continues in this matter, it appears surfing at Martins Beach is probably lawful again. But for half a dozen years, Silicon Valley asshat Vinod Khosla locked down this spot near California’s Half Moon Bay, which lies near his $32 million plot of land. Khosla sicced police on surfers, and used his fortune to subject us to years of legal battles. FYI Khosla, the California Constitution guarantees access to the entire coast and common decency mandates not being a fuckwit. In the immortal words of Jeff Spicoli: “You dick!


Yes, Massachusetts, on occasion, gets waves. Photo: Dan LeMaitre

Yes, Massachusetts, on occasion, gets waves. Photo: Dan LeMaitre

2. Massachusetts During Hurricane Irene, 2011

Hats off to Massachusetts surfer Daniel Jacques who gave zero fucks about a surfing ban imposed during Tropical Storm Irene. To wit: “The young man ran along the beach, and then ran across Hull Shore Drive in attempt to evade the troopers. He nearly caused several motor vehicle crashes as cars had to take evasive action to avoid hitting him.” Praying hands emoji here.

3. Chicago, Illinois

Until just a few years ago, paddling a surfboard out in the icy waters of Lake Michigan around Chicago (windswell, anyone?) was a crime. Actually, not just surfboards, but all floating devices. Surfer Rex Flodstrom learned this the hardway after a lake sesh when cops impounded his board and hauled him off in his wetsuit. Today it’s legal in a few select spots.

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Surprisingly, surfing isn’t off limits in this strict United Arab Emirates metropolis where public kissing is criminal and alcohol consumption is severely restricted. But that doesn’t always matter to police, who issued fines to surfers for endangering swimmers despite an absence of rules. Think you can skate free without forking over the cash? Maybe, but you won’t get back your confiscated driver’s license.

5. Newport Cliff Walk, Rhode Island

Until Sid Abruzzi lingered longer than usual, surfers would only receive a scolding for brief surfs at this off-limits spot. But in 1971, Abruzzi enjoyed a lengthy sesh, stoking the ire of local police, leading to his arrest and a $10 fine. But he appealed the charge and defeated the surfing ban, opening the lineup for posterity.

6. Tijuana Sloughs

Surfing isn’t explictly illegal at this near-forgotten, semi-big wave spot on the California-Mexico border. But seeing as it’s located just off the border wall and access is much easier from the Mexico side, it might as well be. Technically, authorities could pop you for making an illegal border hop if you paddle out and cross it. On the U.S. side, the National Wildlife Refuge makes it difficult to get from Imperial Beach to the break, North America’s premier heavy-water wave before the discoveries of Todos Santos and Mavericks. On a positive note, the surf site is now protected as the Tijuana Rivermouth State Marine Conservation Area. But if U.S. Customs Border Protection doesn’t get you, the noxious pollution following rains – or quadruple overhead waves – might.


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