With each passing day, the world continues to look entirely different than it did only two weeks ago. Beaches are closing, surfers are being chased off the sand, arrested, or even shot at, it would seem. In this unthinkable scene from Costa Rica, a surfer interacts with a law enforcement officer attempting to clear beaches during the COVID-19 crisis. The officer then appears to discharge a firearm in the direction of the surfer as he sprints up the beach – who many around the Instagram world are presuming is Simon Rex, filming for a part in Snapt4 (see above).
The video of course has been carried by multiple industry Instagram pages and we didn’t independently confirm it. But, in a post in which he tagged The Inertia, Simon commented on the incident: “Dodged a bullet in Costa filming @snapt4 – waves were firing but so were the cops so I split. Shits wild…. ” We’re still trying to confirm if that was actually Simon Rex or who the actual surfer was. Not to state the obvious but at first glance it seems like an incredibly over-the-top reaction by the police officer, even in these unprecedented times. A prominent Costa Rican pro was also reportedly detained by authorities this week.
With beach closures announced worldwide and most government officials urging citizens to quarantine in some form, the act of riding waves has suddenly become a cultural touchpoint. In a thoughtful opinion piece written by The Inertia’s Juan Hernandez, he urged surfers to stay out of the water to avoid the possibility of spreading the virus: “Lineups and beaches up and down the state were packed last weekend, and a gander at your favorite forecasting site’s cameras showed enough surfers disregarded what was requested of them, huddling together at popular waves, effectively ruining it for the rest of us.”
In a comment written on The Inertia’s Instagram page in response, that has now been passed across industry outlets and other IG pages, Kelly Slater defended the practice: I’ve seen videos this week of people being arrested who were surfing alone near no other people while people physically grab them out of the water or off the beach. Just seems like a lame power trip. Some of those same videos show numerous people cruising around each other on dry land on the sidewalks, notably in Bondi. If you don’t see the ridiculousness and irony in that there’s something wrong. Malls have been open in countries surfing has been deemed illegal. Somebody, instead of attacking the person, please give a rational explanation of why people can’t surf if they keep their distance. I’m open to it if there is a good argument.
Safe to say opinions on this matter will continue to be extremely wide ranging – on the one hand, if a surfer lives within walking distance of the sand in a lonely Oregon beach town, is paddling out at her empty local a danger to the public? On the other side, if she were to get hurt would she clog up hospitals busy treating the spread of the Novel Coronavirus? Or does rationalizing the act of surfing perhaps encourage people to travel to the coast, unwittingly spreading the disease as they move across the country?
There is no easy answer. But we can certainly all agree that using firearms in the name of quarantine will never be a good idea.