Dramatic measures considered in wake of vulnerable adult learner onslaught.
Panic is sweeping across Australia’s Gold Coast like a well-aimed tropical depression.
But it’s not COVID19 or the oncoming thrust of libidinous pro surfers and their entourages that has the locals shaking in their Crocs.
Instead, surfers on leashless ‘logs’ – many of whom could be correctly identified as VALs – are losing control of their craft and causing collisions along the already crowded golden strip.
That distinct thwack of fibreglass on flesh on bone, simultaneously dull yet sharp, rings out from Burleigh to D-Bah.
Fingers are poked into holes where cheeks should have been.
Exposed pink flesh grades white, then grey, then crimson red.
Victims shrieks as the horror of the injury sets in, while dreadlocked interlopers retrieve their bloodied craft and can only off a “Sorry bro, I totally didn’t see you there” in return.
It’s the soundtrack to the VAL-pocalypse.
And it’s reaching pandemic proportions there in south-east Queensland.
One lil girl has already ended up in hospital
Many more near misses that haven’t required pro medical care.
The community ain’t thrilled.
Local media are taking notice, again.
The classic tabloid tableau.
A lack of respect and a flagrant disregard of surfing etiquette is causing havoc at popular Gold Coast surfing breaks – with a mother smashed by a rogue longboard at Snapper Rocks over the weekend. Later that day, a young girl hit in the face by a longboarder was rushed to hospital with stitches to her face, a broken nose and possible bruising on the brain. According to Terranora local Leesa Laug, surfing accidents involving “inexperienced” people on longboards, VAL, are becoming commonplace and she fears for the safety of her children in the ocean.
Another local, also quoted, calls for a ski-style ranking for surf access. Lesser talented surfers denied admission to the premier breaks, forced instead to ply their trade on the green trail peaks of a yet-to-be built local wavepool.
There needs to be respect for the unspoken rules of surfing, the article continues.
Basic safety measures. Legropes made mandatory. Crowd control etc etc.
I’ve spoken before about the death of the Pass as a surf spot.
Are Snapper and its nearby points that far behind?
Would you surf it on a four-foot south-east swell with light offshores puffing the endless caverns open for just you and your closest 3000 pals to enjoy?
Maybe, if you could get The One.
Could a caste system for surfing, like the one being proposed at the Bristol wave pool, work for the Gold Coast? How would it operate? Would it even make a dint in the crowd at the Superbank, anyway?
And more fundamentally, do we need this Draconian level of state control?
Is the surfing world crying out for the firm hand of a benevolent dictator to bring order to its chaotic lineups?
As climate change-fuelled cyclone swells continue to unfurl down the east coast honey pot of points, and state and federal tourism boards in concert with the WSL do their best to send more surf-tourists there during peak competition times, things will only get worse.
The question will not go away.
Is there a vaccine out there to keep the VAL-pocalypse on a leash?
Does anybody have the cure?
I’ll leave the last words to mumma Laug:
“Back in the day if you were a learner you’d never go to a popular break until you were at a certain level, now everyone wants to be seen there and to project that cool image. Everyone needs to wait their turn in line and if you muck it up well back to the end of the line for you, these days there’s no such thing as getting in line. There’s no respect, it’s gone out of the window.”