This novel Coronavirus pandemic has more twists, more turns, than a Guy Ritchie film. Each day brings some wild, unforeseen drama. Martial law put in place across the United States of America, no human being allowed within six-feet of another human being. Scientists and doctors sharpening their swords, swinging wildly at each other.
This last bit is particularly intriguing seeing as the two are usually complimentary and genteel but no longer. Not now when China’s Great Middle Finger is causing much consternation.
It began two days ago, when Kim Prather, then described as a “virus scientists” declared that surfers bashing the lip, causing spray also sent the Coronavirus far and wide.
Yesterday, Hawaii’s health director, Dr. Bruce Anderson took violent umbrage and declared, “I disagree with that.”
Unbowed, unbent Ms. Prather is back today, this time with a different title and putting her money where her mouth is and let us read directly.
Kim Prather, a leading atmospheric chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, wants to yell out her window at every surfer, runner, and biker she spots along the San Diego coast.
“I wouldn’t go in the water if you paid me $1 million right now,” she said.
Prather fears that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could enter coastal waters in similar ways and transfer back into the air along the coast.
In her research, Prather has found that the ocean churns up all kinds of particulate and microscopic pathogens, and every time the ocean sneezes with a big wave or two, it sprays these particles into the air. She believes that this new coronavirus is light enough to float through the air much farther than we think. The six-feet physical distancing rule, she said, doesn’t apply at the beach, where coastal winds can get quite strong and send viral particles soaring.
“It’s not going to kill you if you miss a few surfing sessions, but it could if you go out there and get in the wrong air,” she said.
“You can’t see the virus, you can’t smell it … It’s a real silent killer right now.”
And there we have it. Gauntlet laid etc. But a few questions, have you been yelled at by Ms. Prather?
Also, if we crowd funded $1,000,000 and gave it to her if she went for a quick surf do you think she would take or turn down?
Lastly, how will Hawaiian doctors respond?
More as the story develops.
Interview: Graphic Design icon David Carson on epic solo sesh during Tortola’s 24/7 lockdown, “It’s one thing being the only one out, I get that every season, but it’s a whole different feeling knowing no-one’s even coming out!”
I asked, who among us could ignore the siren call of empty four-footers spinning down a down a tropical point like a mirage, its endless beckoning enough to drive any man mad.
Carson, who is sixty-four years old and whose surfer bona fides are proved by the fact he was once invited to the prestigious Smirnoff Pro Am in Hawaii, felt as restless as a ship pulling against its mooring.
I asked him, today, about the experience.
How good was CGB in the grand scheme of things?
“Best day of the year,” said Carson. “It can get bigger, but rarely as clean. I’ve been here twenty-three winters now and I’d rate this as one of my top two go-outs. It’s one thing being the only one out, I get that every season, but it’s a whole different feeling knowing no-one’s even coming out.”
Carson said he was surprised no one else had a swing at what was always going to be a one-day swell.
“I saw it coming on the charts, right after they had announced the island’s lockdown. The night before I read online that they had just announced a five-thousand dollar fine and possible twelve-month jail sentence for ‘anyone who violates the curfew’. Ugh.”
Carson, whose own property extends, theoretically I suppose, fifteen yards into the water, knew it was firing from the moment he woke up.
“There were long lulls between sets so if you quickly had a look, you might’ve thought it was flat.”
Thing was, Carson could hear it.
He took a morning coffee, watched a few sets, then figured his strategy.
“Get one wave, then get back in before the cops come. I wanted to know I had at least ridden one wave during what truly was ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ but then I decided after the first wave, ok, maybe three and then I’ll go in. Two hours later, I was still out there.”
Figuring he’d save a little energy for the late sesh, the joint aways pulses right before dark he says, Carson came in and sat beneath the same tree he always sits under after a sesh.
“Just to relax, do some breathing exercises and reflect on what just happened. Then I saw ’em.”
“Two police officers walking up the rock on the point to where I was sitting. Oops. Well, I had kinda been expecting them all morning and I was surprised it took them over two hours to show up.”
Carson said, “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” replied the cops, who then asked Carson for his ID.
“I was still dripping wet and I told him I didn’t have it on me. Kinda without warning, he grabbed my surfboard which I was holding on my knees as I sat, they took my name and they were gone. He told me to get it at the local police statin when this is all over.”
When was the last time Carson surfed it solo like this?
“Well, living right here, the property goes right to the water, I often see the first rideable set come down the point. So it’s not that unusual. I’ve had solo sessions a half-dozen times just in the past couple months, but not like this.”
How did he feel about the episode with the cops?
“Overall, the cops were pretty decent about the whole thing,” says Carson. “I understand they were just doing their job in unprecedented circumstances. I think we both showed mutual respect, which goes a long way in disputes. We’re still in lockdown here so I haven’t heard much about what people think, though no doubt some of the other surfers were kinda jealous or pissed. I would be. There was a news conference where they talked about how many people had been arrested since the curfew started and someone asked, ‘What about that guy who went swimming?’ That’d be me.”
I ask Carson for his response to people who snitch and the narcs who say nobody should surf.
“I walked down my own property that actually extends fifteen-yards into the sea and jumped of the rocks. It’s two acres. The gate was locked and I never left my property. There wasn’t another person in site so no one was in any danger… the new two-week lockdown here specifies that you are allowed anywhere on your own property. The police couldn’t see me around the point from their offices and I suspect never would have seen me…”
“But,” says Carson, “there’s an old guy here who used to surf, who lives up the hill. The police told me he and his wife called to complain that I was surfing. As my gardener was opening the gate for the cops to leave, one cop said, ‘Look, she (the wife) is up there filming us now.”
High stakes game of cat-and-mouse: Malibu Season opens to first empty lineup in one hundred years; SUP pilot arrested after high-speed chase for breaching “gestapo” lock-down laws!
On April 2, 2020, Lost Hills Sheriff’s station deputies were flagged down by lifeguards regarding a male adult in the water, disobeying lifeguard orders to exit the water.
The suspect remained in the water paddle boarding for approximately 30-40 minutes. LASD boat was brought in from Marina Del Rey Station, once the Sheriff’s boat arrived on scene, the suspect complied and swam to shore.
The suspect was arrested for Disobeying a Lifeguard 17.12.115 LACC and Violation of Government Code 8665. The suspect was transported to Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station where he was booked and released on a promise to appear.
(Footage and other photo courtesy of noted BeachGrit commenter Hippy.)
Question: Will the Coronavirus Apocalypse lead to a glorious VAL boom where surf instructors and soft-top manufacturers grow ludicrously rich?
It is difficult to remember now, but there was once a time when surf brands made money and had money. Millions. Billions. Capitalizing on an 80s – 90s lust for day-glo’d, tan, Michael J. Fox-adjacent vision of rad.
Quiksilver, Billabong, Hot Tuna, Rip Curl, et. al. sold the dream in, retrospectively, win-win fashion. “Poseurs” in the “val” wore the clothes, talked the talk, and supported the likes of Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds and surfboards to you and me with razor thin margins.
The wheels fell off, of course, when that valley poseur transitioned to parkour then non-binary sexuality all while wearing Forever 21 but the brands continued to limp along until this Coronavirus Apocalypse and now real, real trouble looms.
Well, as your enlightened friend says, “this too shall pass” and it shall but what does “surfing” look like on the other side?
Will Volcom hire back its workers tout suite? Will shoppers flock back to Rip Curl stores?
But certainly many, millions, billions, will flock back to the beach, grab an instructor who grabs a soft-top because surfing is relatively free, everyone is laid-off and “honey, let’s scrap this year’s cruise and go learn surfing in Santa Cruz.”
Out-of-work Rip Curl store employees fall back on teaching surfing.
Out-of-work Quiksilver store employees fall back on teaching surfing.
Lifeguards, supplementing income and witnessing the invading hordes, fall back on teaching surfing.
Ashton Goggans, now fighting fit because he can’t afford food, Sam McIntosh and other furloughed Stab employees fall back on teaching surfing.
No longer poseurs in the val but VALs not poseuing. VALs in the lineup.*
Don’t worry, we’ll always have sharks, but tell me I’m wrong.
Tell me the end of this current, novel apocalypse doesn’t lead to one far more insidious.
But also, what will these now ludicrously rich surf instructors and soft-top manufacturers do with their money?
More as the story develops.
*Pleasure Point etc. but how long before they accidentally drift out to The Lane?
Blood Feud: Doctors clash violently over new theory that surfers are “Coronavirus Super Spreaders!”
In an earth-shaking revelation, it was reported yesterday, here, that surfers, generally misanthropic and lonely, may in fact be Coronavirus super spreaders. Kim Prather, a “virus scientist” from UC San Diego said, “Surfers are saying that they’re safe if they stay six feet away from other people, but that’s only true if the air isn’t moving … Most of the time, there’s wind or a breeze at the coast. Tiny drops of virus can float in the air and get blown around.”
Very much worry about all the spray that surfers, especially noted power surfers, send skyward when we BASH the lip.
In any case, this morning Hawaii’s health director, a doctor, and a University of Hawaii professor violently disagreed with San Diego’s theory and let’s not delay in learning all we can.
A news story from San Diego quotes a scientist who says coronavirus droplets could be spreading in the sea breeze. That scientist hasn’t returned our inquiries.
But Hawaii’s health director, a surfer himself, isn’t buying it.
“I disagree with that,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson.
“I think surfing by its very nature reinforces social distancing.” Professor Miller also says the sea breeze theory is unproven. He also says sunlight is very effective in killing microorganisms, such as the coronavirus.
Hawaii News Now found no hard science tying the spread of COVID-19 to ocean exercise. The risks appear to be the same as anywhere else.
Because of that, University of Hawaii Epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller says the advice is the same: Stay 6 feet away from each other.