Ocean Beach: PWC is banned, just like cargo ships

Jet skis may not be doing their usual surf job when the 2011 Rip Curl Search hits Ocean Beach, in San Francisco, on November 1st. Despite the known sweeping currents, personal watercraft (PWC) is banned from the sea waters and surfers will have to paddle out by themselves.

According to the National Parks Service (NPS), there's a 2009 law that forbids PWC's from operating in the area because of pollution issues. Pro surfers and the organization believe it's a matter of competitors' safety and that a special authorization could be lifted for a special event like the Rip Curl Search.

The Association of Surfing Professionals explains why the PWC's are used in surf contests. "If our competitors or staff get into a dangerous situation, having the PWC there obviously allows help to get to them much quicker. This is especially important at events with large surf or where the competitors are positioned relatively far from shore", tells Dave Prodan.

"The secondary reason for PWCs at our events is to provide competitors with Jet Ski assist during the man-on-man heats. Once a surfer completes a ride, they may elect to hop on the back of a PWC to get back out to the lineup faster. This allows for more waves to be ridden, creating a better product for our audience", he adds.

The National Parks Service doesn't want to open a precedent with their strict rule because the 2013 America’s Cup yacht races are coming and the same question will be raised.

Despite the different points of view, Rip Curl and the National Parks Service will try to reach a successful finish for both parties: respect for the safety of surfers and for the environment.