Surf anarchy threatens Snapper Rocks

March 12, 2014 | Surfing
Snapper Rocks: one wave, one surfer, rare picture | Photo: ASP/Jimmy Cane

Pro surfers have complained about the crowded line-ups of the Gold Coast, in Australia. What can be done to reduce accidents and improve the quality of everyone's rides?

The pros are out of the line-up. Competition's over and the fleet of surfboards returns to Snapper Rocks. Waiting for your turn can be tiring in the Gold Coast. And there's that "thing" called surf etiquette.

"The crowds here are like nothing I've ever seen in the world when you're surfing. It's really, really tough for one person to get space in the water, and it's mostly not fun," says Kelly Slater.

The Floridian surfer has tried to catch some waves in the competition lay days, but the task is never easy when you're at Snapper Rocks. There are surfboards everywhere.

"It's tough. I'm worried what five years or 10 years, or 20 years from now, brings. If it's this crowded right now, I don't know what we're going to do", underlines Slater.

"It's really unsafe - there's just people all over the place. For anyone that goes out there surfing that it's almost not worth going surfing. We're all getting in each other's way, and it's a shame."

Fred Patacchia got three holes in his favourite surfboard while surfing a super crowded Snapper Rocks.

"I tried to protect my board at first. I put my arm up, the board hit my arm and after that I just protected my head and face. And then I came up and there were three big holes in the bottom of my favourite board," reveals Patacchia.

Everyone has the right to surf anywhere, but how can accidents be avoided? How can we enjoy a fair number of waves without priority issues, drop-ins, unexpected wipeouts, failed duck dives, and beginner behaviors?

Surfers and authorities are talking about night surfing sessions, new surf breaks, artificial wave pools, certifying wave riders, and patrolling line-ups. What do you think?