Strife on the ocean waves as surf rage grips Australia

Sydney beach forced to display etiquette of the sea as novice board-riders anger locals

A statue of Duke Kahanamoku overlooks Freshwater Beach, in Sydney, where the legendary Hawaiian surfer demonstrated his sport to Australians in 1914. Surfing quickly caught on, and has been popular ever since – but now Sydney's many aficionados are being accused of an attitude problem.

At Manly Beach, a stone's throw from the Kahanamoku statue, the waves are now so crowded that the council has been forced to put up signs outlining the correct etiquette for surfers.

Manly, one of Australia's most popular beaches and a major tourist destination, has experienced numerous episodes of "surf rage" in recent times. Locals resent newcomers invading their territory, while novices are considered an unwelcome hazard. A surf school has boosted the number of beginners in the waves.

The signs, aimed mainly at visitors and learners, are the first to be erected by a Sydney council. They advise surfers to avoid such crimes as "dropping in" (ignoring another's right of way to cramp their use of a wave by surfing it yourself) or "snaking a wave" (queue-jumping by swimming around another surfer). They also note the importance of waiting politely, and of informing fellow surfers whether you intend to go left or right.

Manly council says the instructions may be helpful to those ignorant of such rules. But the president of the local surfers' action group, Neil Ohlback, welcomed them. "Instead of signs it could have been muscle," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Some of the guys were saying: 'If it doesn't improve, we're going to have to do something about it ourselves.' There was definitely tension with the surf school. This way, if someone paddles up the inside instead of going around, you can point them in the direction of the rules."

Henry Wong, Manly's general manager, defended the signs, saying the public expected the council to regulate behaviour. But some locals have criticised them as a manifestation of the encroaching Australian "nanny state".

At Bondi, Sydney's best-known beach, signs warn visitors that it is prohibited to smoke, drink, play volleyball, throw frisbees or collect shells. "There are so many things banned that it would be more appropriate to put up a list of things that are actually permitted," said Cameron Murphy, president of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties.

While surf rage incidents have become common, inexperience can also be dangerous. Last Friday, a 10-year-old boy was seriously injured while surfing at Byron Bay, 500 miles north of Sydney, when he was struck by a novice's board.

Surfing etiquette: Aussie rules

* Paddling out Surfers should not paddle in the path of surfers already riding a wave, who may well be travelling at speed. Instead they should "paddle wide", around any busy area.

* Right of way The surfer closest to the peak of the wave has priority. Anyone lower down should give way.

* Dropping in Similar to a driver cutting someone off, the manoeuvre is unpopular with experienced surfers and can be dangerous.

* Board safety After a wipeout, surfers should hold onto their board; injuries can be caused by loose surfboards in the water.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test