Here’s what NOT to do on your next surf trip.
During the June long weekend a circus came to town that no one asked for and left behind a trail of destruction. The worst was at my favourite wave. It’s super nice bushland with only a few houses down there and to see such a circus out there, especially people trashing the carpark, throwing their rubbish in the bush, and crapping everywhere, it was insulting to the place and the local people.
The swell that hit that week was as hyped as it gets down here and there are days at this joint where everyone comes down from Sydney or wherever else to surf. But this day was a little bit more crowded than usual, everyone was a little bit more excited than usual, a couple of guys were not looking and going waves on top of other people. It was a weird vibe for out there, which is normally pretty good.
It’s one of the most intimidating waves I’ve ever surfed, which I can say having travelled the world now. I’ve taken a few of the best big wave surfers there and they’ve come away from it completely tripping on how gnarly the place is. Some people go out there and get really excited and just huck themselves into waves without really looking or thinking. It’s heavy to say but it seems like just a matter of time before someone gets really injured out there. The make-ratio is pretty out at the moment. You see 80% stacks out there if you watch a whole session. At a wave like that you’re on a big board, and you’ve got a big board swinging around under the water at you, on a pretty shallow reef, with big hold downs but it feels like it’s taken as a bit of a joke on those days. It’s no joke.
A friend called me up and said he went back for a dive a couple of days later and there was rubbish all through the car park and shits in residents’ front yards. That’s what hurt the most: to know people were coming here, leaving all their stuff, and trashing the place. We talked to a couple of residents who lived right there and they were pretty bummed on what went down. They’d always been psyched on everyone surfing out there. To hear from them the vibe had changed after that day was a bummer.
You’d think as surfers we’d spend so much time in the ocean that we’d care about keeping it pristine and not full of trash. So it is pretty confusing that some surfers have that attitude. It’s shitting in your own nest. You have to wonder about the kinds of surfers who would do that. Brainless, idiot kooks, you’d have to say. I can’t really see an excuse for leaving rubbish on the ground. Leaving rubbish around and crapping in the wrong places are the number one things you don’t do. Try and leave the place as it was.
Some people go to a new place and they forget there are rules and customs in place there and they get too excited in their head to stop and think about what they’re doing and making sure everyone else is having as much fun as they are. Everyone who has been surfing for a while knows there are a few basic rules you follow when you travel. These are non-negotiable and total no-brainers. Here’s a few that I abide by:
- If it’s a low key wave that the whole world doesn’t know about it, it’s best not to include locations or names in the shots or real time updates. I think that’s increased crowds a whole lot around the world.
- A lot of the time people are posting real time Instagram or Facebook videos so everyone knows what conditions it will work on next time. I try to avoid doing that wherever I go, which is a double-edged sword with my job being to promote my surfing but there is a way to find a good balance between getting content and completely blowing a place out.
- Wherever I go, the locals always have the rights to the best waves. I don’t rock up at some new place halfway around the world and try and take the good ones off the local boys.
- I mainly stay low key and travel in a small pack. Stay as low key as possible, don’t leave rubbish around.
- Filming landmarks is another thing. If I’m working on a clip at an unknown wave, just try and film the wave itself rather than the pretty cliff in the background. It will make it inevitably more known and crowded.
I really wonder about the people who come down here and disregard all these rules. It’s like they haven’t grown up in the surf culture. It’s a really small surf community down here. Everyone knows everyone so if you act up and do something out of line, you’ll definitely be pulled up by someone. There’s certain waves down here we don’t film, we just go surf, like the community waves in town. It is just a small town vibe, really cruisy and mellow.
There are some spots that have staunch localism but generally everyone is really chilled. If someone they have never seen before paddles out and cruises and isn’t being an idiot in the lineup, they will get their fair share of waves and everyone will be happy. Though sometimes that will be taken advantage of as well. You see that happen a bit.
Like everywhere in the world it’s changing down here. Everywhere is getting more crowded, more people are surfing, there’s more promotion of all the waves around. That’s just a change that’s going to happen but there’s still a way to have a lot of people in the lineup and have it work. - Russ Bierke (as told to Jed Smith)