We saw in Manly this week two incidents where the pros were in the crossfire of the punters. First Charley Quivront was shoved in the back while trying to milk a score during his heat at the Sydney Surf Pro. Then, San Clemente’s, Griffin Colapinto ran over a learner while freesurfing nearby the event the following day. 

 

Griff posted the clip and satirically captioned; “Do you ever Feel like people who paddle around you cluelessly or aren’t good at surfing can’t possibly be intelligent - Dane Reynolds” —plucking a recent Dane quote from an interview where described clueless surfers. 

Griff’s post drew some heat from commentators on social media. 

@taz0.2 

Not everyone dropped out of school, lived in a beachside mansion, and had daddy buy him surfboards. Odds are that most people in the lineup are just doing their best to have fun. Don’t get upset when someone can’t levitate out of the water to get out of the way because Griffin Colapinto decided that he wanted to speed down the line and air rev over someone. You’re a good kid, Griff. Don’t be a prick.

 @grishkassurfaris

Global issue 😡

Every body should be able to enjoy surfing.

But they should also learn the etiquette first and to respect there boundaries 😊

 @snaketales

You really should have spun a little faster so you didn’t hit that poor guy surfing in the middle of the warm-up area for the pro surf contest!!

Just like Manly, freesurfs for the Top 34 at Snapper are a bit like playing a pinball machine. You shoot and hope for the best. Navigating MALs, groms, locals, backpackers and the rest of the CT is a rite of passage and fraught with danger. Busted boards, bruised bodies and blown tempers are the norm. 

“You wouldn’t expect Lebron James to warm up with the crowd,” said Jordy Smith to me before an interview at the Quiky Pro back in 2015. The big bru was steaming after a frustratingly crowded session ahead of the season opener. He was rattled he had to contend with punters as he tried to work out his boards and log some time on the bank before his heat. 

Ahead of this year’s Snapper event, veteran photographer, Simon ‘Swilly’ Williams told Tracks he can’t believe how crowded it’s been north of the border and has no idea how the pros will manage the lineup.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s just so crowded,” says Swill who has spent a large chunk of his life in the blazing Gold Coast sun shooting the Top 34. “It’s crazy crowded, to the point where I don’t think I’ve seen a crowd like it. It seems to me like half of Brazil has come to the Goldy.”

Global human population growth amounts to around 83 million annually or 1.1% per year. You can guarantee that means the number of surfers will increase and pros will have to contend with more frothing crowds as they warm up before events. 

But is there an alternative?

Should pros be given a dedicated zone to freesurf, before and during events? On the flip-side, one may argue that the opportunity to surf Snapper with one other person during a heat is already a rare privilege that regular surfers never have the chance to enjoy.  

If they were given a practice session, how could the WSL police the waves against a hungry pack of Average Joes?

Will Kai Borg be called up to do water security? 

Would locals tell the pros to f$%k off? 

Or is it all fair in love, war, and surf breaks?

Much to discuss.