So, this morning I paddled out at one of the local Tweed beachies I surf regularly, just around the corner from the office.
The waves were good, clean, sunny, and with surprisingly few people in the water. A couple of surfers were up the beach, no-one out at my spot, but four more eventually joined, spread out nicely with stacks of waves for everyone. I couldn't see anyone else down the beach.
The waves were a mixed bag - initially I surfed the inside shorey with random 2ft peaks, but the fat outer bar lured me outside after a while, and I picked off a few slow but fun overhead waves.
Then a jetski motored around the corner and drove into shore, eventually parking on the beach in front of where we were surfing.
Hmmm, I thought.
Four people then appeared on the sand track in front of the carpark, and set up a tent. After a discussion with the jetski driver, one of 'em grabbed a board, and they both jumped on the ski and headed out through the shorey.
The surfer? Sally Fitz.
Sally and the ski then spent the next half an hour zooming along the inside gutter, doing step-offs on the shorey. Yes, that's right - not on the outside bank, but looking for inside peaks where it was barely two feet.
I have no idea why they chose to occupy the only stretch of sand where five surfers had already been surfing for an hour or so. Immediately south are 8km of empty beaches. Beyond that, the next stretch has 2.5km of empty beaches, and after that there's a long curve of empty waves for about 30km through to Byron.
All of which offered identical waves in today's peaky trade swell conditions.
There's been a few skis up and down the Tweed beaches over the last few months, usually surfing empty outer banks. I personally can't see the point, but as long as they stay away from everyone, it doesn't bother me.
The problem with this morning's event was that there were occasional overhead sets washing through the deep gutter from the outer bank to the shore. This means that - in addition to breaking the law, by driving a ski within 200m of surfers - the ski driver didn't always have a clear line of sight to everyone, and would have to make rapid, speedy direction changes if caught by an inside peak (of which there were plenty). This is absolutely not the place for a jetski to be zipping around under any circumstances.
And, the ski managed to screw up the one wave I linked from the outside to the inside, because he was concurrently punching out through the shorey about thirty metres away, sending a one foot cross-chop right through my inside line. Thanks, mate.
Having blown up at a ski in the water before - and thus ruining my session because of the associated negative vibe - I instead chose to question the two blokes on the sand when I came in (filming the event.. Olympic training, I assume?). I asked why they chose to set up camp where free surfers were already in the water.
Their response? "Sorry mate, you guys all seemed to be surfing the outside bank, so we thought we'd surf the inside bank".
When I pointed out that I had caught a good wave through to the shorey, only to have the ski fuck it up, old mate said "oh yeah, I saw that, I was going to apologise when you came in".
But in any case... surfing a two foot shorey with a fucken jetski? Sally is probably one of the fittest surfers on tour, men or women. This wasn't triple-overhead, low tide Hossegor. This morning's shorebreak offered a quick peak, one pump and then a close-out turn.
The thing is: if they'd positioned themselves just a couple of hundred metres down the beach, it would have been OK. Sure, the fumes and whiny noise is annoying, but there'd be no safety risk.
I told the guys that I wasn't expecting them to move their session to another beach, just to observe the laws and not drive a ski where there are surfers. Asked whether they were simply waiting for an accident before moving down the beach - there were more surfers suiting up to paddle out - they couldn't respond with anything else other than a "sorry".
Geez that's poor form from them. I fully support the naming and shaming for that kind of behaviour.
I'm just going to drop these quotes from Sally's website here.
"It is my desire to inspire our next generation of kids to live active and healthy lives and to develop an awareness as to our responsibility to protect and preserve the amazing environment we are blessed to live in.
Our deteriorating Ocean environment and the health of our children are both conditions in our control to effect significant change and I hope to raise awareness and help educate those who will listen and are willing to come along this journey."
"My objective is simple: connect many, inspire more, energise all to live active, healthy lifestyles while caring for the environment."
"The positive news is the disease can be prevented and the environment can be cleaned, protected and preserved. Sally intends to align with groups, businesses and organisations that will provide fun, inclusive education and exercise programs connected with the environment."
Great example of "do as I say, not as I do"
Might have to go out and buy her best seller 'Lose Like Sally' to discover what other pearls of wisdom she spouts.
It’s the stupidity that kills me.
Do they think no one has a mobile phone, access to the internet.
They don’t even try and be discreet in their hypocrisy
Shit Ben, that makes me angry.
I've had to put up with a little bit of this a little bit further north of where I'd say you're talking about. a pack of those dicks come down to the beach every few months with those weird 'jumpy' (sorry don't know the legit term for them) jetskis and watch them decimate, the lineup.
So the rule is 200m from surfers yeah?
What is Sal thinking??
I ummed and ahhed about writing this post.
I thought my close encounter (which showed surfers were linking through to the inside) would cause them to rethink their choice of location, and relocate further up the beach. But no, they stayed where they were. Too hard to move the tent on the beach, I suppose.
And then I spoke to a mate afterwards, who pointed out that he'd seen the same shenanigans elsewhere on the Tweed over the last few weeks. It wasn't a one-off incident.
So, bugger it. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, etc. The blokes with the camera on the beach looked genuinely surprised that I was annoyed about the ski zooming around the shorebreak.
A thought - how are 'step-off's considered relative to towing? Of course, there technically isn't any towing going on, but for all intents and purposes it's the same thing.
For the record, here are NSW Maritime's tow surfing 'rules':
Tow-in surfing is a technique where a person operating a PWC tows a surfer onto a breaking wave. In NSW the following conditions apply to tow-in surfing:
When tow-in surfing, the driver of the PWC:
When tow-in surfing, the PWC is to be equipped with a:
beat me to it Ben
Don't hesitate Ben. I think it's great you've brought that up. This is not WA or Tasmania. This is the Tweed Coast you're talking about.
Thanks for clarifying those rules. I think it'd be good if everyone gets familiar so if any of this behavior is seen can be confidently called out. I've done it a few times and generally they piss off --> side effect is feeling shit due to the negative vibes and overall interaction.
Good on you Ben.
Forget the safety aspect , just the noise , stench and wake is enough so that these crew must have their heads lodged in their date to not realise they were being pests.
No one goes for a chilled surf hoping that a jet ski fool will turn up and advertise their stupidity.
Sally ....id been led to believe that you were better than that .You’re not a closet shitstain are you ....then don’t act like one.
Not surprising behaviour from those that feel entitled, god that attitude annoys me, are you leaving it at this Ben or what’s the next step? Get the rego number of the ski?
Hope you got some rego details and some photos Ben.
Thing that gets me is that there's kilometres of the same beach and waves where you'll disturb no one. Let alone the towing into 2ft shories, this is such poor form!
Ben, not sure if Sally or her crew are Swellnet regulars but offer a right of reply.
Post this up on Instagram, tag her (and anyone else you recognised) and see what they say.
There's guy's that do it around here as well as soon as it hits 4ft with a bit of push.
While they spend most of the time not directly with other surfers they come take peaks off the side, or whizz back home past the lineup just in time to ruin the sets.
And you can hear the noise from a k or two away.
They are completely unpleasant to see anywhere.
Completely at odds with my definition of surfing.
Good work Ben for speaking up directly to them, as they all seem to have no idea.
I tend to just yell 'fuck off' at them but I don't think that does any good.
People need to stop praising all the pros, and tell any skis off. Don't just whinge to your mates or on here.
Pros just cant help themselves even one like sally who you would think would have half a brain....just gotta let their egos get in the way .....So if say Ben was run over i wonder what Sal would have done then......?......Any thoughts on this SALLY.?
Would've been cos they had a team on the beach all set up for filming, hydration, nutrition, lack-of-style analysis, tag-teaming and self-flagellation etc.
Lazy at best (just set up a bit further down the beach!); unsafe and illegal at worst (as you have pointed out, Ben).
Sally seems genuine, like an impressionable 14 year old boy trying to prove himself. Probably got peer-pressured into doing it (was she driving the ski?) like an impressionable 14 year old boy trying to prove himself.
Of course, i could be completely off, like a 14 year old boy trying to prove himself!
Actually, Ben. Are you sure it was Sally Fitz and not a 14 year old boy trying to prove himself?
I think everyone is forgetting something here.
C'mon guys, she's a pro-surfer for chrissake. Aren't we supposed to bask in their radiant glory, gush over their dolphin-like skills bestowed upon them by Neptune himself and turn a salty blind eye to what we as mere mortals would perceive as our own adoration for the superior being selflessly gracing our tiny patch of sand?
Did I ever tell you Kelly Slater and Luke Egan let me surf behind them once? They didn't even have to ask.
It's Surfing Australia / HPC, who should know better, so the icing on the cake is that this behaviour is tax payer funded.
One functioning braincell between them would have said "we're going to look like ignorant bogan fuckwits doing this around other surfers and ...seeing as Sally Fitz is a public figure, maybe it's a good idea we go down the beach"
not a functioning brain cell to be seen in that little dog and pony show.
Im just glad it wasn't Steph, i don't want my image i have of her shattered.
Steph go to Dandy markets Indo?
Rude as. pick a peak elsewhere. Not hard
There were two comments on her latest Instagram post that mentioned this incident, one linked this page saying she could give her side here. Both seem to have been deleted?
The post is also talking about educating kids about keeping the ocean clean :facepalm.
And it was posted less than 24 hours ago.
Well, she knows about it then so we’ll see if she stays quiet or says something.
Pros have a certain entitlement they don’t display on social media. Most are hypocritical egos.
I remember a few years back a previous world champ being on TV news talking about respect and sharing the lineup...2 days later, I was paddling out and a few meters inside of me was said ex pro and offspring and coming down the line was a guy on a wave, dickhead ex pro looks at this guy coming down the line and turns around and pushes offspring onto the wave so this kid drops in / pushed in and takes the wave.
I’ve never shared a lineup with a pro who was anything but courteous. Just more faces in the lineup. Regular surfers but with flashier moves.
You should have addressed Sally herself as she was the centre of it all . No need to be aggressive. It’s easy enough to let someone know that their fuckwit is showing with a smile on your face.
It’s a low and illegal act that all four knew was wrong.
And the weird thing is, as you say Ben, it’s hard to see the point.
Yeah, I smashed some petrol-powered, higher speed, small wave turns. Like, so what.
Was Sellme surfing with her usual mouth wide open and flailing wildly style? Seems like thats what has hampered her world title chances over the years and probably any olympic medal hopes for Australia (that open mouth style must slow her down a bit ,almost like dragging your hand in the face), top that off with now towing around paddlers in 2ft beach breaks = just another pro surfer thats a wanker, no gender bias just observation
Well done on your considered and rational reaction Ben
The behaviour Itself for me is one thing, the hypocrisy within the tripe on her online profile is another level.
It’s so easy to paint a mirage online these days. Integrity is old fashioned.
Breeze the day.......
Talking of Hossegor, last time I saw parko in the water was a 3ft lay day. Beautiful morning, glassy conditions with a small and chilled crew enjoying a generous bank and franglais craic.
Ski slowly motoring up from the port stopped to assess the set up, about 50m away thought he might paddle across and give us a show but nah. Ski made a loop as the next set approached and arrived in time for him to step off on the first wave, pick up and repeat the process for 30mins before moving on.
The contempt from crew was obvious with various insults and hand gestures made in his direction while he destroyed the session, parko's indifference was also obvious.
Like Sally Fitz but with roll models like this is a sense of entitlement really surprising.
View this post on Instagram
Sally “keeping our oceans clean” Fitzgibbons
Craig maybe you can put the photo up? I only know how to do the link
I understand what people are saying about keeping it civil, asking them politely to take their toys and move along, but if they're so heedless of other people that they'd take a ski to an almost empty beach and ride it near the few people surfing then only an aggressive "FUCK OFF!" will cut through their fog of delusion.
They show no courtesy to other people, why show it to them?
Outside of questions raised in this post. How many surfers paddle out to a peak already full with riders in isolated stretches, when peaks unload a couple of hundred meters away. Is it a Safety in numbers concept? How and why has this become the norm? When uncrowded options are available. Surfing isn't always about being within packs that can, an do present false safety pillows for the fear or danger that surfing provides.
Surfing isn't always pleasant or safe and that is one part of the challenge, both mental and physical that makes it special. Have we lost the rawness in approach we once had? Even if as surfers it makes us uncomfortable entering the water, from intermediates to pros? Everybody gets scared, its how you choose to deal with it in relation to others. In no way am saying Sally,s nervous about two foot beaches, she rips.
Yep that totally shits me Robbie.
Sheep mentality is obvious to see in this context but as others have mentioned in other threads, can be used to your advantage, ie luring them deep off the peak or between each bank.
When in remote and sharky spots it's welcomed, though not a whole group, just one or two.
Good call Robwilliams and Craig.
That said, I prefer some (limited) company at isolated spots particularly where sharks are an issue. Just having some company helps not to think about it.
On the weekend I surfed at a fairly remote spot between Cape Otway and SA. Saw a number of cars in the car park but was actually a bit dismayed seeing there was only one guy out. Would have preferred one or two others for peace of mind.
Thankfully towing doesn't seem to be a thing down in Vicco. You get the odd one out at the bommie near BH (which is fine, IMO) and I've seen the odd ski head W of Bells on big days, but aside from that they're rarely seen. Aside from the heroes in the Bay that like being tools close to swimmers.
This is rather disappointing but not surprising to me.
Glad you shared Ben. Name and shame I say. Disgraceful behaviour by a bunch of morons in the sheep flock. She must have got a crackpot team to train hard and come second again.
"Sally is probably one of the fittest surfers on tour,..."
Doesn't rule her out being a self centred, greedy narcissist
“Two Stroke Sally and the insta murfers”
Fake it, edit it, post the illusion
I'd say it probably comes more from a decision by the HPC coaches, and their training methods.
Replace a JetSki with 4 SUPs.
So this morning just because the swell, tide and expected wind change weren’t aligning well I found myself at first light paddling out at a lesser isolated break thereby avoiding the weekend crowds.
It was small but nice, super glassy and the set waves rolled in often enough to make it fun. 30 minutes into what was becoming a very chilled session I was joined by another guy and still there were waves aplenty.
And then it happened .... about a km down the coast 4 SUPs were slowly paddling straight for us. They soon were at the reef oldmate and I had peacefully enjoyed, they immediately paddled straight out the back and preceded to paddle for every wave.
Normally I would have just dropped in or told them to piss off but today I couldn’t, I just caught one in not looking back all the while thinking just because a SUP rider can paddle for every wave it shouldn’t mean they should. As I said above that sense of entitlement really annoys me. Rant over.
Why is there a complete loss of surf etiquette as soon as someone jumps on a sup?
Just an observation, where otherwise fair and generous "boardriders" devolve as soon as they stand on a sup. Got to the point where I did just drop in. Only way to get a wave, on this occasion.........