Paddle Battle: Jet-ski assist banned at Rip Curl Search San Francisco

Stu Nettle
Surfpolitik

Who are Rip Curl planning to use in the commentary booth at their Search event in San Francisco this November? Normally, I wouldn't care but the 'Curl are gonna need some special talent to carry the webcast now that PWC - or jet-ski - assist has been banned at the event.

The announcement was made last month by the National Park Services who oversee the competition area at Ocean Beach and contravenes an earlier understanding that Rip Curl would be allowed to use PWC's.

Ocean Beach is known for having lines of whitewater that must be breached before making the clean water beyond - it can be a long, tough paddle out, even in smaller swells. I recently asked surf writer, Matt Warshaw, who lives locally, what type of conditions the competitors can expect. "The beach picks up all swells, which means there will be surf for sure, but possibly crossed-up. It's always hard, even for pro-level guys, to get a handle on where to sit."

Without PWC assist to ferry surfers out and minimise paddling there'll be a lot of down time during heats. To fill the dead air the webcast commentators will have to dig up all their old chestnuts. While surfers engage in lengthy paddle battles ex-pro commentators can tell old war stories.

I recently spoke to George Durgerian in regards to the PWC ban. Durgerian is the ranger for public affairs and special events at Golden Gate National Park. It's an ideal role, his voice has a deep, authoritative timbre. 'He'd make an ideal commentator' I thought to myself when he answered the phone.

The ban, Durgerian explained, came down to the definition of safety. As a rule all PWC's are banned in the national park except those used for safety purposes. When Rip Curl first applied to stage the competition they were granted the right to use PWC's on the grounds of public safety. However, Durgerian explained, on further review the park board, "Deemed that towing them out didn't meet the correct definition of public safety. We realised it was more for a convenience than a safety measure."

"I feel for them," Durgerian said apologetically, "because obviously they planned to use them and we made it more of a challenge for them."

Another factor, Durgerian said, was that allowing Rip Curl to use PWC's would, "Set a precedent that could be used by other organisers making applications to the park." In 2013 the Golden Gate National Park will be the site of the America's Cup.

Dave Prodan is the international media manager for the ASP. I can't vouch for his qualities as a commentator as we only exchanged emails, but in reply to the ban Prodan stated that PWC's, "Serve the primary purpose of safety for our surfers and staff, and the secondary purpose of allowing surfers to surf more in their heats." The order of priority is important: safety first, convenience second.

Considering that the ban hinges upon the word safety I asked Durgerian if the local lifeguards, who can use PWC's, are capable of patrolling the contest. "I have no doubt that the Rip Curl people are very well qualified, but our people are as well. They know the waters exceptionally well because they're all locals." And with an air of finality Durgerian added, "They have the ability to rescue any troubled surfers."

Despite the findings both Prodan and Brooke Farris, the international event manager for Rip Curl, are adamant they'll find a solution and, at present, the discussions between the three parties are continuing. For everyone's sake - surfers, commentators, and viewers  - we hope they find a way through the impasse.

The waiting period for the Rip Curl Search San Francisco begins November 1st.

Comments

floyd's picture
floyd's picture
floyd commented Thursday, 6 Oct 2011 at 10:15am

A step in the right direction by my reckoning. Why should the National Park Services or local communities change rules or bear the arse when the annual surfing corporation marketing circus hits town.

Anyway, surely a surfing corporation (you know a business that should be close to the environment) wouldn't want to do any damage to an ocean environment or operate illegally in a ntaional park.

stan1972's picture
stan1972's picture
stan1972 commented Thursday, 6 Oct 2011 at 11:53pm

For the sake of surfers, commentaters and viewers? What about the penguins?Won't somebody think of the penguins?

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 1:19am

Great idea! I hate watching a contest while the worlds best get ferried around on jet skis, half the thing in surfing is positioning and paddling strength. The viewers may get a bit bored but at the end of the day the best all round surfer should win. I,d bet it won,t be some Brazillian on a 5,11 thats for sure.
Be nice to see some similar jet ski regulations come in here in Australia , there are way too many skis being ridden by idiots, towing with speed through sea life habitats, dropping oil and fuel in the ocean, launching off fragile dune areas as well as blatant disregard about towing around and thru paddling surfers.
Surfers used to be considered as being on the side of the environment .

z-man's picture
z-man's picture
z-man commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 1:40am

First ever combo event - if the surf gets big enough.
Paddling will decide the winner.

my signature

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 1:45am

But do we want to see that Z-Man? Guess it'll make for a change...

I can understand that jet-ski assist detracts from the 'purity' of the surfing experience, but this is competition not real life. Surfers are judged on what they do on the wave not how well they duckdive.

Competition is ritualised warfare and in the history of warfare the 'paddle battle' has to be the most boring and lame of all conflicts. When the voices in the booth go up in pitch and excitedly call a paddle battle I figure it's a good time for toilet break. I don't care to watch two surfers in a paddling race.

Regarding the environmental angle: Yep, fair enough. PWC's are one of my pet hates for that particular reason. However, it seemed to me that Rip Curl were led to believe it would all be OK so they began the arduous and expensive process of organising and promoting a world tour event only to have the ruling overturned. You can understand the dilemna...

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 2:53am

Gee, Stu, I'd hardly call it a dilemma. Can't imagine too many people (who watch these events) are really gonna turn it off just because they won't be using jetski's. They'd be more likely to turn it off if the surf is shit.....that's a much bigger dilemma if ya ask me.

And it's not the first event in modern surf competitions to not use jetski assist.

No biggie IMO. Decisions been made and Ripcurl should just accept it and move on.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 3:26am

.."A week after that, I saw why paddling like a sumbitch is an essential part of surfing Ocean Beach. Taraval was having what I hereby dub a Saving Private Ryan day, one of those awesome, offshore, hellacious, ass-kicking, perfect 8-10 foot days that taunt big-wave surfers into paddling out: the kind of day where just making it outside can be the accomplishment of a lifetime."

-Ben Marcus 'The Beach' Surfers Journal, Vol 9, No 3

..."Ignore the pictures. The fact of the matter is that it's only good 50 days a year. The rest of the time is spent wishing it was better or taking paddle-out beatings.'

-Matt Warshaw.

..."After 30 years of surfing, I finally got to the point where I felt I could read a surf spot and quickly decode the line-up, how to paddle out, hazards etc. But fuck me if I can do that here"

-Matt Warshaw.

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 4:54am

Creating a surfboard is toxic for the environment. Driving to the beach is too. Unless you grow all your own food and generate all your own power, saying pwc's should be out for environmental reasons is ridiculous. Their real problem is noise pollution, and that's irrelevant at a tour event. The national parks shouldn't have put Rip Curl in this situation. Here's hoping the clubbies can take on the role, cause I don't wanna stay up late watching surfers duckdive.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 5:54am

The whole thing is dumb anyway. Why they are holding a world comp event in a big boofy beach break is beyond me. The average punter has to put up with this rubbish. I don't want to see hotshots in this stuff I want to see more Tahiti. The best surf in the word (indo) doesn't have a comp.

heals's picture
heals's picture
heals commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 5:55am

^^^Ridiculous argument. Please reconsider your line of argument, parse the facts, and restate them.

Then kill yourself.

Sounds like someone at Rip Curl wasn't completely honest about the job role of the PWC. Fingers will point, heads will roll.

heals's picture
heals's picture
heals commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 5:56am

(directed at shoredump)

Memlasurf intercepted the bullet.

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 6:35am

I gotta say, paddling out on the US west coast is like nothing I've ever dealt with before. I've been hammered and swept around like a piece of plastic in head high surf and not made.it out. Like the fella said you can get two or more long period swells hitting at once, a sou-west and a nor-west for examplee, which basically means no lulls. Paddling through that is f*cken impossible.especially when the water is only 10 degrees. I'm keen as to see how they go cos I have somewhat of an idea of how hard it can be.

It's pretty humbling surfing beach breaks over here, or humiliating. You rock up, 4 foot, sweet! Half an hour of paddling later and your whole body is shagged but you've barely got passed the shorey. You're cramping up cos the cold water is making your body seize up and the ice cream headaches make your head explode. And that bloody rip just seemed to disappear on you. Or at least move about 30 meters down the beach. Snow boarding seems like a much better idea about then.

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 6:37am

"The fella" shit it was Matt Warshaw.

t-diddy's picture
t-diddy's picture
t-diddy commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 6:42am

Ocean beach has one of the gnarliest rips ever. its a super straight, long beachbreak in the middle of SF. its not a pristine beautiful beach. theres hard-packed sand and glass and needles and shit. who cares about the jetskis. these guys could easily not catch one wave in a 30 min heat without jetski assist

peter79's picture
peter79's picture
peter79 commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 8:37am

After what Rip Curl did to the good people of Mexico a few years back I hope the contest is plagued with troubles. Fuck 'em

floyd's picture
floyd's picture
floyd commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 9:21am

Crikey, if the rips at Ocean Beach are that good I want to watch "pros" get humbled. Bring it on. Perhaps that will wipe some of the smugness on their over paid faces.

If Ocean Beach is so polluted anyway (as someone above said) why is the contest being held there in the first place? Answer = maximises marketing exposure for the latest must have Tshirt which is what all this competition froth and bubble is about anyway.

As for the suggestion that contests be held in Indo (above) .... what we westerners aren't fucking the place enough already.

bert's picture
bert's picture
bert commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 3:08pm

they could make it real interesting and hang whale chuncks off their boards..1 they ll paddle super fast 2. maybe itll eliminate all brazilians. bring on the paddle carnage..

smeeagain's picture
smeeagain's picture
smeeagain commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 10:30pm

Why are they holding an event there to start with?
Maybe they will get really lucky like the quick pro NY and jag good surf in a place renowned for shit waves.

girlygirl's picture
girlygirl's picture
girlygirl commented Friday, 7 Oct 2011 at 10:45pm

that is one of my least favourite surf breaks on the planet! good luck to them, may the white pointers win.

girlygirl

rail2rail's picture
rail2rail's picture
rail2rail commented Saturday, 8 Oct 2011 at 6:45am

Poor Rip Curl. They may be bummed that they were promised the use of PWC's...but Rip Curl also promised to keep the location of "La Jolla" secret too. Yeah I know...dumb argument.

How many heats have been decided because the surfer chose a crappy wave and was then zipped out the back on the Ski and was able to luck into another wave in the dying seconds? That's not surfing.

And yeah Stu, you're right about the commentary side of things. But I'd rather listen to "old war stories" than some people talk about themselves, which begs the question...what the hell is Doherty going to do??

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Saturday, 8 Oct 2011 at 7:34am

Dunno Rail, reckon that Doherty is one of the better commentators on the circuit. Put him in with an ex-pro like Potts and you've got smooth segueways and old war stories - if only Potts would tell them. I don't tend to get commentator rage, although I have to turn the volume down when Occ or David Stansfield enter the booth and neck a double-shot long black for Louie Egan (who sounds like he's been getting elocution lessons).

There's a few guys that are getting the gist of webcast presentation - which is a fairly new discipline itself - but Ocean Beach might test their skills as much as the surfers.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 8 Oct 2011 at 7:41am

Last year Quik trotted out a real Oscar Wilde/Quentin Crisp dandy; a sort of geezer version of GT to do the beach interviews in France.

He's been axed this year in favour of the more conventional charms of Rosie Hodge.

I reckon they should get the geezer on the phone for San Fran and keep it fruity.

And, agreed with Bert, they need a way to get blood and shark scares into the action for the paddle battles.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Saturday, 8 Oct 2011 at 4:22pm

But you have to admit- Rosie has nice Rack.

And generally, who actually gives a rats when she's blabbering on in her little pink tank top?

Straight to hell for me!!

1173

z-man's picture
z-man's picture
z-man commented Saturday, 8 Oct 2011 at 6:00pm

@stunet;
for the record I think jet skis should be allowed.
Maybe the state parks will reconsider?

my signature

nopro's picture
nopro's picture
nopro commented Sunday, 9 Oct 2011 at 9:53am

Good on the National Parks, considering the location of the event as more valuable than that of Ripcurl and the ASP interests. Have a look at the following website for a good example of the disgracefull acts that Surfing South Australia, Fantastic Noodle food company, Sealink ferry operator and SA gov are doing at this time in a national treasured, naturally significant Island....with the support of the ASP. Surfing is as much about where you surf as riding the wave, treasure the locations of the waves as the top priority....visit www.kangarooislandprosurf.com

floyd's picture
floyd's picture
floyd commented Sunday, 9 Oct 2011 at 10:07pm

It wasn't too long ago nopro when the surf media and high profile surfers would quickly back you and our group's opposition to such events. Lets hope it happens now .... how about it Swellnet?

This planned event on Kangaroo Island is exactly why surfers everywhere should be concerned about the environment beyond their local beach .... The now failed proposed development of Bastion Point at Malacoota (VIctoria) is another example of local business interests threatening a natural surfing environment. Few will remember now the fight it took to save the Myall Lakes from sand mining in the 70s. Surfers were at the front of that fight; good on them.

Will be adding my name to the opposition and hopefully many more visit your link and do likewise.

tf-west-oz's picture
tf-west-oz's picture
tf-west-oz commented Friday, 14 Oct 2011 at 2:21pm

Man how are some of the negative opinions above from so called surfers ....

Surfing is for everyone ,The ocean is for everyone ,Life is meant to be enjoyed and if you cant accept change and growth get back in your cave.

40,000,000 people are viewing each ASP WT event because of the brilliant interaction that the world tour of surfing is bringing to your laptop anywhere in the world.

You where simply not fortunate enough to be born in 1950's where you could of had any local beachy or point to yourself riding a handcrafted wooden sled.........wake up your riding a petroleum based product which gives you every ounce of happiness once you take off and fly down the line and you drive a car to the beach pumping out fumes yet this local Golden Gate National Park will not let a few Jetskis wizz the boys straight out the back to benefit what is a world wide spectator sport.

Some have said above it takes a true surfer to know where to be for the next set wave.......well when a Jetski drops you off in a designated drop off zone , in a so called playing field like Sunset or bigger you are sure going to need the balls to paddle into a bomb and the natural instinct to be in the right spot for the next set wave , which supposedly could peak anywhere.....as per locals,

This events will need Skis for number 1 safety reasons and secondly for the spectators if used appropriately.

PS IF YOU STOP AND THINK ABOUT I THINK THE BOYS ON THE WT HAVE PADDLING DOWN PAT......ITS THE PADDLING OVER THE EDGE THAT COUNTS.

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun commented Saturday, 15 Oct 2011 at 7:21am

Good on the national parks, give rip curl an inch and they will take a mile. You guy's bangin on about safety, get real there professional surfers, do they have a jet ski to save them when they are free surfing? Let em get pushed back to the beach without getting a wave, they can have a look into the world of the average surfer.

I'm the scab you keep picking off and is there again the next day.

lukesripping's picture
lukesripping's picture
lukesripping commented Sunday, 16 Oct 2011 at 11:01pm

when are rip curl going to have a rip curl jet ski ? made in china of course ,im surprised they havent built a ski lift in the surf and make the users pay $100.00 for a half day [there you go rip curl a good earner for you ]

+out there+

da-duke's picture
da-duke's picture
da-duke commented Monday, 17 Oct 2011 at 2:56am

As if this event will have a fraction of the environmental impact of the America's Cup!? A few jetski's buzzing a couple of people around a 300m square line up compared to this - [http://www.nauticwebnews.com/pic/2010/08/34AC001.jpg].

As for the choice of venue in the first place?!holy shitcakes? who heads up the Rip Curl 'search' dept, Dora the Explorer? Fricken comical.

If it gets over 6ft at OB then maybe the organisers should consider doubling up the heats. Reduce the amount of unridden waves and get the hell outa there asap.

non-local's picture
non-local's picture
non-local commented Monday, 17 Oct 2011 at 10:08pm

to tf-west-oz - mate I am of the same opinoin as you.
Check out the Portugal comp at the moment, no jet ski's. They dont need them at certain spots, but at San Fran Fucking Poluted Cisco what is the problem? Why would the National Parks Authority say they could have them in the first instance and then say they couldnt when Rip Curl had already started to organise the event and sink a lot of peoples efforts into it? Can the Life Guards do as good a job of safety as the ski riders who work for the ASP? I don't think so! and as da-duke says above - what impact will it have anyway?
The surfers are surfers and if they have to paddle out, they won't find it too much of a problem and there will still be heaps of waves ridden.

one good turn deserves another

whaaaat's picture
whaaaat's picture
whaaaat commented Saturday, 22 Oct 2011 at 1:32am

Are you sure that Rip Curl isn't being a bit disingenuous about the 'earlier understanding' with the Park?? The April 23 press release stated that "The event will take place between stairwell 20 at VFW's north to Kelly's Cove. There will be no PWC assist. (At least as of right now, PWC will be on hand for rescue only.) No skatepark. No music festival. No local trials. No backup venues."

http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/rip-curl-search-event-location-announc...

whaaaat's picture
whaaaat's picture
whaaaat commented Saturday, 22 Oct 2011 at 1:33am
rail2rail's picture
rail2rail's picture
rail2rail commented Sunday, 23 Oct 2011 at 12:11pm

..."Ignore the pictures. The fact of the matter is that it's only good 50 days a year. The rest of the time is spent wishing it was better or taking paddle-out beatings.'

-Matt Warshaw.

Regardless of the intended use of jetski's and the enviro hoo-haa, the above statement has to have you questioning - why have the event there in the first place??

ryder's picture
ryder's picture
ryder commented Sunday, 23 Oct 2011 at 10:41pm

It seems the norm now for organisers of such contests to be granted approval to run the event, and then worry about public consultation and finer details once the hoo-haa has been announced.

Talk about jumping the gun.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011 at 9:13pm

The comp starts in five days and RC still don't have permission to use jet-ski assist. It appears extremely unlikely that it'll happen now. The charts are showing a bit of swell on the way - probably around 6'+ on the opening days. Not sure about local winds.

top-to-bottom-bells's picture
top-to-bottom-bells's picture
top-to-bottom-bells commented Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011 at 10:24pm

If they dont get PWC assist i'm curious to see how RC spin it. Remember their Uluwatu/Padang 'Search' in 2008 when they painted it as a funny and ironic search even though everyone knew it was a last resort as they had nowhere else to run it (they were denied Gnarloo, Lennox and Raglan and needed somewhere quick).

What will they say about this? They planned it all along to test the surfers fitness? Get to it spin doctors!