Watch the surfcraft area shrink this summer
With summer approaching, coastal councils are anticipating an expected influx of visitors to their beaches and drawing up plans to cope in the age of social distancing.
This week, two Sydney councils released their summer action plans, both of them comprehensive in scope, and both will adversely affect surfers.
Northern Beaches Council (NBC) takes in the entirety of Sydney's coastline north from the harbour, including all thirteen surf beaches. This summer, lifeguards will keep track of crowd numbers on the hour and, when threshholds are reached, then follow a flow chart to deter more people arriving while handling the people already there.
Of note, council lifeguards are now encouraged to "activate additional flagged swimming areas as required and where practical to reduce crowd density."
In other words, this summer the flags won't just take the best bank on the beach, but some days they'll take the second-best bank too. How an already swollen surf population responds to being shoved into a smaller area remains to be seen, but it's likely NB surfers will face their own red and yellow peril.
Yesterday, Waverley Council released their beach action plan, and, fortunately for Bondi and Bronte surfers, they won't face the same predicamant as surfers north of the harbour, however the policing of crowd numbers is likely to be more exhaustive. An unsurprising response for the city's most popular beaches. When the carrying capacity of each beach is being approached, all transport options to the beach are limited, and then when the number is reached the beach is closed - no further people are allowed, not even to cross the sand and paddle out.
Council claims to be erecting infrastructure to limit access points.
The result of closing patrolled beaches to visitors, and potentially corralling them towards unpatrolled ones isn't addressed in either council's action plan.
For surfers, the advice is to get in early, or to get a foamy. Speaking of which, 3D Fins recently won the Australian Good Design Award for their Gohard/soft fins - fins that are hard in the centre but soft in the outside to increase softboard performance - and the timing couldn't have been better.
Swellnet reached out to other councils in Sydney and also in Victoria and Queensland but is yet to get responses.