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‘This situation is bigger than surfing’

Message during the lockdown is to stay at home.

Surfing might not be banned during the lockdown but all activities that carry risk should be avoided, and surfing is one of those, says Gisborne Boardriders Club development officer Flo Bub.

“Banned or not, we should all do our bit. We shouldn't go biking or chainsawing or surfing.”

If a surfer gets into difficulty, or is injured, people will gather to help. This increases the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“For me, it's really hard not to go for a surf but hopefully this is a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

“This situation is bigger than surfing. I probably wouldn't say that about a lot of things. For people who surf it's a part of their lives. It's hard to explain to a non-surfer that it's an almost spiritual feeling.”

But right now, the nation is in a crisis and this calls for empathy and consideration of others, says Mr Bub.

“Behave as if you have Covid-19. You wouldn't climb ladders, go mountain climbing or surfing then. Don't treat the crisis as a holiday.”

The message during the lockdown is stay at home, says surfing identity and Gisborne district councillor Larry Foster.

“Every time people congregate they are at risk of exposing themselves to others who might have the virus. Everyone has to be responsible.”

Mr Foster limits his own outings mostly to walking the dog.

“Even at the supermarket I feel vulnerable. There are so many people around you and touching things. We need to adhere to what the PM said and lock down. Go out only when essential and look after your family.”

OUT IN THE WATER: Surfers wait for a set at Wainui Beach yesterday. There were reports of as many as 20 surfers in the water at one time during the Alert Level 4 lockdown. Picture by Paul Rickard

  1. Mr Smith says:

    Fine the idiots and confiscate their boards. I find fishing and diving very spiritual too, but you don’t see me out on the water pulling up a feed for my family. Some of us are in it together and others think we’re on a holiday.

    1. ALAIN JORION says:

      Thanks Mr Smith. Like you we like to go fishing and catch a feed. But we are banned to do that. As said “we are all in this together” no excuses. However I am dismayed as a person fishing set a net across the river at the bottom end of Anzac Park last night. He was in a kayak where handling a net like that is extremely dangerous. When I lived on the Kapiti Coast a commercial fisherman set a butterfish net in a dingy on the reef in the middle of the bay. The net while being laid caught his arm, pulled him over the side, he got tangled in the net, underwater and died. The Plimmerton Boating Club rescue boat/Fire Brigade crew pulled the net in with a dead fisherman. That’s why surfers are no different to banned boaties and fishermen in all of New Zealand. Shame on you.

  2. Michael Donnelly, Opotiki says:

    The chances of surfers more than 2m apart in the ocean spreading Covid-19 is laughable . . . people are just paranoid because of the mixed messages the Government is communicating. There is no difference from people walking on the beach with dogs, or people out cycling. Let common sense prevail.

  3. Lara MEYER says:

    The day the lockdown began, an injured surfer was choppered off Wainui Beach following a mishap. I understand that surfer is in a stable condition in hospital somewhere. I assume that surfer was pretty competent. Wainui Beach is not for the inexperienced.
    That means medical staff are now caring for him. The situation in NZ with covid 19 is not laughable at all. The message has not been mixed, particularly regarding avoiding risky pastimes.
    Please don’t conflate walking a dog on a beach with surfing, kayaking, biking or sailing. Or hunting, or whatever else people think they should be entitled to do.
    Hundreds of thousands of people are sick and dying all over the world and none of us have immunity against this virus. We don’t need to lose people here, we can make sure very few people die. Who can you afford to lose in your whanau? Who are your 1%? Nobody I bet. So please don’t encourage others to suit themselves right now. Talk sense to yourself.

    1. Jake says:

      Smith and Lara
      I get 50 bikers cycling down my street every hour. Bikers are out more than ever at the moment. One came off yesterday. Should police enforce a nationwide crackdown on every activity besides walking and confiscate all bikes while we’re at it?
      I’ve surfed most of my life and have never seen anyone pulled out of the water. It comes down to common sense, like anything else. Surf within your limitations and distance yourself from others. If surfers are seen to be openly congregating, then sure, give them a warning and then a fine. Please don’t let emotion override logic here.

      1. Lara MEYER says:

        Hi Jake,
        This is not about me showing emotion, this is about following the logic. And the data. Make no mistake. So you guys go ahead and please yourselves. The more intelligent people in the community, the ones who understand basic biology, will try to stay well away from you. Darwin’s theory of evolution will play out I guess.

        1. Bob says:

          Jake’s logic looks pretty spot on. Biking is in the top ten most dangerous sports. Why are we still allowed to bike through this but we can’t surf? Where is the logic there? I won’t be surfing during this period and I definitely won’t be biking, and also I won’t be base jumping either – apparently that is really bad.

        2. Tim Dodd, Waihi Beach says:

          Sorry Lara, you’re not using common sense, or intelligence as you put it – surfers, like anyone going outside, need to be using common sense (when used it is not a ‘risky past time’) and following the advice from the Ministry of Health, which says: “At times of crisis it’s important to give our minds and bodies what they need to stay healthy …fun, exercise, mindfulness, …relaxation, …nature… space…whatever works for you… still go outside for a walk, run or cycle, as long as you stay in your ‘bubble’…get some fresh air…and make sure you make time for fun.”
          we have people coming down to the beach and i have not seen one person with their dog on a lead all I’ve seen that had been on a lead have let them go as soon as they reach the beach so true we don’t want to ‘conflate’ them as these idiots are a higher risk of spreading the virus.

    2. MissM says:

      With Respect-
      I have surfed for 20 years and my husband has surfed for 30 years on a very regular basis. Neither of us has ever ended up requiring emergency services or hospitalisation in all of this time and I believe that we are the rule, not the exception.
      Surfing has an unfair reputation of being a dangerous sport when in fact – when practised with care by experienced practitioners – it is actually extremely low-impact and low-injury.
      No, this is not the time to learn to surf or to go surfing if you are at all inexperienced, just as now is not the time to take up mountain biking (which, I might add, is currently allowed under Covid-19 rules).
      But please, let common sense prevail and allow people to surf as long as they are experienced, limit themselves to reasonable low-risk conditions, and practice responsible social distancing.
      If the hospitals do get overwhelmed by Covid-19 (right now there are a total of 10 covid patients hospitalised nationwide in NZ, hardly ‘overwhelmed’) then I think there should be a reassessment of limiting all sports with a risk of injury, and that is not limited to just surfing.
      The event in Wainui was a freak accident. Since lockdown here in Taranaki a man chopped off his thumb during a DIY project and a young boy’s rope swing broke and he tragically died. Sadly, you cannot stop freak accidents from happening.
      Let logic and common sense prevail – let us (responsibly) surf!

  4. Alistar McKellow says:

    There is an inconsistency in approach to isolation occurring.
    The GDC closes cycleways to cyclists but not walkers. They ask that walkers over Kaiti Hill maintain distancing.
    What part of isolating and staying local is to be implemented?
    A surfer at sea presents no more accident-risk than a walker having a misfortune on a slippery track.
    Strict self-isolating means exactly that. It does not mean long bike rides or track walking or surfing. Neither going over Kaiti Hill or on walking tracks qualify as staying local. While GDC is doing a good job supporting the elderly, the message needs to be consistent. Andy Cranston had a good piece in this paper.

    1. ALAIN JORION says:

      The difference between a biker and a surfer are certainly not the same. Those out in the water have to be rescued such as the Coast Guard or another surfer. The close contact saving a surfer is potentially a way the coronavirus will spread. Its a no-brainer. As for no others with Coronavirus, who knows. Campers are coming into the region and this means some are not self isolating. A bit of sense by us all will save lives, even maybe a surfer or two. Remember “we are all in this together” and we must all make sacrifices. Otherwise take the flak from Police and GDC who are doing their best.

      1. MissM says:

        Are you suggesting that if a biker came off his bike and broke his neck that no emergency personnel would come into close contact with him?

  5. Pete Rasmussen says:

    It is a democratic country so they can go for a surf if they want to. There is only one person in Gisborne confirmed to have the disease and he is isolated, so how is anyone here to get the disease? I have been told the cops have checkpoints on the roads. The emergency powers are way too heavy-handed, especially in Gisborne. More people die of smoking-related problems than this disease will ever kill, every year! This is hysteria!

  6. Dave says:

    As we all saw or heard today, even the Minister of Health thinks that going for a bike ride is good. WHO has also stated that exercise is good for your mental health and that adults should be doing 30 minutes every day and children 60 minutes. As long as people are being sensible about what they do, maintain their distance, avoid touching public surfaces. Being physical is good for your mental health in everyday life; being locked up in your house most of the day, it’s even more important for many people. Seems far too many angry busybodies about, and I am sure they would benefit from some good outdoor exercise.

    1. Ms Smith says:

      The angry busybodies should read the police guidelines which state that surfing at a reasonable distance to home, while maintaining social distancing, is reasonable in the circumstances. There is no enforcement power available to the police to stop this, so why busybodies would want to tighten the rigid conditions we are already forced to live under astounds me!

    2. MissM says:

      I agree! Make our voices heard and read (and sign if you agree)…

    3. MissM says:

      Sure, let’s all go surfing again. Don’t forget the SUPs, the kayakers, single hull waka, jet skis, kite surfing, wind surfing, swimming and boogie boarding. Their individual needs must be met as well. Surely there is no need for anyone to make a small sacrifice at this time.

      1. ALAIN JORION says:

        MISSM. Over the weekend the government announced that SURFING IS BANNED. Have a go at the health Ministry and Jacinda Ardern and be shown you are wrong right now. Amen.
        As an aside, walking close to home today, in a public park fresh condoms were tossed out of cars last night so if this doesn’t spread coronavirus from more dummies, I don’t know what will. I bet none of those could do it standing 2 metres apart!!!