Extreme Surfers Losing Their Big Waves

By Ashley Schofield

The search for the big wave is a pastime experienced throughout
the year for many extreme surfers who embark on tow surfing
expeditions. The avid surfers, who do not get enough out of regular
waves, go after the thirty-foot plus waves which can only be
reached by being towed out by watercrafts.

However, this increasingly popular sport is dangerous and strict
regulations are being enforced to protect not only the lives of
those in the water, but also the marine life residing there. The
threat of water pollutants has led the Monterey Bay National Marine
Sanctuary to tighten the standards for the sport, which angers
those who practice this recreation.

“Tow surfing is a completely separate sport on its own,” said
John Perrin, a third-year architecture student and avid short
boarder. “It’s like the difference between short boarding and long
boarding; it’s an entirely different breed.”

Due to the type of waves in northern California, tow riding is
more prevalent because local beaches around Cal Poly do not have
large waves to be towed out to.

“Friends and I have laughed about trying it down here, but we
don’t have the access to a sea-doo, and it would be kind of a joke
to tow out on our smaller scale waves,” said Garrett van Leeuwin, a
third-year architecture student.

In 1992, watercraft use was restricted to the zones of Monterey,
Moss Landing, Santa Cruz and Pillar Point Harbor; the most famous
attraction being Mavericks, which hosts the best waves. The
original size of the permitted boat was 15 feet long and could
carry two people.

However, the zone boundaries have been stretched and unregulated
boats have been sneaking past the set standards. The regulations
for boats has been raised to 20 feet for no more than a capacity of
three, and tighter permitted areas to ensure the lines are not
being crossed.

Surfers contest these restrictions because they believe that
their rights are being infringed upon. Those gutsy enough to
attempt these dangerous rides are well trained and proclaim that
they are not careless when they venture out to the deep ocean.
Reports say surfers feel officials are grappling for any excuse to
stop them; they started with pollution, then noise complaints and
now wildlife.

“The type of waves is dangerous, but the city doesn’t have the
right to take away their waves,” said Perrin. “It’s like taking
away a huge mountain an extreme snowboarder attempts to ride; you
just wouldn’t do it.”

Darrell Ross, a fourth-year marketing student, agrees.

“Those crazy enough to charge those types of waves are going to
find a way to do it anyway and having a jet ski out there works as
a safety mechanism, so the craft can pick them up in case anything
goes wrong,” Ross said.

The surfers at Cal Poly share the common belief that the water
is open domain. However, purists’ express that surfing should be
machine-free, and being dragged by watercraft goes against the
natural expression of the art of surfing.

“I would be pretty happy as a short boarder because jet skis
always get in the way of your wave and it’s annoying,” said

Motors cutting in and out trying to drop off a surfer in the
perfect place for the perfect ride are not always concentrating on
those paddling nearby, which is a dangerous factor.

Although beaches aren’t a short drive from Pomona, Cal Poly is
home to many wave lovers.

Many students flock to Newport or Huntington on the weekends to
relax after the long school week. Despite the variety of clubs on
campus, there is no surf club to provide a forum for surfers to
share their passion.

Craig Gaunce, a third-year accounting major, is working on
getting a club going.

“I went around school last quarter with a surf club sign and got
signatures for people interested in joining the club, but by the
time I got all the necessary approval I missed the cut off date,”
said Gaunce. “I would love a meeting to just talk about the surf,
watch surf videos and arrange carpools to take trips to the

Even if Cal Poly surfers are not extremists, surfing is still an
outlet for many students. California is commonly marked as the
state of surfers, and infringement on one variation can lead to
restrictions of another; however, officials must keep at heart the
safety of the citizens and the environment.

Ashley Schofield can be reached by e-mail at
arts@thepolypost.com or by phone at (909) 869-3744.

Extreme Surfers Losing Their Big Waves

Extreme Surfers Losing Their Big Waves

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