The Pass at Byron Bay is known as a crowded break. (Supplied: Kirra Pendergast, Common Ground Byron Bay)
Councillors in the tourist hot spot of Byron Bay have voted to crack down on “hipsters” not wearing leg-ropes while surfing.
Councillor Cate Coorey, who introduced the motion to begin a safety awareness campaign about the problem, said she had witnessed the danger posed by people not wearing leg-ropes in busy surfing breaks, such as The Pass.
“It comes from personal experience and many people I know have nearly been mowed down by out-of-control boards,” she said.
“A couple of times I’ve actually grabbed kids to keep them out of the way of the board.
“I just think it’s incredibly irresponsible.”
Cr Coorey said the trend appeared to be particularly rife among so-called hipsters trying to emulate a retro style of surfing.
“It’s mostly people riding long boards who seem to be having a love affair with times past, but we also used to drive without seat belts and there were many fatalities,” she said.
“Sometimes there is a good reason for advances in technology.”
The council’s decision to embark on an education campaign and investigate other possible deterrents has been welcomed by the surfing community.
Seven-time world surfing champion Layne Beachley said people riding boards without leg-ropes were a disaster waiting to happen, and it should be mandatory for people to wear leashes at point breaks.
“It’s getting crowded out there and when people lose their boards, especially the long boards, and they just come running through the line-up, it can cause some serious damage to people,” she said.
Injuries can be life-threatening
Byron surfer and 1993 women’s world champion Pauline Menczer agreed people needed to be educated on surf etiquette surrounding leg-ropes and welcomed the council’s vote.
“It sounds absolutely awesome; I’m all for it,” she said.
“It’s getting way too crowded and there’s way too much arrogance. It will be good for people to be taught the rules,” she said.
Local emergency room specialist Blake Eddington also applauded the council’s decision, having treated patients severely injured by runaway boards.
“Unfortunately I’ve witnessed it firsthand, looking after several people,” Dr Eddington said.
“But one stands out — a nine-year-old boy who had a severe neuro-surgical injury.
“He had multiple skull fractures and sand and salt water contaminated his brain from the direct impact of a long board at Byron.
“It was a life-threatening injury and that is going to affect that person for the rest of his life.”