News

Veteran surfer warns of the dangers of crowding

Good swell brought surfers out in droves at Lennox Head yesterday.
Good swell brought surfers out in droves at Lennox Head yesterday. Marc Stapelberg

SUMMER surfing crowds are so intense that a veteran local surfer has warned he is more worried about a death in the water from a surfboard collision than a shark attack.

Prime surf breaks from Lennox Head to Broken Head and The Pass at Byron Bay were packed yesterday, with the conditions bringing boardriders out in droves.

January is always crowded, but Byron Bay surf photographer and writer Ben Bennink said it was the "craziest summer" he had ever witnessed.

"It's very intense in the water at the moment," Mr Bennink said. "The crowds in the water have changed - there's an attitude there.

"I know a lot of people who have just gone to ground. They've said 'that's it, I'm just not surfing'.

"It's only a matter of time (before someone gets hurt)."

Mr Bennink admitted overcrowding at breaks across the North Coast had been an issue for several years, but it was getting worse.

"Surfing has become extremely popular and there's a lot more people in the water with less experience," he said.

"What I see now is a lot of people who just grab a board and think 'let's try surfing' and naturally they just see a crowd and say 'let's go there'."

The problem of learners not being aware or in control, and surfers "dropping in" on others also made frustration "spread like contagion" through the line up, Mr Bennink said.

"When it gets crowded, the nature of the crowd changes ... there's more aggression," he said. Asked for a solution, he struggled to suggest one, except for learners staying away from crowds, and experienced surfers waiting their turn.

Topics:  lennox head, surfer, surfing




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Beef Week saw record crowds flock to Casino

Craig Gapes of the Triple M Red Angus stud at Rukenvale, north of Kyogle, in front of with his nine entrants into the Beef Week cattle show on Saturday. Mr Gapes' 20-month year-old bull Knockout took the top gong.

Beef Week president Stuart George says thousands filled streets.

YOUR SAY: Automatic jail for assaults on police, paramedics

Emergency service workers need more protection.

It's a controversial suggestion, but could it work?

OPINION: Can’t stay away from work in digital age

Young woman checking her computer

Who works a 38-hour week these days?

Latest deals and offers

Lismore real estate agent celebrates 100th birthday

LJ Hooker Lismore principal Paul Deegan is the third generation to operate the 100-year-old family business.

A Lismore real estate is celebrating 100 years in business.

Coastal development keeps young people on Northern Rivers

Wes Bale is a 27-year-old born and bred Lennox Head local who is an example of the demographic shift in the region.

Young Northern Rivers residents are looking closer to home