Please God, No Surf Contest at my Home Break

I live near one of the most well-known point breaks in California. There are very few secret spots in California, perhaps none in Southern California. If I named it, believe me, I wouldn’t ruin it for the locals. It’s been overcrowded for decades.

Still, I’ll keep with the tradition of not naming names. I don’t surf this point break because of the crowds, regardless of how superb the waves can get here.

A female surf icon, who made a name for herself by winning a prestigious Hawaiian surf contest about 50 years ago, and who has spent a lot of time in this area, wants to hold a four-day long women’s longboard championship at this premiere point break.

The break has not held a contest since the 1960s. Logistics, including a steep, long, narrow staircase with no infrastructure to support a contest, is the main reason there has been no surf competition here in over 40 years.

A quasi-religious group who owns a landmark temple adjacent to the world-famous break has a lot of influence in town. Their pristine campus hosts meditation retreats.

Having a contest here could potentially open the door for future contests. Although the city’s general plan states that this beach shall not allow for surf contests, the language in the general plan is somewhat ambiguous.

The city council voted to allow the surf icon/promoter to go with the process of applying for the special permit.

Surfers like myself are livid that such a precedent has been granted. If one contest is held here, what’s to stop numerous surf promoters from applying for a special permit.

Pandora’s Box has indeed been opened.

But what’s my motivation for not wanting the contest? Wouldn’t it be cool to watch the world’s best female longboarders put on a masterful display of grace and beauty just a couple minutes from where I live?

Wouldn’t having the contest here add to the local economy? Business owners are still reeling from the sluggish economy. The main street here would almost certainly benefit from a five-day surf festival, as the promoter is calling it.

But what about the reputation of the area on the headland above the surf break, where the meditation gardens exist? Wouldn’t it be dangerous to allow even just one contest a year?

If allowed, the threat of law suits would be high. If one promoter is denied a special permit application, they could merely cite as precedent the women’s longboard championship.

The quiet sanctuary of the meditation garden would be jeopardized.

Admittedly, it’s selfish reasons why I don’t want the contest to be held.

If allowed, all the regulars who surf this popular point break would paddle out a few hundred yards north, to the reefs where I usually surf. Not only the locals, but many visitors to the area would catch on to my favorite break, which has already gotten exponentially more crowded just over the last year.

There would definitely be a spillover effect on the reef break where I surf.

I went to the city council meeting, in which the council, by a 3-2 margin, allowed for the promoter to apply for the special permit to host the contest.

On a certain level the meeting seemed like democracy at its finest. Both proponents and opponents of the contest were able to address the council to state their case.

I have to give credit to the opponents of the contest who in my opinion didn’t come across as angry, self-righteous, selfish surfers whose only motivation was to not have to share waves.

Instead, they focused on the absurd and seemingly-impossible logistics of having to host the contest.

Even the lead brother of the spiritual organization was in attendance, stating his case that the organization had some vital concerns about the contest being held, especially since it would be in conjunction with an all-female silent meditation retreat.

On the other hand, you could see the machinations of local politics in gear. You could almost see the back scratching of the promoter and mayor, who is one of the five council seats.

Who knows if his decision was made before the council meeting, I wouldn’t doubt it.

Is praying to God to not allow the surf contest a waste of time? Is it totally self-serving? Instead, should I be praying for world peace and clean-water and food abundance for all humanity? How narcissistic is it to pray for something simply for the fact that it will allow me to catch more waves?

In the end, I didn’t have to pray much. Just days after the council meeting, the promoter decided to abandon her hopes to have a world-class contest at this world-class wave. It was out of respect to the spiritual organization, she claimed.

So for now, I am relieved that my beloved local reef break will not be threatened with even more people. I am also happy that the spiritual sanctuary nearby is saved from megaphones, bullhorns, jetskis and other surf contest cacophony.

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