This week, hours after the California State Park Department closed the beach and surf at Trestles, a pair of surfers made the dubious decision to boat into Lowers. Dropping anchor outside the lineup, with six-foot sets rolling through, they barely had time to catch a wave apiece before their anchor gave and their small craft was sent careening shoreward.
The entire incident was captured live on Surfline's webcam. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but lifeguards and local authorities were understandably not amused.
This is exactly the type of behavior the Surfrider Foundation is advising against. So this week they launched their new campaign #StayHomeShredLater, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are advocating for surfers to please hang at home, practice social distancing and avoid crowded public spaces, including beaches and surfing areas.
"In response to the coronavirus crisis, public health experts have emphasized the importance of staying home, the necessity of physical distancing and have explained the dangers of crowding into any public spaces, including beaches," reads a Surfrider report published on April 7.
"Surfrider therefore strongly encourages everyone to adhere to state and local laws and health department guidelines designed to protect our communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19," continues the statement. "This includes practicing physical distancing and accepting temporary closures of public resources, including libraries, parks and beaches."
Understanding that at this time not all beaches and surf breaks are closed to the public, it is important to know what the potential risks may be.
"There is still no information on the ability of the COVID-19 virus to remain viable in saltwater, so it's unclear if swimming at saltwater beaches elevates the risk of contracting COVID-19," reports Surfrider. "However, communal spread is a serious issue so spending time at popular beaches, if in close contact to other beachgoers, will increase your risk."
At some point, we will get through this and our favorite surfing haunts will once again be open and the waves will still be there waiting. For the health and safety of everyone, please continue to heed the recommendations and advisories from your local authorities.
It's like the Surferider Foundation says, "Stay home, shred later."