28 July 2010

Regulators

The most vocal and least tolerant regulator at our break was nice enough to retrieve my board after one of my rather spectacular feet-flying-over-my-head-while-the-dreadlocks-stood-out-as-if-I'd-stuck-my-hand-in-a-light-socket dismounts. Mind you, he wasn't always this nice to me. I had to earn his respect, both through my surfing and my actions out of the water. He's not a big guy in stature, but Lord help you if you drop in on him or any other local while he's in the water. This is the man who once came up to me in the parking lot and said, "If you don't start yelling at them [and, yes, he meant kooks—I still hate to use that word], I'm going to start yelling at YOU!!!" This is the man who told several of us female surfers that it was time for us to start doing some regulating of our own. He made it clear that if any male ever mouthed off to us in response, we were to let him know and he'd deal with it.

Well, I've yet to wish the wrath of this man on anyone. I tend to surf away from the main peak at the home break. I don't know that "shy and retiring" is a good way to describe me. Actually, I continue to channel Marlene Dietrich because I really want to be left the $#^! alone when I surf at the home break. These days, I'm usually working on stuff when I'm out in the water. So I need room to lose the board, walk the board, work on cutbacks/drop knee turns. I can't do that when too many people are in the way. I think that aspect of my surfing has gained me a lot of respect from the locals as well. They see the improvements. They see that I'm serious. They know that I quietly go about my business while respecting them and their claim to this beach.

This picture made me consider the debate that people in the surf world often have regarding localism and regulating. My feeling is that it's a part of surfing that won't ever go away. Whether we like it or not, regulating has its place. This is not a black or white issue. It's neither, to me, good nor bad. It simply is. When folks invade your break, dropping in at will or happily acting as if surf etiquette is some sort of fantastic myth brought to us by the ocean pixies, you are more than happy to let the regulators straighten them out. When this guy was out of the water for awhile after the birth of his youngest child, he was sorely missed by the rest of us. There are other regulators at the break, but their actions pale in comparison to the venom this guy unleashes on those who piss him off. I admit that I appreciate his presence in the water. It cuts down on the anarchy. I've never seen him resort to violence. Frankly, his tongue-lashings are probably worse than a beating. I think those who cross him understand that a man who can deliver that kind of fury with well-chosen words and the tone of his voice will beat the shit out of you if you make him even more angry.

I'm just glad our regulator likes me. I earned that respect and I plan to keep it.

14 Comments:

At 7/29/10, 5:52 PM, Blogger Travel / Surf Guy said...

Hey Sis,

It's all about respect - you need to give it to earn it and it sounds like you're respected out there in the line-up.
Vey scary looking dude and one that I wouldn't like to "butt-heads" with - every place needs one of those.

I remember a session we had at Wilkes Reef in Fiji, there was about 8 of us out all sharing waves having a great time when a boatload of guys turned up and one of them was from Brazil - he burned everyone so we all banded together and forced him back to the boat for an hour (it was either sit out for an hour or leave)
Sometimes you need to take action.

 
At 7/29/10, 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

summer morons.watch you wont see him in winter during a NW swell.he will playing local up in the ski slopes by then.

 
At 7/29/10, 7:18 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

The dude grew up surfing that break and surfs it all year. But if you'd like to come test him, be my guest.

 
At 7/30/10, 9:22 AM, Blogger Ria said...

Still remember the first time I met him...he yelled at me to surf near him where the peak was, I still considered myself a newbie and I always surfed away from everyone else. He must've noticed that it was time for me to surf with the big boys. Had a great session surfing with him...

 
At 7/30/10, 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that your board he is holding? If so, nice ride. Who's the shaper? Sort of has a Michel Junod vibe about it. BTW...there's nothing like a forceful explanation of surf etiquette by an entrenched "local" to get the point across. Ironically, after spending many years traveling the globe for surf, the most blatant and childish locals seem to be in my own backyard. Keep working on the basics, smile in the lineup, and good things usually come your way. ~Hamz

 
At 7/30/10, 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a couple guys like that and I guess they are needed at times, especially summer. Paddling around with a pissed off look on their faces, ready to challenge anyone who gets out of line... But why even be out there if you're going to be angry all the time? Been surfing since 1979 and surf purely for enjoyment, not for confrontation. Really enjoy your blog by the way.

 
At 7/30/10, 12:36 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

That's is my board. It's an Almond Surf Thump. The shaper and his shop are in Newport Beach.

I, for one, don't actually like the vibe that comes with regulating. However, it does have its place. I'm one to just shut up and surf. I try not to bother other people and expect the same. Still, didn't a guy paddle out today and sit right inside me? It wasn't even crowded!!!! WTF? It's that kind of thing that regulating cuts down on. I know one of the other regulators has a thing about that. Don't paddle for his wave (especially since he does use etiquette) and don't get in his way. If you do, Lord help you! I needed him out there today.

 
At 7/30/10, 1:57 PM, Blogger hungrybird said...

I see the role of regulator as one of etiquette and safety monitor. Sometimes a gentle reminder with a smile to share the waves works, sometimes not. At this same home break when I was first learning how to surf I dropped in on someone without looking. The guy was very nice about it, paddling over to explain that he had almost brained me. He was so kind, when he had every right to holler. Now that I think on it, I've been a little sweet on him ever since that incident.

 
At 7/30/10, 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with an earlier comment. I'm going to enjoy my session more if i just let things go. And like Hungrybird I wish being kind would work on everyone.
But i'm super-grateful for regulators who take a shit-fit when etiquette is broken. It keeps both the beginners and greedy in check.
BTW been reading your blog for a while (from the east coast). Not much different on our shores. Little warmer in the summer, colder in the winter. Don't want to hear about wave quality. Great writing!

 
At 7/30/10, 6:35 PM, Blogger Christian said...

I tried to regulate once when some idiot dropped in on me. We got into it on the beach and I thought it was settled until she sucker punched me and I went down. Twelve year old girls are tougher than I thought.

 
At 7/30/10, 6:36 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

Ha ha!!! Now that was funny!

 
At 7/31/10, 11:02 AM, Blogger P.O.P. Surfer said...

Hey, I thought I was the guy...WTF?
At least I'm not regulatin' while pushing a
stroller.

 
At 7/31/10, 12:35 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

P.O.P., you are definitely a regulator. Definitely! But the man in the picture, as you know, just instills fear whether you're facing him or looking at him from behind. You, my dear, don't instill fear until someone does something stupid in the water. Of course, once that happens, your fury is as lethal as his, isn't it? I'm glad you like me too! ;-)

 
At 8/9/10, 9:31 AM, Blogger gracefullee said...

My favorite is when he calls newbies onto waves that are totally closing out. I fell for that once in the beginning. Once. Now he expects me to make the good waves he calls. The pressure is worse now!

 

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