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.