Federal officials are no longer willing to allow surfers competing in November’s Rip Curl Pro Search contest at Ocean Beach to be towed in by personal watercraft, reversing an earlier understanding.
The National Park Service had initially told event planners that they would create an exception to a law banning such vessels from national parks as a safety precaution for surfers catching waves larger than 10 feet at the contest, which is slated for Nov. 1-11.
But after further review, officials determined that the beach’s own personal watercraft-equipped lifeguards could provide adequate safety without bending the law.
“They said that this was going to be for public safety,” said parks spokesman George Durgerian. “The more we thought about it, the more we realized it was actually for convenience.”
He said that if the park loosened its standards for the surf contest, it could set a precedent for watercraft use at future events, including the 2013 America’s Cup yacht races.
Personal watercraft are banned in national parks due to concerns about pollution and the safety of aquatic life. Some two-stroke engines of the type used in personal watercraft can discharge as much as 30 percent of their fuel into the water.
Dave Prodan, media director for the Association of Surfing Professionals, said he was disappointed with the decision. He said that while such vehicles speed up the pace of surfing contests and make them more spectator-friendly, organizers can’t be too cautious in a sport that defines itself by pushing boundaries.
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/09/san-francisco-parks-officials-change-rules-ocean-beach-surf-competition#.TnnRCpOlvgY.email#ixzz1Yba8Pz4b