Surfers across the country are lauding and standing by Surfing South Africa’s decision to submit a document to government, appealing for ocean sports to be permitted under lockdown. The document was submitted by the surfing body’s Board of Directors earlier this week.
Surfing South Africa is a member of the South African Sports Council Olympic Committee (SASCOC), as well as the International Surfing Association. It is also a partner of the World Surf League (WSL).
As of May 1, those who wished to exercise were granted permission to do so between 6am and 9am. This includes activities such as walking, jogging and cycling, but does not include water sports. Strict social distancing requirements are meant to be maintained during the exercise period, but many pictures and videos have shown how crowded popular jogging areas such as the Sea Point Promenade become during this period. As a result, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has appealed to government to have the exercise period extended.
On May 1, surfers gathered on beaches to enjoy their morning exercise, but soon found out they are not allowed into the waters. It is reported that 30 surfers narrowly dodged fines as a result.
On May 5, surfers and other water sports enthusiasts in Cape Town gathered at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg as a call for government to open beaches and oceans up to exercise. Two surfers were arrested during the protest for contravention of the National Disaster’s Risk Management Act. Some surfers also reported having been intimidated by police during the peaceful protest.
Surfing South Africa covers umbrellas such as surfing, longboard surfing, kneeboarding, SUPing and para-surfing.
The body believes that those who partake in ocean sports must be afforded the same opportunity to exercise as those who engage in activities such as jogging and cycling. According to the document of appeal, those who engage in water sports do not usually congregate in groups and involve no physical contact with others.
The document also suggests that if government notices overcrowding on a beach where water sports enthusiasts gather, it could simply close the beach. It also sets out measures for surfers to conduct themselves by when at or on their way to beaches. These include not loitering on beaches, wearing a mask until they enter the water, and must follow equipment cleaning protocols.