Surfing Outside the Flags in Harvey Cedars
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[If you live or vacation in Harvey Cedars please indicate that in the notes section.]
We request that Harvey Cedars remove the restriction and allow surfing outside of the designated swimming areas during guarded hours. We acknowledge that surfers would be surfing at their own risk.
At this point, every mayor in every municipality on Long Beach Island besides Harvey Cedars has listened to the advice of their senior lifeguard and decided that surfing outside the flags during guarded hours is perfectly fine. To arrive at this decision, they analyzed 10 years of data and facts from Ship Bottom and other areas regarding ocean safety and liability issues and found that it simply has had no ill effects. I think we can all agree that if surfing outside the flags had any negative impact on these municipalities that the mayors would have had to ban it -- and they haven't.
We are asking Mayor Oldham to please speak with his LBI counterparts regarding this issue so he can inform the Harvey Cedars surfing community as to any issues he uncovers that would preclude him from removing this restriction in Harvey Cedars.
We need to look to neighboring municipalities because that is where the data resides. Harvey Cedars has little or no empirical data on this. While our guards are probably the best on the island, they don't have extensive first hand experience guarding beaches with outside the flag surfers.
According to Thomas Smith, the senior lifeguard lieutenant in Ship Bottom, "We allow surfing outside the swimming areas on our beaches and have done so for over 10 years with no problems". There can be no stronger argument.
The current unofficial rule in Harvey Cedars seems to be (although it's kind of secret and no one is sure of this) that when conditions are "good", that the guards will let you surf. I have been surfing twice this week and was called out at 10:03 am while I was surfing what I call "good" waves. And that was with no swimmers in the water or people on the beach. The definition of what is "good" is one thing if you are a parent trying to teach your 10 year old how to surf versus if you are an advanced surfer. So I think most reasonable fact based people would conclude that a daily call on what is "good" has not worked and can't possibly work. The end result is no one surfs during guarded hours even on an average rideable day because they are tired of being rejected on a regular basis (speaking from personal experience).
Positive safety aspects include relieving the crowded and therefore unsafe conditions at Hudson, Harvey Cedars' only surfing beach. In addition, it is well-documented that surfers frequently assist in water rescues in hazardous conditions. Surfing is a healthy, multi-generational family activity and it is practiced on an increasing basis yearly. This is a great way to maximize the public's use of the beach and surf zone and acknowledge over a century of wave-riding tradition on the NJ coast.
Surf City surfers started a similar petition in June of this year and it very quickly had over 1,000 signatures. It was delivered to Mayor Hodgson and Surf City approved surfing outside the flags in time for the summer 2017 season.
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