Safe Surfin' at Stinson
By John Geluardi
Some SoCal surfers are scoffing at the 10-day closure of NorCal's Stinson Beach that lasted through Labor Day weekend just because a couple of sex waxers said they saw a shark... or something.
It’s impossible, SoCal board rats say, to keep surfers out of the water off southern California just because somebody spots a bloodthirsty, man-eating predator. In fact, after a fatal shark attack off Solana Beach last April, the beaches were officially closed. But the very next day, local surfers were back riding the waves.
Longtime SoCal Kevin O’Sullivan, a screenwriter who authored the surf fashion book Goin' Big, says to local surfers a “beach closed” sign just means fewer people will be competing for waves. “It’s kinda like the ‘mandatory evacuation’ of New Orleans, they’re really just asking, and if you ignore them, they can’t arrest you,” O’Sullivan says. “It’s really hard to keep people out of the water down here. If there are waves, people are going to want to ride ‘em.”
Golden Gate National Park authorities reopened Stinson Beach today after closing it down on Sunday, Aug. 24 when a “surfer” and a former lifeguard spotted what looked like great white shark about 125 yards offshore. The beach remained closed 10 days instead of usual five because a few days after the original sighting, a local fisherman claimed to have seen a shiny, grey object in the same general area.
O’Sullivan says in SoCal shark sightings are usually ignored because local surfers who want the waves all to themselves are known to regularly make false reports to keep the weenies out of the water.
During the 10-day closure, beach-goers were allowed to wade in the surf up to their knees. Stinson Beach Life Guard Supervisor Scott Palmer says that no surfers tried to ride the waves. “If they did, we would have asked them to get out of the water,” Palmer says. “If they didn’t… we… uh… could have gotten a park ranger over here to give them a ticket for creating a dangerous situation.”
Palmer says he doesn’t know how the fine for a dangerous situation ticket is, but there’s not much chance a ticket would be necessary. “All you have to do is say ‘shark’ and people pretty much get out of the water,” Palmer says.
O’Sullivan gave props to other northern California surfers in Santa Cruz, San Francisco and points north of Stinson Beach in upscale Marin County. “Stinson isn’t really known as a surfing beach,” O’Sullivan says. “But Santa Cruz, that’s shark water, man. Basically anybody who surfs up there knows they’re in the playground of the Great White.”