Mavericks: Coast Guard Bans Spectator Boats From Waves

Categories: Sports
surfer_n_boat.png
Matt Smith
Like, a little space, dude
The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a special federal rule banning spectator boats from encroaching on giant waves during the annual Mavericks surfing  contest.

The new rule will let boats affiliated with the contest tow surfers toward big waves and cruise nearby in case contestants need rescuing. But onlookers must keep out of a 1,000-foot perimeter while the contest is on, according to the rule issued this week.

The question of how the Coast Guard would regulate watercraft at Mavericks has been debated among surfers since Jacob Trette was rescued by a tow-craft after nearly drowning under a 25-foot wave during the competition last month.

The new rule "helps the Coast Guard by removing some of the traffic," said agency spokesman Levi Read.

"We'll be close enough to assist when needed, so we can make  sure spectators are safe, surfers are safe, and those involved in the competition are safe," Read said.

Spectator safety became a concern at Mavericks a year ago when more than a dozen people were injured by a rogue wave that reached 40-feet inland, sending several people to the hospital with broken legs and arms. Contest officials, in cooperation with local agencies, banned spectators from vulnerable shore areas this year. The new Coast Guard rule takes that measure a step further, by banning lookie-loos from waves. Competition authorized boats, however, are all good.

"The vessels assisting the surfers, they're part of the competition, and they're aware of the conditions," Read said.

The rule's text follows:

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY 

Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 100 [Docket No. USCG-2010-1093] RIN 1625-AA08 Special Local Regulation; Mavericks Surf Competition, Half Moon Bay, CA AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS. ACTION: Temporary final rule. 
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SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary special local regulation on certain navigable waters of Half Moon Bay in support of the Mavericks Surf Competition. This special local regulation is necessary to ensure the safety of participants and spectators during the event. Entry into this zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port San Francisco, CA. DATES: This rule is effective from February 15, 2011 through February 28, 2011. ADDRESSES: Documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket are part of docket USCG-2010-1093 and are available online by going to http://www.regulations.gov, inserting USCG-2010-1093 in the ``Keyword'' box, and then clicking ``Search.'' They are also available for inspection or copying at the Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this temporary rule, call Lieutenant Junior Grade Liezl Nicholas at (415) 399-7436, or e-mail D11-PF-MarineEvents@uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone (202)366-9826. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulatory Information The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary final rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are ``impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.'' Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because immediate action is needed to provide for the safety of life and property on navigable waters. Because of the dangers posed by the surf conditions during the Mavericks Surf Competition, the special local regulation is necessary to provide for the safety of event participants, spectators, spectator craft, and other vessels transiting the event area. For the safety concerns noted, it is in the public interest to have these regulations in effect during the event. Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Any delay in the effective date of this rule would expose mariners to the dangers posed by the surf conditions during the Mavericks Surf Competition. Basis and Purpose The Mavericks Surf Competition is a one day ``Big Wave'' surfing competition consisting of the top 24 big wave surfers and only occurs when 15-20 foot waves are sustained for over 24 hours and are combined with mild easterly winds of no more than 5-10 knots. Because weather conditions are integral to the occurrence of the Maverick Surf Competition, the exact date of the event cannot be determined in advance. The rock and reef ridges that make up the sea floor of the Pillar Point area combined with just the right weather conditions create the large waves that Mavericks is known for. Due to the treacherous terrain and un-navigable areas surrounding Pillar Point, the Coast Guard is establishing a special local regulation within a 1,000 yard radius of Pillar Point that restricts navigation near the surf competition area and neighboring treacherous terrain and identifies the safest area for spectator viewing on the water. Discussion of Rule The Coast Guard is establishing a special local regulation within a 1,000 yard radius of Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay. The Mavericks Surf Competition will occur in the vicinity of Pillar Point in the navigable waters of Half Moon Bay, and the spectator viewing area will be located inside the following coordinates: 37[deg]29.265' N 122[deg]30.165' W, 37[deg]29.248' N 122[deg]29.978' W, and 37[deg]29.406' N 122[deg]30.081' W (NAD 83). Competitors, participating agencies (Coast Guard, San Mateo Police Marine Patrol, Pillar Point Harbor Patrol, San Mateo Fire Marine Patrol) and the public (to include but not restricted to: Commercial sightseeing vessels, photographer platforms and recreational boaters) will be given 48 hours notice prior to the start of the one day competition. This action is necessary to ensure the safety of participants and spectators during the event. During the enforcement period, unauthorized persons (persons not classified as spectators, participants or participating agencies) or vessels are prohibited from transiting through, anchoring, blocking, or loitering in the regulated area without permission of the Captain of the Port (COTP) or their designated representative. The effect of the temporary special local regulation will be to regulate navigation in the vicinity of Pillar Point while the Mavericks Surf Competition is taking place. Except for persons or vessels authorized by the Coast Guard Patrol Commander (persons classified as spectators, participants or participating agencies), no person or vessel may transit within the bounds of the regulated area. These regulations are needed to keep spectators and vessels a safe distance away from the event participants and the un-navigable waters surrounding Pillar Point and to ensure the safety of participants, spectators, and transiting vessels. The Coast Guard will enforce the temporary special local regulation from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on a date to be determined. Notification of the enforcement of the special local regulation will be provided to the public via broadcast notice to mariners, as well as through advertising on local media. Regulatory Analyses We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on 13 of these statutes or executive orders. Regulatory Planning and Review This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of that Order. The Office of Management and [[Page 8652]] Budget has not reviewed it under that Order. Although this rule regulates navigation in the waters encompassed by the regulated area, the effect of this rule will not be significant. The entities most likely to be affected are pleasure craft engaged in recreational activities. In addition, the rule will only regulate navigation for a limited time. Finally, the Public Broadcast Notice to Mariners will notify the users of local waterway to ensure that the regulated area will result in minimum impact. Small Entities Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term ``small entities'' comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule will affect the following entities, some of which may be small entities: owners and operators of pleasure craft engaged in recreational activities and sightseeing intending to transit the area during the period of enforcement. This rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for several reasons: (i) This rule will encompass only a small portion of the waterway for a limited period of time; (ii) vessel traffic can pass safely around the area; (iii) vessels engaged in recreational activities and sightseeing have ample space outside of the affected areas of Half Moon Bay, CA to engage in these activities; and (iv) the maritime public will be advised in advance of this regulated area via Broadcast Notice to Mariners.


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