Surf Nazis in the Naki

Somehow you just don’t expect those spiritual swell searchers – the average modern surfer - to be such macho territorial dickheads. It just doesn’t seem to go with all that hemp and natural food. You’d expect more love and equality a little respect even: a deeply shared masochistic passion for a stretch of water that can either take you for a very good ride or give you the thrashing of your life. Not so. I guess the ocean is a little hard to go around marking territory by peeing on your turf but the Coastal Boardriders of Taranaki have gone and given it a bloody good go. The Association of Surfing Professionals Top women surfers are competing in Taranaki this week – home town to one of New Zealand’s most promising young female surfers Paige Hareb. It must be fairly embarrassing to invite the top international professionals in your field back to your place to compete and then have your guests called ‘rapists’ by the boys back home. My heart would go out to Paige if I weren’t already convinced that somewhere in her recent history she’d outclassed some of the perturbed protestors in the water and that they might still be smarting. Worried about their surf break becoming popular on the international circuit and thereby losing some of its exclusivity, some surf Nazis have gone about sabotaging billboards and pouring chemicals on the grass in a very eco unfriendly attempt at drawing attention to the possible damage to the environment that could be caused by Taranaki becoming an international surf mecca. I guess logic is not a surfer’s strong point. I find it interesting though that it’s the women’s international competition that has caused such a reaction. I don’t recall any Raglan surfers getting upset when Ben Harper and Jack Johnson started surfing at their local beach, even reportedly buying land there - and I’m wondering if it was perhaps that they are just intrinsically cool - or because they had willies. Hard to say. If the surf punks were really worried about the possible environmental degradation that could potentially happen then surely they should be taking their concerns over infrastructure and the provision of adequate toilets etc to the council rather than taking it out on the girls and threatening to wreck the show. They should also have been protesting about events like Womad too – but I bet they weren’t.

It’s not like the girls, as professional athletes, really get a decent bite at the big apples of advertising deals and sponsorship like the blokes do. Except that is, in the glamour sports like surfing. Surfing is one of those areas in which young kiwi women could do really well internationally but we have traditionally lacked the role models and scaffolding of world class events where young athletes get to see the pros doing their stuff and become inspired. Lets face it – it’s pretty hard to be a professional woman athlete in New Zealand. Become an All Black – get paid millions – become a Silver Fern, hold on to your retainer of 12K collect 50K if you’re really special and go and get a part time job. Susan Devoy had to win 4 World Opens and they were only held biannually. Then she went and took out 8 British Opens and only then did she get the backing of a vitamin company. I didn’t see Susan carousing with taxi boys or madly texting Texan strippers and Nike still didn’t come calling. How many world cups did Daniel Carter bring home before that undie company was after him? You don’t even have to be pretty like Danny. That French rugby player who looks like the 4th figure on those high school evolutionary theory charts that go from fish to man in 7 easy steps – has managed to score himself a pretty tight deal with Rebel Sports for his shaggy style.

Surfing is one area where for women the sport and the big money combine. All I’m saying to the surf Nazis in the ‘naki is this : loosen the board shorts and live a little. Let the girls have a go.

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