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    Default Australian surfers told: Dudes, chill out

    Them Crazy Auzzies are at it again.

    Australian surfers told: Dudes, chill out

    JAMIE TARABAY Canadian Press Monday, November 10, 2003

    SYDNEY (AP) - Three years ago, the savage beating of a national wave-riding champion shattered the image of laid-back camaraderie on Australia's beaches and alerted the country to an unlikely phenomenon - surf rage.

    Battles over the best swells have become so bad that surfers have come up with a code of ethics on the do's and don'ts of surfing, to be posted at beaches. The Surfrider Foundation Australia is taking legal advice and warning that police may soon begin patrolling the ocean unless surfers can put a stop to the violence. Its code will outline etiquette such as how two surfers can agree on riding the same wave.

    "It's very important we address this in a self-regulatory way," said Don Osborne, a delegate of the surfing foundation. "If we don't, the authorities will step in and create a legal structure for the surf. We could have police on jet skis, and how bad would that be? It's just not what surfing's about, it's meant to be a mellow thing."

    Most rage incidents erupt when local surfers resort to violence to protect their waves from visitors.

    The problem was transported off the beach and into tabloid territory in 2000, when photos of a battered and bruised Nat Young, the 1960s wave-riding champion, were splashed across the pages of Australia's papers.

    He was severely beaten by a fellow surfer while they rode the waves at Angourie, near the Gold Coast on Australia's eastern coast. That prompted the surfers' foundation to take action, framing the code of ethics to educate wave riders, young and old.

    "The unwritten law needed to be written," the foundation's Stuart Ball told The Associated Press. "It happens because people don't understand the rules."

    "The issue has come to the fore now because it's getting more crowded, old surfers like me don't retire," said Ball, 47, a surfer for 36 years.

    The surging number of tourists visiting Australia means there has never been so much competition to get on waves at popular beaches.

    Points in the code of ethics include not trying to catch a wave if another surfer is already riding it, and if two surfers are paddling for the same wave, they should tell one another whether they will go left or right so they can share the wave.

    On the Net: surfrider.org.au/

    © Copyright 2003 The Canadian Press
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