WATCH: Darren Handley Flips Jet Ski at Maxing Kirra

Matt Rott

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Updated 30d ago

The big news in swells this week has been the cyclone impacting Australia’s east coast (see HERE). Spots from the Sunshine Coast down through central NSW have been pumping, but most of the video we have seen has been from the stretch of sand between Snapper Rocks and Kirra.

The Superbank is consistently one of the most crowded lineups in the world, and this week was no different. As the swell filled in, the Superbank was shoulder-to-shoulder surfers for nearly two kilometers. And even when the waves got bigger and more difficult to catch, there were guys paddling and making mental ones.

Don’t quit your day job @dhdsurf

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There were also jet skis in the lineup, with a handful of locals and pros (and local pros) doing stepoffs amongst the crowd. And as always happens when skis mix with paddlers, there has been a fair share of outrage on the Gold Coast—especially when video dropped of DHD shaper Darren Handley clowning in the lineup on his ski.

Now, it is general knowledge on the Gold Coast that jet skis have to stay below six knots if they are within 60 metres of a person or other vessel, and stay at least 200 metres away from swimmers and surfers while engaging in towing. Yet every time the sandbars in Coolangatta hit the six-foot mark and the currents start raging, this same situation seems to play itself out.

I had a chat with Greg Long a couple of days ago about towing and stepoffs. This was before the shit hit the fan on the Gold Coast, but in the backs of our minds we probably knew what was coming.

I’ve never been a big fan of towing, and was joking with Greg and telling him that I towed my first wave a couple of months ago—a shoulder-high closeout—and felt extremely guilty for the rest of the week. His response reflected his general approach to tow surfing over the past two decades: “As long as there is no one else around…”

This is a sentiment that most big wave crew agree on, but it seems the unspoken rules (and even the posted ones) are often thrown out the window when it comes to using ski assist in medium-sized barrels over ripped-out sandbars.

I’m not a Coolangatta local, so it probably isn’t my place to criticise or cast judgment. But I have friends on the Gold Coast, and from what I hear, a lot of people are pissed off right now. And that’s something to take into consideration—especially when the people who are pissed have the law on their side.

But there are bigger issues at play here, because it doesn’t take much for someone to get seriously hurt or even killed when skis are going over the falls in crowded lineups. Hopefully the various surf communities around the world can find a way to work this issue out before something like that happens.

Cover shot by Happily Stoked

Matt Rott

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