Locals unite to make the surf safe and enjoyable for all

Surfers new to Raglan are about to get an education in surf etiquette with proposed signs at Ngaranui Beach, Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators.

The Whaingaroa Raglan Surf Management Committee formed in July last year have put together a set of rules to help locals and newcomers ride the waves safely.

Raglan Surf Co owner Luke Hughes, Solscape’s Phil McCabe, Surf Safe head coach and owner Stephen Freeman, Indis café owner and surf coach Miles Ratima and Maioha Kelly have spearheaded the sign design and message, and are now looking for funding for the $10,000 graffiti-proof signs.

Luke says the thrust of the signs is to get surfers riding the waves in the areas that best suit their skill set and educating them on the unofficial rules of surfing.

“There’s so many more people out here surfing now that it’s starting to become an unsafe environment.”

Recent media attention around a surf rage incident reported to Raglan Notice Board’s Facebook page has emphasised the frustrations experienced in the surf.

The surfing incident left an experienced overseas surfer with stitches under his right arm after a Raglan resident collided with him during a morning surf.

The committee believe installing the signs are proof the local surf community want to take a proactive approach to the issue of overcrowding in the surf.

The surf rules outlined on the signs are universal and Luke says no matter where the surf tourist is from the same rules apply.

The signs use these rules with accompanying visuals and also match the surfers level of mastery with the location. Beginners are advised to surf the Ngaranui Beach breaks and take surf school lessons while the Raglan point breaks are recommended for intermediate to expert level and advises surfers to seek local knowledge.

“If you’re told by some of the older respected surfers who helped pioneer surfing in Raglan that you need to get out of the line-up you do as you’re told, but a tourist isn’t going to know who these guys are,” Luke says.

“They’re going to think he’s just some grumpy old guy who can’t get a wave.”

Luke says the signs will help back up what the local surfers are already trying to get across in sometimes volatile and dangerous situations, and hopes to avoid the heavy-handedness of the old school approach to surf enforcement.

“If you surf in Hawai’i you don’t get a second chance – you get told once to go in and you go in.”

The group have adapted signs used at Sydney’s Randwick City Council beaches to suit Raglan’s unique surfing environment.

Luke firmly believes the signs are an effective way to inform newcomers of Raglan’s surf environment and hopes they will alleviate some of the frustration felt by local surfers.

“You can’t tell people what to do but the signs are hopefully there to help people figure out for themselves what they should do.”

Plans are now in place to start crowdfunding for the signs and Luke says they are keen to hear from any businesses or individuals wanting to support surfing in Raglan.

Janine Jackson

Pictured above: Manu Bay, 1963 – Mike Court.