Fight The Good Fight
Maui's famed Honolua Bay and Rhode Island's sacred Ruggles are safe—at least for now
The fight to protect our favorite breaks, a confrontation with a group of sunburned solipsists on one side and big money power brokers on the other, has raged for decades and has no end in sight. As soon as one spot is saved or destroyed, another is targeted, with the justifying motives always boiling down to either profit or “progress.”
Surfing may be a multi-billion dollar industry, featuring a lifestyle that is marketed the world over, but when push comes to shove, and real money enters the picture, we’re reminded that little has changed since the days when surfers were reviled as status dropout castaways, little more than mooneyed children decrying their parents' wealth while still suckling from its teat. To expect our team to win without a knockdown, drag out fight is naive, at best.
Be this as it may, it’s nice to win once in a while, and twice in a row is delightful. Honolua Bay is safe indefinitely. The land surrounding the barreling right-hander has been purchased by the state of Hawaii and designated conservation lands, preserving access to the public, and ensuring that threat of development is a thing of the past (or at least until the political winds shift). Ruggles, slated to be ruined to refurbish a walking path, is also safe for now. The initial plans—including the use of armour stone and jetties to build a permanent protection of the famous “Cliff Walk” that overlooks the reef—have been scaled back, meaning that the wave is fine, though future feeble-bodied ocean gazers will still run the risk of an unexpected cliff side plummet. (Although it pains me to be cynical in the face of victory, methinks this is a battle that will need to be refought in a few decades.)
Before we stop to bask in the glow of our self-congratulation, let’s take a moment to remember the ones we’ve lost:
From Long Beach Flood Control, killed during a WW2 harbor expansion, to Corona Del Mar, dredged into ruin. Killer Dana was silenced so the rich would have a safe place to store their little boats, and Stanley's Reef met its demise at the hands of PCH. Harry’s, in Baja, lies buried beneath tons of rubble, and San Mateo, in Ecuador, has been ruined by yet another damn harbor. France’s La Barre was choked to death by jetties; and those filthy little rock fingers also helped destroy El Porto. The white sand beaches of Waikiki, dumped ashore to create a playground for GIs, forever changed the face of Oahu’s south shore. Even Cape St. Francis, that flickering dream created by Bruce Brown’s storytelling, lies weak and decrepit, transformed into mushy beginner hell by rampant construction. These are just a few in a long list of lost resources, monuments to myopic greed.
And others remain in danger: Los Cabos, Freshwater Bay, Aramoana, Rabo de Peixe, and Punta Colorada are on the chopping block, and without a lot of luck, and even more effort, will likely be destroyed.
The lesson here is this: If we’re to ensure that our awesome little oceanic playgrounds remain safe for the future, we have a straightforward, though arduous task. We can never stop screaming nor let our diligence waver. The second we do, the vultures will descend, stripping bare everything we hold dear in yet another stunning display of callous disregard.
—For more information, and to join the Surfrider Foundation, please head over to surfrider.org