13
May

Thoughts from the National Director

IMPORTANT THESE ARE MY OWN PERSONAL THOUGHTS – Not a direct request from CSUK but I think our behaviour should be ‘Sensitive, cautious, and with prayer’

SURFING – A New Dawn in this time of COVID-19 Pandemic?
English beaches opened for surfing and to the masses? Caution and Sensitivity.

To start with, the reason I am writing these words are not that my thoughts are any more important than anybody else’s, but quite a number of people have contacted me in the last 18 hours asking what they are, so I have summarised a few of my thoughts below. So the reality is that despite reading through the 50 pages of the government guidance document, and also the following frequently asked questions, and I can see nothing stopping people travelling as far as they want from Wednesday 13 May.

So, the beaches are open and for somebody like me in Bristol there are no restrictions legally to stop me visiting every day, although clearly if I had a holiday home, I would not be allowed to visit that. People are also discouraged from staying over anywhere apart from their primary place of residence. So, I know my friends in Devon and Cornwall and probably on the East Coast are now very fearful that the masses will arrive and that may of course be true. However, this is where for me personally I want to throw a few ideas to consider before this happens.

I am an inland surfer, I have been most of my life, and these last seven weeks have been the longest time of not surfing since I took up this sport 40 years ago. I miss it massively, and sometimes psychologically it gets to me, especially when the surf is pumping and my eyes drifts from surf Webcam to surf Webcam (probably not the best idea). It is a way of life not just a sport.

So 15 min after these new set of guidelines were announced, rather than being really excited, I actually became really saddened and wanted to get off  social media as the battle to keep the sacred ground of beaches, and surf spots raged through all those platforms. On Sunday I was certainly not expecting the surfing gates to be opened with no restrictions, I was expecting as in France they would perhaps be a mileage limit i.e. 100kms, so certainly was not expecting to be able to go surfing. I read numerous posts from some very good friends in those coastal areas very, very concerned about what might happen and I fully get that (however I have also read one or two posts from people that are quite enjoying quiet waves, and even if it was delayed a year they would still be ranting, thankfully these are in the minority)

So, for what it’s worth and for those who live near the sea (and you can define ‘near’ yourself) if you want, go surfing, take all the precautions, being sensible, not sharing lifts (unless obviously from your own household) don’t congregate together once you are at the beach, keep the good hygiene regimes going, be very careful if you go into any shops or toilets (if in fact any are open) and get yourself home as soon as possible. If, however you like me live in an area I regard as a ‘long’ distance from the sea you indeed are also of course entitled to go, however perhaps I suggest you stop and think carefully before you set off.

Are there ways to minimise the exposure?
Can you go out into a sea at an antisocial time?
Can you go to a place that is sub optimal as far as waves are concerned, or at a state of the tide when there will be fewer people?

Or even perhaps minimise those trips to the sea, and wait it out for a week or two, or even until the next phase is announced. After all we have already waited seven weeks.
As I said my thoughts are no more important than anyone else’s, and many may disagree, which is fine, those of you who know me, know how much I care about this very special community and hate to see it in this state of unease. With regards to the inland surfers when they finally get to the coast, it’s worth bearing in mind that many of them, in fact, probably 98%  have done exactly the right thing over these last seven weeks, stayed at home and kept well away from the coast, whilst those fortunate enough to live close to the coast had the option of carrying on riding waves, although many chose not to.

So, I hope there is no animosity to those responsible surfers that have tried to do the right thing. It has not been easy for anyone.

With regards to my leadership of Christian Surfers UK, my thoughts are the same, and I think the words CAUTION and SENSITIVITY are at the forefront of our response.
It saddens me to see and read about the community I have served and will continue to serve for around 30 years at loggerheads with each other, and I hope and pray that once this is all over those wounds could be healed, but aware that could be dependent on how people respond during this phase. So be sensible, think about others as much as yourselves, think about what you write, as that may come back to bite you. My thoughts and prayers are for the surf community the surf schools, the surf shop owners, the surf clubs, surf coaches, contest organisers,surfing governing bodies, the lifeguards who currently have no work, and all those suffering financial or mental health issues in the surfing community, as a result of this pandemic.
We will get through this, keep supporting others, and investing in your community

So my friends take good care of yourselves, be sensible, think a bit more deeply before acting, and when I finally surf, and one day I will surf, don’t be surprised if I don’t hang around to chat, but get back in my van and drive back home. It is not that I am being grumpy, it is because I care about the community I have just visited.

God Bless & Take special
Phil

Caution & Sensitivity