Potential rule changes fuel North Shore surf contest battle

Each year, about 24 surfing competitions crowd out the most popular surf spots on Oahu’s North Shore.

On Monday morning, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation released new proposed rules for permits granted to contest organizers, hoping to create a balance between the amateurs and professionals.

“Lot of us from both sides and from different disciplines worked on these rules and I’m fairly happy with the end result,” Triple Crown of Surfing Executive Director Randy Rarick said.

Of special interest is the city’s proposal to resolve scheduling conflicts. Each year, surf events will be allowed from Sept. 1 through May 31.

A panel of city employees will review applications, and if there is a conflict, the dispute will be settled based on the number of points awarded on several criteria including:

  • Gender diversity, whether there are separate divisions for males and females, or mixed competition.
  • Whether the organizers have contributed a service to the community, like a beach clean-up, and donations to the community.
  • The more you give in cash and in kind contributions, the more points you get.

Rarick says if people feel that is off-balance, in favor of the deep-pocket sponsors of professional events, they need to consider what those events mean for Hawaii.

“The professional events bring a lot of exposure to Hawaii and brings a lot of revenue because of the professional events,” Rarick said.

Gil Riviere represents the people who just want to surf for fun and says the process to resolve conflicts needs more work.

“That’s going to need some refining and it may be difficult to implement,” said Riviere, Let’s Surf Coalition president.

Under the proposed rules, there would be no more than 64 days of surf competition, including holding days.

If you’d like to take a closer look at the proposed rules, click here.

The hearing on the proposed changes to the rules will be held in March at Honolulu Hale.

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