Current restrictions confine fibreglass boards to the southern end of the Sydney beach. Softer foam boards popular among novice surfers and children are allowed anywhere, other than inside the flags – a lifesaver-supervised area designated for swimmers.
But Waverley Council, the local government with authority over the beach, is canvassing feedback from residents on a plan to abolish the distinction between hard and soft boards, and instead categorise them as “simply fin or no fin”.
This would force all surfers to the southern end of the 900-metre-long beach, where waves are usually bigger and dangerous rip tides more frequent.
Between 50 and 300 people surf Bondi each day, according to the council, with 84% of people in the ocean using the beach outside the flagged area.
In the warmer months the iconic shoreline draws thousands of people.
The council says the change would reduce the risk of people swimming between the flags being hit by a surf craft with fins. But it notes the change would increase surfer congestion and heighten the risk of injury outside the flags.
Surfers slammed the proposal, saying it would crowd too many surfers as well as users of other craft into too small an area, notably creating hazards for novices.
“If they agree with the proposal, there will be nowhere for our kids to learn about the ocean other than sticking them with hundreds of surfers on glass boards with kooks mowing them down,” Bondi Boardriders posted on Facebook Tuesday (July 17).
Waverley council on Wednesday (July 18) called for calm, saying there were no plans to ban surfing on the beach.
“At this stage, we are only seeking feedback and no decision has been made,” it said in a statement.