Waves are a finite resource and local attorney Timothy Mac Master believes standup surfers are getting more than their fair share.
"They can literally get into a wave 20 yards before someone on a shorter board or before a body surfer or a body boarder can be physically propelled by that wave," Mac Master told KITV4. "On days when the waves are few and far between, we can have the SUPs claiming 75 or 80 percent of the best waves. It is just not fair to everyone else in the water."
Mac Master created SafeSurfHawaii.com to educate fellow wave riders about a one year pilot project that would ban standup surfers from the lineup at Ala Moana 18 hours per week. Under his proposal, SUP riders would be barred from Magic Island to Kewalo Basin on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from three in the afternoon until nine at night. Mac Master says many standup surfers are courteous, but the sheer popularity of the new sport is creating unsafe situations.
"In general SUPs tend to be larger and less maneuverable and they are dangerous, especially in crowded situations," said the attorney, who has been surfing since he moved to Hawaii in 1989.
Although Mac Master's proposal is far from becoming an actual rule, the Department of Land and Natural Resources was forced to respond to his call for public comment, and has scheduled a public forum later this month.
"The department was asked by Safe Surf Hawaii to solicit comments from the general public and gauge acceptance of this plan to limit use of SUPs in this waterway," William Aila, DLNR chairperson, said in a news release. "If the concept gains wide support, the department may consider rule-making as a way to formalize the plan. However, the support would need to be nearly unanimous among all users."
Mac Master is hoping surfers, no matter what type of board they ride, will attend the meeting to foster further debate and discussion on the issue. The public forum is scheduled on Wednesday, Aug. 27 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Jefferson Elementary School cafeteria. The school is located at 342 Kapahulu Ave. in Waikiki.
"DLNR is not proposing anything at this point," said Mac Master. "They have merely scheduled a meeting so that the public can come forward and have public input on the issues."