Wayne ‘Crouch’ McCleary with a longboard snapped at The Pass, one of many damaged in recent big surf at The Pass. He has called on inexperienced surfers to bypass the popular spot.
Wayne ‘Crouch’ McCleary with a longboard snapped at The Pass, one of many damaged in recent big surf at The Pass. He has called on inexperienced surfers to bypass the popular spot.

‘Incompetent’ surfers create havoc at Pass

HE'S surfed all over the world, but Frenchman Tristan Mausse has never seen crowds like those he has encountered at The Pass at Byron Bay.

And last week Tristan, who is calling Byron Bay ‘home’ for the moment, found out what can happen when the surf is pumping and the break is packed.

 He was hit in the head by a surfboard which was let go by an inexperienced surfer attempting to duck-dive under a wave.

The impact left Tristan with a nasty gash on the left side of his face above his eye and he left the water with blood streaming from the wound.

“It’s very good surf, but very dangerous,” said Tristan, who patched up the wound himself.

His friend, Evan Squirrell, who manages North Coast Surfboards and who has surfed at The Pass for many years, also got hit by a board at The Pass last week.

A fin hit him on the back of the leg, but luckily it didn’t break the skin.

“I have seen heaps of stuff like that out there,” he said.

“There are heaps of people going out who are incompetent and shouldn’t be there.

“They are not the type of waves where you are learning to try and turn a board.

“It’s really fast and shallow and really for people who know what they are doing.

“There seem to be a lot of incompetent people out there.

“The number one rule in surfing is never let go of your board – ever.”

Evan said that it wasn’t possible to stop inexperienced people surfing wherever they wanted to, it was more about educating novices about safe surfing practices.

It was a sentiment supported by former Australian and State longboard champion, Wayne ‘Crouch’ McCleary, who has been surfing for 44 years and who has lived at Byron Bay for the last 12 years.

‘Crouch’ said he counted 300 surfers in the water at The Pass last Sunday week, so he went to Snapper on the Gold Coast ‘where there were only 200’.

He said there was always an ‘easy’ 200 surfers in the water when The Pass was working, most of them congested around the point.

‘Crouch’ said he had heard of many surfers hit by boards at The Pass in recent weeks and many boards had been damaged or snapped in two.

More than 20 damaged surfboards had been taken to Brett Munro Surfboards at the Byron Bay Arts and Industry Estate alone in just a week to be repaired, he said.

Normally it was only about five a week.

‘Crouch’ said most of the problems at The Pass were created by inexperienced or learner surfers.
“It’s like a racetrack out there,” he said.

“You wouldn’t drive your car at Daytona if you weren’t experienced.

“It’s been a good solid five and six feet and it’s just carnage out there.

“It’s bloody dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.

“A good surfer can surf around people, not over them.”

‘Crouch’ said learners should be encouraged to surf at beach breaks where it was less crowded and should be made aware of the rules of surfing.

He said all surfers should obey the golden rule of hanging on to their boards and if you did hit someone in the surf, check to make sure they were OK and apologise.

“A board can be repaired, or replaced,” he said.

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