Sunny Garcia is a six-time Triple Crown of Surfing champion. But he wasn't riding the waves on the North Shore Wednesday. Instead, he and other pro surfers found themselves in a drab hearing room, asking the city not to change the rules on how the city issues permits for surf contests.
"We're here to represent the local community and not the corporate world," Garcia said.
Among other things, the new rules would favor surf contests that donate more money to North Shore non-profit groups. The more money a contest organizer can donate, the more points they would be awarded toward getting a permit.
"I don't think them saying they're bringing in all this money should have precedence to the local community wanting to have some surf events, or boogie board or body surf, or any events on the North Shore, for that matter," said Garcia.
"The tourists come no matter what," said Eddie Rothman, founder of Da Hui. "This pretense of bringing all this money into the North Shore because of the contest. They come because of the big waves."
On the other side of the debate is Randy Rarick, longtime Triple Crown executive director and Hawaii regional director of the Association of Surfing Professionals. Rarick said the proposed rules are fair and needed, since the city will only allow 64 competition days per year on the North Shore, and more groups are vying for them.
"We've been running the Triple Crown events for over 30 years and they're the top professional events. But on the other side of the coin there the amateur events, like the Menehune events at Haleiwa, for instance. And in between there's everything else," said Rarick.
"So really what this is, is leveling the playing field, making it fair, and somehow balancing who gets the permits, and that's the biggest beef because there's more applicants than there are spots available," he said.
Rarick has been instrumental in drafting the rules over the years. Some contend he may have too much influence.
"The calendar is predominantly surfing dominated, and right now, ASP pretty much controls it," said Alan Lennard of the North Shore Bodysurfing Club.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department is still taking written testimony through next week Wednesday. If adopted, the amended rules probably won't take effect until after the next North Shore surf season.
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