Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

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ajohnsen
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Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by ajohnsen » Mon Sep 12, 2011 1:18 pm

Out at Maroubra yesterday with two hundred of my best mates. Several of us skirting the edges of the flags. Mostly snagging lefts with the odd right, space permitting. I misjudged my first wave (honestly) and ended up just inside the flags (I know, inside is inside). A clubbie whistled me in. I waved and signaled that I understood and was paddling out of the flagged area. He whistled. I waved, again. And there he was, paddling out on his rescue board. I braced myself, even considering the emotional coaching method I'm using on my 4-year old daughter - "I can see that you're angry that I surfed into the flags. It was wrong of me. Sometimes I get I angry, too, when people do the wrong thing, but sometimes people make mistakes. Would you like a hug?" - but quickly rejected it.

"Didn't you hear me calling you in?"

"I heard you, but didn't realise you were calling me in."

"Well I was."

"I'm sorry about that. Was my first wave and I misjudged the flags."

"Can't you read a beach?"

Nuggety young man, all coiled spring just itching to have a go.

"Paddle right down the other end of the beach now."

I know when to keep my mouth shut, but I also know my rights so I stayed on the bank but stuck with the lefts.

His name's Josh, apparently, and is a local boy. He started lambasting everyone in the general vicinity, calling us turkeys and telling us to paddle to the other end of the beach otherwise we'd "be going home now!". A young bloke very reasonably suggested that there was no need to be so aggressive to which Josh responded, "Don't backchat or you'll be going home".

This was one hell of an angry young man who either didn't want to be working on a Sunday when there were waves, or the fact that non-locals were packing the place out. Actually, both.

I was tempted to ask him if this behaviour was part of his job description.

So here's my question: isn't it, potentially, a conflict of interest to have local surfers working as lifeguards at their own beach? They (can) use intimidation to have the added effect of putting people off surfing there; they look after their own; and (this is a chestnut) they can place the flags on the best bank.

I know there are heaps of decent clubbies out there who are also surfers, but Josh, in my opinion, is an argument for not employing local surfers as lifeguards, certainly not without psychologically profiling them first. Clearly, this guy was overstepping his authority and quite in awe of his ability to assert his power. He's not the only one.

An older clubbie, unfortunately, joined him in harassing and bullying and returned later on a jetski to continue it.

It's hard enough surfing Sydney's crowded beaches. People who abuse their authority, as Josh did, just make it really unpleasant.

Conflict of interest, or not?

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by Nick Carroll » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:53 pm

Are you talking about a council-employed professional lifeguard or an SLSC volunteer?

SLSC volunteers don't have legal power to move anyone anywhere on a beach -- they can only set up areas and guide people to those areas. Legal enforcement relies on police presence.

Council lifeguards have some powers of this kind but would normally not engage in intimidation of a member of the public seeing as how you also have some comeback through his employer. It sounds like you have some grounds for complaint and you should do so -- you may not be the only one who has complained about the individual and the council needs to know how its employees and/or subcontractors are conducting themselves in public.

Personally I reckon an experienced local surfer would be the best lifeguard/lifesaver on any given beach, provided he/she was acting in the public interest at all times -- which is explicit in both cases. The conflict of interest here would be with the job itself.

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by ajohnsen » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:03 pm

Hard to determine whether a volunteer or paid employee - I suspect the former.

I completely agree with your comment that an experienced local surfer brings something unique and valuable to the role. It was the behaviour of this one individual (and one other council employee who engaged in physically violent behaviour on a previous occasion) that got me thinking.

Previous experience suggests that most lifeguard/lifesavers give you the benefit of the doubt for a one-off transgression. Repeatedly ignoring their calls to stay out of the flagged area does, and should, end in further action.

Maroubra's not the only place with a reputation for violent and aggresive behaviour from locals, but it's a real concern to see that same behaviour moving into the area that is about the care and safety of all users of the beach.

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by alakaboo » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:29 pm

Was he a young (late 20s?) bloke with blond hair?
If so, he's a rolled-gold farkwit, and I'll happily put my name on any letter you write.

There's an old bloke who loves to get on the mike and tell people to move, when they're clearly sitting on the edge of the buffer zone and catching waves away from the flags. He's a bit annoying.

But this young fella, who seems to have only turned up in the last 6 months, is a power-hungry twat. I'm not a violent man by nature, but I'd happily make an exception in his case.

Don't think it's got anything to do with him being a surfer, he's just a wanker.

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by ajohnsen » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:43 pm

He was a pretty buffed and tanned bloke and probably in his 20s. Not sure about the hair, but yeah, I haven't seem him around much before. Full of attitude. I'm only a violent man inside my head and the stuff that I visited upon him leaves Peckinpah for dead.

As intimidating as he was, he was also a joke. A lot of eye-rolling afterwards. His behaviour actually served to unite.

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by Trev » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:29 pm

There are guys in the Tangents thread who'll laugh their heads off at this but I hate it when people abuse their authority like that in public. Occasionaly get myself into some seriously heavy situations because of it. More often than not as a bystander rather than the aggrieved one.
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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by No Pants Lance » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:53 pm

Volunteer lifesavers are in the traditional red and yellow. I guess that's the same all up and down the coast. Waverley lifeguards are in blue and cover Bondi, Tama and Bronte. Maroubra is controlled by Randwick council I think and imagine you can tell the difference clearly between the volunteer lifesavers and the lifeguards..

Anyway, that's the good thing about surfing Bondi I guess, as far as the clubbies and lifeguards go, there's always a camera in them, so no chance of any uppity behaviour there. No siree!
Smile, yer on Bondi rescue.

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by alakaboo » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:41 pm

ajohnsen wrote:He was a pretty buffed and tanned bloke and probably in his 20s. Not sure about the hair, but yeah, I haven't seem him around much before. Full of attitude. I'm only a violent man inside my head and the stuff that I visited upon him leaves Peckinpah for dead.

As intimidating as he was, he was also a joke. A lot of eye-rolling afterwards. His behaviour actually served to unite.
That's the bloke. I was one peak down...

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by Nick Carroll » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:59 pm

Volunteer patrols haven't yet begun on Australian beaches, so he would have been a council employed lifeguard.

Really: don't waste too much time here -- go and talk with someone at the council. Most lifeguards would be pissed off at this sort of thing.

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by steve shearer » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:34 pm

What about bringing a poison dart to the beach , maybe tipped with daytura or something.
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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by Beanpole » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:51 pm

Must have started recruiting Bra Boys :lol: :lol:

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by buzzy » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:21 am

I've never had any issues with Council lifeguards. Indeed, I've not really had any real "issues" with clubbies either (I was one myself once) but in summer I've had the occasional terse discussion with clubbies who want a buffer on their buffer for the flags, which annoys me no end. In the Eastern Suburbs half the clubbies are blow ins from elsewhere (England usually) trying to make new friends and get sex. No surf skills or knowledge, but they have a red and yellow cap!

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by Cookie » Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:40 pm

I know a few of the pro lifeguards for Warringah and most of them can surf rings around me. I doubt there would be many professional lifeguards who aren't competent surfers as you've got to be a very good swimmer and pretty handy on a rescue board to even have a shot at getting a job.

Like Boo said - its got nothing to do with him being a surfer and everything to do with him being a massive wanker.

A few independent complaints to council about his behaviour will sort him out very swiftly. Get writing!

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by chrisb » Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:49 pm

I agree that surfers generally make effective clubbies. They can empathise with both sides and act fairly.

However, the junior clubbies need more supervision as they can endanger lives when they are let loose in their surfboats. At Collaroy last weekend a surf boat came so close to wiping out one of the surfers that he was able to take the cap from a clubbie's head. The clubbie never did come back to retrieve it.. :)

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by ajohnsen » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:11 pm

Emailed both Maroubra SLSC and Randwick Council. Will post any response.

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by pridmore » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:13 pm

I was asked for a donation by the clubbies today and I just cant out of principle, the old surfers vs clubbies thing I guess...plus I had my board taken off me as a grom for surfing into the flags....but quickly snuck around the surf club and broke into the first aid room where it had been stored , back in the waves in about 15 mins.....good memories :)

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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by TMC » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:42 pm

pridmore wrote:I was asked for a donation by the clubbies today and I just cant out of principle, the old surfers vs clubbies thing I guess...
That's not a principle, that's idiocy mixed in with stingieness you ****

So you won't donate anything but you still want them there to save your son if he's out there drowning? Or would you be fine if he drowned and they just said "ohh we would have saved him, but he's a surfer so we couldn't out of principle"?

Edit: Someone ***** to Spinky Spingity boo, or something equally ridiculous.

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Last edited by TMC on Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Clubbies who surf: a conflict of interest?

Post by Haz » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:53 pm

No thanks, I'd rather never give anything to those megalomaniacal TrevG's... They'd probably just spend it on their 50th surf ski, or weights set, or full scale mirrors for the change rooms...
Last edited by Haz on Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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