Steve Pike

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

Peru just passed an amaz­ing law, some­thing that South` Africa should have done years ago.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Surf­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, Peru­vian pres­i­dent Ol­lanta Hu­mala last week signed leg­is­la­tion for the Pro­tec­tion of Peru’s coast­line and its surf breaks. Law 2780 safe­guards Peru’s beaches from con­struc­tion that may “af­fect the coast and its waves that are ideal for surf­ing”.

Can you imag­ine if we had done that years be­fore the pris­tine shift­ing dunes of Cape St Fran­cis were choked by in­va­sive aliens planted there so de­vel­op­ers could run ram­pant over some of the most pris­tine real es­tate in our beau­ti­ful coun­try?

Imag­ine the point at Su­per­tubes with a wide strip of in­dige­nous veg­e­ta­tion set back from the beach to al­low the dunes and veg­e­ta­tion, in­clud­ing those iconic aloes, to ex­ist in their nat­u­ral state? In­stead, we built on top of dunes all over the coun­try.

The view be­came high­value cur­rency to en­rich land own­ers and de­vel­op­ers, but at what cost? It can­not be cal­cu­lated.

Imag­ine if there were no houses within 100 me­tres or more of the beach all along our coast, from west to east. We al­ready have seen how storm surges, floods and huge win­ter storms (and th­ese are only go­ing to get worse as cli­mate change turns up the heat) can wreak havoc on overzeal­ous de­vel­op­ment too close to the shore.

Re­mem­ber the huge storm of Septem­ber 2001 that saw car­nage along the At­lantic seaboard? A gi­ant swell, spring high tide and storm surge dev­as­tated man-made struc­tures all around Cape Town. In Oc­to­ber, a re­port re­leased by the City of Cape Town found that in 25 years or less, Cape Town could lose 25 square kilo­me­tres of coast from ris­ing sea- lev­els and storms surges.

The risk as­sess­ment, by Coastal Co­or­di­na­tor Dar­ryl Colen­bran­der, states that 14 lo­ca­tions around the Penin­sula are ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble and un­der threat, some of which are al­ready see­ing the ef­fects af­ter re­cent se­vere storms. Ap­prox­i­mately R5 bil­lion worth of in­fra­struc­ture ex­ists in th­ese ar­eas. Dras­tic mea­sures are re­quired, the re­port says.

Re­mem­ber the mass de­struc­tion in KwaZulu-Natal in March 2007? A gi­ant storm formed al­most on top of them. It cre­ated 50 foot swell and a two me­tre storm surge. Add to that a big spring high tide. Car­nage.

If ur­ban plan­ners had more fore­sight, South Africa would be a to­tally dif­fer­ent place along the coast. Ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments in cities like Dur­ban, East Lon­don, PE, Plet and Cape Town would have an in­cred­i­ble nat­u­ral park right there.

Coun­tries, in­clud­ing Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Ar­gentina, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, have em­braced surf­ing by open­ing their doors to a range of in­ter­na­tional events.

The in­au­gu­ral long­board­ing cham­pi­onships – our Si­mone Robb won the women’s world ti­tle – took place in Huan­chaco, Peru. The body­board champs took place in Venezuela. The SUP ti­tles took place near Lima, Peru.

The surf­ing games, won by South Africa, took place in Santa Catalina, Panama. The mas­ters champs were held in Ecuador.

And next year looks no dif-


GO BIG: Yadin Ni­col sets him­self up for the tube at Pipe­line on Day 1 of the Bil­l­abong Pipe­line Mas­ters this week.

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