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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST | BRIEFS

Tow-surf permits required in Hawaii

September 07, 2004|Christopher Reynolds

THE legislators of Hawaii have spoken, and at least 400 tow-surfers and their friends have been listening.

Tow-surfing, which uses watercraft to tow surfers into large waves that would otherwise be unapproachable, has attracted a growing number of big-wave surfers over the last decade, along with controversy over its riskiness and compatibility with other ocean recreation.

But as of Sept. 1, tow-surfers and the "thrill craft operators" who tow them must have certificates to show they've taken a safety course, which covers topics from surf etiquette to CPR.

Jim Howe, operations chief of the city and county of Honolulu's Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division, said he had issued about 400 certificates through Sept. 1. Hawaii's pre-eminent tow-surfer, Laird Hamilton, is scheduled to attend -- and lecture at -- the Sept. 11-12 session on Maui. Tow-surfing without a certificate is now a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

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Christopher Reynolds

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