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Goodwill surfing tour gets a little choppy

Pete Thomas ON THE OUTDOORS

July 13, 2007|Pete Thomas

What is it about waves that bring out the worst in surfers?

The mere prospect of waves triggers something in their brain. Waves are to surfers what gold was to the 49ers.

Put surfers in a crowded lineup -- not all surfers, of course, but a noticeable percentage -- and they act like seagulls quarreling over a spilled bag of chips.

But barring access to waves brings out their worst.

A glaring example occurred recently at Barra de la Cruz, a remote Mexican village whose flawless point-break lures surfers from all over the world.

Townsfolk are poor but gracious, so a "Goodwill Tour," spearheaded by Sean Collins of Surfline.com, was launched to raise funds to complete a medical clinic.

The Mexican government promised to staff the clinic with a doctor once it was built.

So, the four-day event was held and $20,000 was donated toward the completion of the facility, leaving perhaps something extra for school supplies and a stairway to a church on the promontory.

But the Goodwill Tour will be remembered more for the bickering between security guards and surfers who were ordered out of the water while a select number of donating "VIPs" and local surfers shared the magical break.

Heated arguments almost turned to fisticuffs. Some surfers ignored barricades and paddled out anyway. Rocks were hurled at them from the bluffs.

Three women visiting from nearby Puerto Escondido, site of the recent X Games surfing competitions, blogged afterward that they were threatened with violence by a security guard when they paddled into an empty lineup two hours before the 8 a.m. start of the contest.

"He kept saying he was going to jump in and crack open our heads," read part of a long-winded rant trashing Collins and predicting that if money was donated it'd just end up in a corrupt politician's pocket.

Although he has received support, Collins is being harshly criticized on Internet message boards by surfers -- many of them foul-mouthed and borderline illiterate -- accusing the surf forecaster of hosting a pay-for-play scheme for what they called his well-heeled cronies.

This much seems clear: Security guards were overzealous and the break should not have remained closed to the public before or after the scheduled daily events.

Also, Collins should have known that this was \o7not\f7 a major publicized event like the X Games, so it would not be universally accepted. But perhaps he was simply giving surfers too much credit.

"As surfers we're often very selfish, myself included," he conceded this week. "And as I get older and wiser, I'm in the position where we can try to do good things and try to give back.

"And that was definitely what this was: to try to give back to the community that has shared so much with us. Obviously in hindsight we can do some things better, but our primary goal in helping the town was successful."

To be sure, if the clinic \o7is\f7 completed and operational, it will make far more of a difference than a few missed waves.

Tuna time!

The San Diego-based fleet last Friday tallied more than 1,000 albacore for the first time this season, but more noteworthy is the appearance of the longfin tuna as close as 25 miles from shore.

Overnight boats from Newport Beach and Dana Point have found them at such offshore locales as the Butterfly Bank and the 209- and 182-fathom ridges. Catches were even made aboard a San Diego three-quarter-day vessel.

Interestingly, albacore were caught in 69-degree water, which is more suitable for yellowfin tuna and dorado.

"It seems like the temperature is not making that much of a difference," says Joe Bairian, skipper of the Bongos III out of Davey's Locker. "It's more about clarity. You're looking for that clean, blue water."

Bairian says there is cooler water beneath the surface, but conceded that a changing of the guard appears imminent.

"It's a guessing game, but my guess would be that the dorado will be here shortly," he said.

A woman's work...

A spike in the number of female hunters in 2006 inspired Field & Stream magazine, in its July issue, to allow women to express their feelings on the topic. Wrote Natalie Boyle, a stay-at-home mom from Rutland, Vt.:

"With four kids, preparation for an afternoon hunt goes something like this: line up a baby-sitter, throw in a load of laundry, do the dishes, make sure the dogs are walked and kenneled, put dinner in the Crock-Pot, run the vacuum real quick, and what else?

"Oh yeah, get my gear ready so I can actually go. Don't get me wrong, it's all worth it just to be in the woods."

No video games allowed

In an age of childhood obesity and obsession with computerized gadgetry, getting out and enjoying the great outdoors is becoming a lost art.

That's what makes the annual Youth Outdoor Safari Day, sponsored by the L.A. and Orange County chapters of Safari Club International, such a worthwhile endeavor.

Among activities and exhibits during the July 21 event at Mike Raahauge's Shooting Enterprises complex in Norco are kayaking, archery, target shooting, firearm safety, decoy painting, falconry and firearm safety.

"It is much different than being entertained: It is participating in activities that have lifelong opportunities," says Jeff Buck, a nine-year attendee from Dana Point.

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $30 per family and advance registration is available at \o7youthsafariday.com\f7.

pete.thomas@latimes.com

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