Can we get a break?

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Wow! What a summer it’s been so far. Lots of great warm days, not much swell at all, but at least a bump out there to keep us distracted a little ‘til the music flares up at the concessions to help us forget we don’t have waves. But when we do, by jeebus it gets good here!

Which leans towards yet another story on “surfonomics” recently posted on the economist.com website: “The effects of surfers on local economies.” The interesting take on this particular story isn’t that waves help build communities, it’s great waves. And that’s what we have here in Rockaway.

The economic authors of the study, Thomas McGregor and Samuel Wills of Oxford University, “have taken a different approach. They study data on wave quality, crowdsourced from picky surfers, and satellite images of night-time light intensity, a handy proxy for economic activity. Areas around beaches with high-quality waves have over time grown brighter and brighter in these satellite images. Beaches with low-quality waves, on the other hand, remain lost in the dark,” the Economist writes.

The authors go on to write that “great” waves generate approx. $50 billion annually on a global scale, stating “That’s around $20m every year for each place with good surf.”

What’s a shame is that the only people investing into this are the actual surf shops and a few local restaurants, not the backbone of the community. Lastly, they mention… “According to Messrs McGregor and Wills, to catch the economic benefits, countries (communities) need stable politics and an easy business environment. Before squeezing into a wetsuit, policymakers may first need to go on a regulatory diet.”

While the investment by surf shops bodes well for them, unfortunately it creates an insanely clogged lineup that literally no one can actually get a wave to surf by themselves. At any given time during the hours between 10am – 6pm in the main surf zone at the 90th Street jetty, there was well over 100+ surfers in the water. Regular collisions with beginners running over each other and good surfers alike. Complete pandemonium.

The Rockaway community leaders need to step up and understand that we have great waves here and that surfers from around the world want to come play with. We need thoughtful progressive thinking to capitalize on our resource and expand it to the many thousands a day that want to indulge, and not be put in direct harm’s way. It not only bodes well for visitors and locals alike, it will also help grow the community with so much cash influx. Pretty simple equation to be winners.

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