Locals only!

By Kim Schiffmann, in Surf, Algarve · 19-03-2021 01:00:00 · 2 Comments

When you are in the water surfing, there are heaps of things you have to pay attention to; the waves, the currents, the wind, your position and, if not alone in the line up, all of the other surfers and the rules that apply too.

Generally the rules are the same all over the world and are not there to tell you whether you are surfing right or wrong, but just to make sure that the session is harmonious and fun for everyone out there.

So what are these rules? They are pretty simple and require only a bit of logical thinking and some basic human decency. Whenever there is more than one surfer in the same spot you start building a line up. Just like a queue at the supermarket or anywhere else. The surfer that is closest to where the wave breaks gets the right of way and after he has surfed his wave and paddles back out, he positions himself at the end of the queue. This ensures that everyone gets to have a go and is also very important for the safety of everyone around.

Sadly though, this doesn’t always work out the way it should, making it dangerous and impossible to have a nice session. What is quite common and can also be observed here in Portugal is the “locals only attitude”, where some people feel they deserve more waves and don’t like to share their spot simply because they live nearby.

To be honest, I can imagine that it gets a bit frustrating to always have masses of inexperienced tourist surfers come and crowd your favourite wave, but creating a hostile surf environment should not be the solution to this problem.

The Algarve is probably one of the most popular surf regions in Portugal and attracts thousands of surf tourists from all around the world and while most beaches here are very easy going, there are some that sometimes simply aren’t.
The Portugal News talked to surfers in the area, who explained that Praia do Zavial and Praia do Beliche are two of the beaches in the western Algarve where this behaviour is most commonly seen.

But the beach that we heard the most complaints about was Praia da Rocha in Portimão.

Our source, who prefers to stay anonymous and who has lived in the Algarve for already more than 9 years, has finished his school here, speaks Portuguese and is an experienced and skilled surfer, told us about his experience with the locals in Praia da Rocha.

“I don’t like going to Praia da Rocha anymore, I used to go there more when I lived in Portimão, but even when it was the closest surfable beach to my house I would think twice before going. The best waves are right next to the pier, so that is where the locals are always surfing. A couple of times I went to try and surf there and I always greet the people around me and try to be friendly but I never got a ‘good morning´ or a ‘what’s up?’ back from them. At some point they became very hostile and were shouting at me in Portuguese, telling me to get the hell out and that foreigners don’t belong here. They even threatened me with violence and would not let me take a wave even if no one else was paddling for it.”

Another surfer that lives in the Algarve for many years told us that his experience was very similar. “We saw some great waves on the webcam at rocha, and the water was almost empty. But by the time we got there, there were about 15 people at the pierbreak. As we were getting in the water so was one of the locals, we all said hi to each other and started paddling out. Super excited about the waves. On the way out two locals almost collided, one guy was inches away from getting the tip of the board in his face, he didn’t get out of the way from the surfer on the wave, and it led to some of the people screaming profanities at each other.

“As we got out, the friend I was with went for a wave, it was an empty wave with no one on it or paddling for it, off she went. As soon as she was up on the wave, the same guy that we had said hi to, starts first whistling, then shouting at me. I didn’t pick up on it first it took me a few seconds. By the time I realised it was me they were screaming at, others had joined in, now screaming and pointing at me. ‘Respect the ******* locals’, ‘get the **** out of here’, **** off’, and that was just some of the stuff. All males, the older people were the first to start screaming, but by the time we are paddling out of there, we were even getting screamed at by the kids, who cant have been older than 12-13 who had started copying the behaviour instantly and began screaming at us. They didn’t stop screaming until we were so far away that the sound actually faded.

“When I was getting out of the water from where I surfed, so was the dude who had started it all. We were both walking in the same direction of the parking lot. I wanted to have a word and ask what their problem was, but as he saw me he stopped walking and just stood and looked down at his feet into the sand until I continued walking. Not as brave without his buddies. As I’m changing by the car one of the young kids that were screaming at us walks by with his mother. He sees us and quickly looks away whilst they pass.”

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Welcome to Portugal where despite all the estate agent spiel,Johnny Foreigner is often treated with utter contempt.Try dealing with your local councils etc.
The feeling I frequently get is that they are doing me a favour.Despite the fact that without the investment brought in by said foreigners many of the towns, villages and developments would be left to rot.

By James from Algarve on 19-03-2021 05:47

Very sad but true reality. This article captures it very well: It`s completely understandable when local beaches get crowded by tourists. Mass tourism (and this includes mass surf tourism) is never cool but so isn`t a hostile environment. The ocean should`t "belong" to anyone. I have also been told off by a local instructor at Caparica that I should get out of the water because some kids were busy having a lesson.

By Melissa from Lisbon on 19-03-2021 04:31
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