Agents pull illegal surfers
from Point Panic waves

State law enforcement officers forced surfers off the waves at Point Panic yesterday morning, cited them for surfing in a restricted area and confiscated their boards.

The area is restricted to body surfers. Body boards and surfboards are prohibited.

"Look now, there's nobody out there," said surfer Derek Lamoya, 42, who got his first surfing ticket and had his yellow surfboard confiscated. "Who gets to ride the waves?

"I respect the body surfers," Lamoya said. "I don't get in the way." He said no body surfers were in the water when he went in at 7 a.m.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement agents used a rubber jet boat to herd the surfers out. Surfers said there was an officer on a kayak on the Ewa side of the body-surfing zone, and as surfers climbed out of the water, they were cited.

By 8 a.m. agents had confiscated five boards and issued five citations. The penalty is a fine from $50 to $1,000 and a maximum of 30 days in jail. Accused violators must appear in court.

Michael Lapilio, DLNR crime reduction unit field supervisor, said the law is designed to provide body surfers an area for themselves. Point Panic and Makapuu are the only two surf spots that have areas designated solely for body surfing.

"If it's mixed together, someone's going to get hurt, and it's going to be the body surfers," Lapilio said.

He said altercations between surfers and body surfers often occur. He added that officers often enforce the rules when there is a swell. The National Weather Service forecast 3- to 6-foot waves on the South Shore through today.

After the board surfers got out of the water yesterday, he noted that five body surfers went in.

Officers loaded the boards into their trucks, including a few expensive-looking longboards.

There is a sign on the shore marking the area where surfboards and body boards can be used and where they cannot be.

But Lamoya complained that it is difficult to determine where the imaginary demarcation line is, and a current can often push a surfer out of the correct zone.

One surfer was ticketed a third time but would not comment because he has to appear in court.

Body surfers Kanoho Tuata, 16, and his brother Kalinoa, 15, said they left their body boards in the car when they saw the enforcement officers.

Kanoho Tuata said he does not mind sharing the waves.

"It's like we share," he said. "They give us couple sets. But some of 'em are pretty stingy. They say, 'Get off the waves.' The local guys, they cool."

The brothers say the board surfers have other spots nearby, but those are crowded and might not break as cleanly. Across the channel, Kewalo Basin was jammed with surfboarders.

But Kanoho said ticketing surfers was wrong.

"That's not even reasonable," he said. "(Surfing)'s healthy. It keeps you out of trouble."


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