School surf rules
draw criticism

The Department of Education has adopted regulations that have been criticized for holding surfing to stricter safety standards than those governing other sports in Hawaii public schools.

Requirements for school surfing

Some of the regulations that school surfing squads must obey:

» At least three coaches, one land-based and two ocean-based.
» One water-based coach for every six students in the water.
» One land-based coach for every 12 students in the water.
» At least one coach on shore at all times.
» Coaches trained in CPR and ocean-rescue skills.
» Junior Lifeguard certification or equivalent for student surfers.
» Meet academic requirements for participation in co-curricular activities.
» Students provide own surfboards.

Source: Hawaii Department of Education

Department officials briefed the Board of Education yesterday on the rules, which require one coach on the beach at all times and at least one coach in the water for every six students surfing.

Coaches and students also will be required to undergo ocean safety certification, and all participants must provide their own medical insurance coverage.

"We can't control the environment where surfing occurs," Assistant Superintendent Kathy Kawaguchi said in justifying the rules, which are not required of other ocean sports like paddling.

The rules could dissuade some schools from forming surfing programs, said Iris Kahaulelio, a teacher at Kahuku High School and coach of its surfing club.

At least for now, surfing will be organized on a club basis rather than as a full-fledged interscholastic sport, and coaches will be unpaid.

"Without those rules there would be more interest and anticipation, but I guess everybody has to cover their butts," Kahaulelio said.

"But it's a good idea that students will have to able to take care of themselves in the water," she said.

Though board approval is not required for such rule making, members lauded the department for putting safety first, and some suggested that similar requirements be placed on paddling.

State Department of Education

E-mail to City Desk


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