A man will appear in court next month accused of holding a woman’s head underwater during an alleged surf-rage incident on the New South Wales north coast.
It is alleged the 55-year-old pushed the woman underwater three times after the man, riding a surf mat, and the woman’s board collided at Lennox Point last month.
Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Lindsay said the man was charged this week with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
“We will allege that he held this female underwater to the point that she thought she was going to drown,” he said.
“She was able to break free and get some air … we will also allege she faked being unconscious and was let go.”
Police said they had heard of other surf-rage incidents at Lennox Point, and urged any witnesses to come forward.
“The message from police is to respect each other in the water, and the laws apply not only on land, but also in the surf,” Chief Inspector Lindsay said.
Surf rage spreads as international visitors flock to breaks
The incident comes amid growing concerns about surf rage at the region’s famous right-hand point break.
A sign was recently erected urging visitors to “respect the locals, do not paddle up the inside”.
Le-Ba (Lennox-Ballina) Boardriders Club president James Wood said heavy crowds had led to growing tension in the surf line-up.
“There’s been a lot more people down here in the water, and it’s starting to bubble over to incidents like that,” he said.
It’s hard to not be angry if a car full of people arrive and jump out and start taking every wave, and muscle in because they don’t know the etiquette for the area.
“We probably educate them through yelling at them.”
More peaceful in the water than it used to be
Local surf journalist Steve Shearer said a wave-starved winter had increased tension in the water.
But the 48-year-old denied surf rage was getting worse as a result.
“To put things into context, when I was learning to surf and growing up, the surf culture was much more violent,” he said.
“If you stepped out of line there was more than likely going to be a violent consequence, and I think it’s much more peaceful now.
“The crowding now, you’ve got to accept it, you’ve got to be prepared to get stoked on less.”