11-time surfing champ Slater says Chicago regulates waves ‘like a police state’
BY MARK KONKOL Writer at Largefirstname.lastname@example.org January 19, 2012 6:24PM
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Kelly Slater of the USA poses for a portrait at Maroubra Beach on March 19, 2004 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Updated: February 21, 2012 8:41AM
Surfing superstar Kelly Slater has taken to Twitter — and may travel to wintry Chicago — in defense of Rex Flodstrom, the guy arrested Tuesday for catching freezing, fresh-water waves in a no-surf zone.
Flodstrom, a 40-year-old artist, poet and online tea company employee, was charged with disorderly conduct and being at a closed beach when police spotted him surfing 4-foot swells at Oak Street Beach. He was handcuffed in his cold-weather wet suit and hauled to a police lockup, where he was held for four hours.
Chicago ended its surfing prohibition in 2009 when the park district caved to pressure from surfing advocate groups including the Surfrider Foundation. But surfing remains heavily regulated. Catching waves is limited to only certain beaches — Oak Street is not one of them.
Flodstrom plans to fight the charges in court on Feb. 16.
“Surfing is not a crime,” the 11-time surfing world champion tweeted Wednesday. “Say what?! Maybe a few of us should attend court with him.”
On Thursday, Slater told the Sun-Times he’s perplexed by Chicago’s rather harsh surfing regulations.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s just a body of water. What’s with the regulations?” said Slater, the 2011 Association of Surfing Professionals champ. “ It makes no sense. … It sounds like a police state.”
Slater, who splits time living in Florida, California and Hawaii, said he is trying to juggle his schedule to be in court with Flodstrom.
“It would be cool to show up and see what kind of BS they’re talking about,” said Slater, who also is an author, video game character, musician and actor, best known for a recurring role on “Baywatch.”
Surfing advocates — including pro-surfer turned environmental activist James Pribram, who helped lead the movement to lift Chicago’s surf ban in 2009 — also plan to show up in court.
“I was shocked to hear someone got arrested, again,” said Pribram, who plans to re-energize a push to expand surfing in Chicago. “I thought Chicago was going to open more beaches and have surfing legalized throughout the lakefront. The fact that surfing is illegal anywhere in America is pretty baffling in this day and age. People should have the free will to use the lake to surf, boogie-board, do stand-up paddling, whatever.”
Pribram said he and Slater plan to catch some super-cold waves, too.
It would be Slater’s first shot at ripping frigid, freshwater curls.
“I’d love to,” Slater said. “It would be a cool experience but freezing cold.”
Flodstrom said he’s overwhelmed by all the support of the “global surfing family.”
“It’s amazing,” Flodstrom said. “That Kelly Slater, such a huge superstar, would do anything like that is awesome.”