Rough Waters

By: Mike Tolbert
By: Mike Tolbert

You might not think of today as ideal for surfing, but a chilly 46 degrees and red flags flying doesn’t have Will Lantz worried about his sons who wanted to catch some waves. A new beach flag warning system, however, does have will and other surfers very worried.

In Okaloosa and Walton Counties this year, you could see double red flags flying. That means the water is closed due to strong currents and undertow, but surfers say those conditions are prime for surfing.

Swimmers who stay in the water under double red flags could face tickets and fines. Surfers say they can handle rough waters because they are generally good swimmers. They also tether themselves to their boards, which can be used as flotation devices.

County Commissioner Elaine Tucker has no problem with surfers going in under a double red flag and hopes to make surfers exempt from the rule at Tuesday’s county commission meeting. She says if you feel like you're a strong enough swimmer and you want to risk your life out there, then go out there as a surfer with your surfboard and surf.

Surfers understand that the new flag system was put in place with swimmers in mind, but they go out on the boards knowing the dangers. Eventually knowing what to do when the waters get rough.

They hope Tuesday the Okaloosa County Commission will see it that way too.


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