Group suggests extending time for boarders at Wedge

Board surfers may soon be riding more waves at The Wedge.

The Blackball Working Group, charged with reviewing surfing policies throughout Newport Beach, has suggested extending the number of months and the amount of daytime during those months when surfboards, body boards and the like should be allowed in the area, located at the end of the Balboa Peninsula where the west harbor jetty extends from shore.

The Wedge is cherished for its infamous monster waves, which some claim to be unique to the world. The storied spot has played host to an ongoing battle between those who use boards and believe they deserve fair access, and body surfers who say it is unsafe for them to compete with the those on the boards.

As it stands, flotation devices — be they surfboards, bodyboards, skimboards or even plastic trays — are prohibited from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 1 through Oct. 31.

The working group instead recommended that the ban last from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. Memorial Day weekend (the last Monday of May) through Labor Day (the first Monday in September), according to a staff report.

The six-member group also proposed that the area known as The Wedge be extended from 20 feet to 600 feet from the West Jetty.

"This is just a recommendation, this is nothing that is set in stone," said Newport Beach Lifeguard Battalion Chief Rob Williams, who is part of the working group.

Other suggestions included extending the city-wide ban time frame to match The Wedge's, unless a marine safety watch commander deems areas safe for both those with boards and those without. Currently the black and yellow blackball flag prohibits the use of boards from noon to 4 p.m. June 15 to Sept. 10.

Unless specifically designated by the watch commander, three areas would be excluded from the general ban: from Orange Street to the city's border at the Santa Ana River, from 48th to 56th streets and the area from 20 feet to 100 feet southeast of the Balboa Pier, according to the report.

Meanwhile, board use would be prohibited during all hours between 40th and 44th streets during the above dates.

The Parks Beaches and Recreation commission will discuss the working group's ideas Tuesday and then decide if changes should be forwarded to the City Council.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World