Surfin' DOA

Dania Beach cramps the style of its board-riding bunch

Surfers campaigning to change this rule may have checked out -- way out -- of reality, according to Wyatt Porter-Brown, co-chair of the Surfrider Foundation's South Florida chapter. "The 100-foot line is hard and fast," he says, adding that it is silly to challenge the rule, because it protects surfers from anglers' hooks. "Fishermen are just a bunch of rednecks. There is no other way to say it." (Porter-Brown, by the way, is no Moondoggie. He is an articulate architect for M.C. Harry & Associates, a firm that has designed several projects for both Miami-Dade and Broward schools.)

Dejected Broward surfers have been calling and e-mailing Porter-Brown, and he has suggested time and again that they organize instead of complaining. "Those surfers can piss and moan all they want," he says. "But those guys aren't going to get anything if they don't help themselves."

The only reasonable course of action, Porter-Brown says, is to put a sign in the water to mark the 100-foot boundary -- a measure the foundation has offered to fund. "How can the Broward Sheriff's Office give out tickets if no one really knows were the line is? How does anyone know if he 80 feet or 90 feet away?"

Commissioners, though, will probably resist any sort of change. Dania Beach mayor C.K. "Mac" McElyea seems stuck on an image of surfers as slow-talking, peroxide-blond ocean rats. "Surfers are usually uncontrollable," he drawls. "You give them an inch, and they take a mile. It's in their nature, I guess."

With so much petty banter and so few good waves, it is hard to understand why Riedesel stays in Dania Beach. Many people have asked him, over the last 30 years, why he doesn't just surf in Palm Beach County or, even better, move to California. "To have your own surf beach in your own hometown, it's a blessing," he says, the soft passion of religion in his voice. "It means so much to me."

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