SURF RAGE: Vicious stand up boarder 'could have killed me'
A MINDLESS act of surf rage at The Pass in Byron Bay has left veteran surfers shaking their head in disbelief.
The incident last Friday has also reignited calls to ban stand up paddleboarders from the overcrowded break.
Pete Wood, 69, was aggressively "run over" by an SUP rider after he caught a wave in front of the spot known as Spectator's Rock.
Mr Wood had right of way, but the SUP rider took off in front of him before Mr Wood had a chance to stand up, and his fin ran over Mr Wood's right hand.
"I couldn't get my arm out because his fins were pushing my hand into my board... and then our leg ropes got tangled," Mr Wood said.
"The fins of his board dragged me along the wave, and eventually he fell off.
Mr Wood's wrist sustained a deep gash which later needed 10 stitches, but that was only part of the ordeal.
"When he fell off he was absolutely psycho, furious that I had dared to catch the wave.
"He tried to rip my leg rope off with his hand. When that didn't work he tried to pick up my board and tried to throw it as if he wanted to break it.
"But the wind caught it and it went up into the sky and came up down on his head.
"Then he went absolutely beyond the Richter scale and started coming at me.
"Then I put my hands up to say 'calm down man', and saw the huge gash in my arm, but that didn't stop him."
When Mr Wood's son intervened, the SUP rider paddled off "huffing and puffing".
Mr Wood was eventually helped from the surf and taken to hospital for stitches.
He said he was traumatised by the experience.
"I think days later I'm still processing it," he said.
Making the affair more disgraceful was the fact when Mr Wood reviewed the footage on forecasting website Swellnet's surfcam replay (at 1.12pm Friday), the SUP rider was clearly in the wrong.
Prior footage also revealed he was hogging the break, aggressively paddling straight back out after catching waves and paddling in front of others.
Eerily, the SUP rider had "smiled" at Mr Wood as he was preparing to paddle for the wave.
Mr Wood went to police who advised him he would need to prove the act was a deliberate one to make a successful case for assault.
He's now warning others to "paddle in the opposite direction" when an SUP rider is around.
"Avoid them at all costs," he said.
"If another board hits you, most of the time it just flies off. With an SUP, it can be deadly. You're getting hit with a ton of bricks.
"They should be banned from The Pass."
Prominent local pro surfer Dave Rastovich has previously called for a ban on SUPs at The Pass in a widely circulated petition.
Local ding repairer and witness Bruce Reid said it was the worst thing he'd ever seen in 30 years of surfing The Pass.
"I've seen a lot of things, but it's definitely the worst."
"I thought the (Mr Wood) had a red glove on, because there was just blood pissing out of his hand."
He also said he saw the SUP rider use his paddle to try and attack Mr Wood after he fell off.
"It was like a fisherman on the canoe spear fishing. You could see him thrust it down."
He said the local SUP riders didn't come surf The Pass "because they know it's dangerous."
"I've got grandkids that surf there, you can imagine a 12ft paddleboard out of control coming through there.
"They're a bloody nuisance, for sure."
For his part Mr Wood said his says of surfing The Pass were done.
"I've come to that point. It could have killed me."
"It's a big shame that it's got to that stage."