Grand Strand surfers naturally practice social distancing

Surfside surf shop owner says his regulars are surfing as much as ever during coronavirus outbreak

Another social distancing idea: Surfing along the Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - If you are looking for a way to get in some exercise during the coronavirus pandemic, one sport that will continue as long as the beaches remain open is surfing.

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, surfers can still wax down their boards and practice social distancing.

"Started out when I was about five, my dad just threw me in the water,” said surfer Jeff Ruble.

Ruble started surfing at a young age, and hasn’t let the coronavirus outbreak impact his love for the sport.

“I’ve been with these guys since the whole pandemic happened,” said Ruble. “Us three have just been going out here and trying to keep our distance away from people.”

Surfing itself can be dangerous so recommends surfers stay at least 15 feet apart, which is already two and a half times what the CDC defines as social distancing.

Surfers generally also practice something called “priority” which means whoever is closest to the wave’s breakpoint essentially has the right of way, so in theory, surfers shouldn’t have to come anywhere near each other.

While the outbreak hasn’t had much of an effect on Jeff and his friends in the water, it’s also pretty much been business as usual for Jacob Simmons, owner of Eternal Wave Surf Shop in Surfside.

“The main thing is like, having a positive thing to do,” said Simmons. “Right now, surfing is one of those. If you have an opportunity to get out on the water, get out on the water.”

He said the shop continues to rent boards and disinfects the boards when they’re returned.

The one thing the virus has had an impact on are surf lessons.

Right now, the water is too cold for most beginners learning how to surf, but Simmons said there may be a way to teach even if the outbreak lasts into the summer.

"You’re not going to shake hands kind of thing, you’re not going to be right beside them the entire time, but with surfing and surf lessons being a beginner you do need help being pushed into waves with proper instruction, but that could be done with the six-foot of distancing that everyone is recommending,” said Simmons.

If you plan to surf, remember the governor has advised people to gather in no more than groups of three, and that applies to surfers too.

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