Why I hate Nippers and their four-wheel-driving parents

Every Sunday they descend: pink fluoro-clad Nippers like swarms of flies across our beaches. It’s not just them, it’s their surf patrol parents and their four-wheel-drive vehicles making it impossible to park on the Sabbath day that annoy me. Call me un-Australian – happily – but Nippers drive me crazy.

For those of us who like the daily ritual of swimming or surfing, there’s the ever-present danger of a collision with an errant young surf lifesaver not watching where they are going.

Yes, I know they are out there learning how to protect us when times are tough and swells are rough. It’s just the sanctimonious, self-righteous attitude of surf club members and their offspring that bothers me. They think they own the ocean.

I’m inclined to agree with the anonymous writer in The Lone Hand, the sister publication to The Bulletin also founded by J.F. Archibald, who in 1910 observed: “The lifesavers represent the very highest class. They are the samurais, the oligarchs, the elite. They strut the beaches with superiority that is insolent, yet at the same time, tolerant … of lesser breeds – a gladiator class, envied by all the men, adored by all the women.”

I am one woman who does not adore them. It’s not just their bronze medallioned superiority out in the water, but their takeover of the beach with sprinting races, running for flags in Darwinian-style survival-of-the- fittest contests. Where’s the respectful sharing of our beaches like bike riders and car drivers on some of Sydney’s roads?

Sure, Nippers celebrate champions but what about those with disabilities or who are simply slow? From my own observation in my two years as a Nippers mother, they end up feeling not so great.

Am I the only one who finds clubbies cliquey and condescending? Joining Nippers is the new country club for making contacts for parents – they are often sponsored by the local real estate agent and remain – if you ask me – the last bastions of ugly Ocker maledom.

But they didn’t ask me much in the two years I was trying to be part of the team – so I ended up becoming friends with the breakaway parents who shared my complaints.

Nippers is a cult. I know I’ll be crucified for saying that. It’s all very misanthropic of me but they make me feel like an outsider in the water; the very place I feel most at home (as an Aquarian).

We will fight them on our beaches, we will fight them in our car parks. It’s time to reclaim Sunday mornings.


Helen PittHelen Pitt|



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