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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Get a workout by running free with your dog

This writer lives in a wonderful range: almost exactly halfway between the city and the wild foothills and mountains that surround it. Dogs in the city are walked sedately, on a leash, along the concrete surfaces. In the wilderness of the foothills, they often run free. This gives canines a heart-thumping workout as they scramble up the trails of the resorts, along with their human companions.

The only reason I give you this information now, instead of months ago, is because it’s ideal weather for hiking with an energetic dog.

Exercise with a buddy.

But there are many caveats to keep in mind if you are letting your dog run off leash, especially along wilderness trails and meadows. The first, and most important, is that your voice should be an absolute magnet to your pet. Train your dog so that if you call, he or she will come immediately. This must be very strict training. But that’s only part one.

Part two is that you’re also there to get a workout. You are running with your dog. That means your heart is pounding as well. Your pooch should never be more than three feet away. If you can’t run fast enough to keep up, leash up the dog and run together. You’ll be pulled along by the leash, so you’ll easily run faster with less effort.

Part three: are you running up a meadow, like a wide run at a snow resort that has not yet opened for the season? There’s usually so much room that you can see if other dogs or people are nearby, and take necessary precautions. Or are you running up a narrow trail with a hill on one side and a cliff, or steep drop-off, on the other? That’s a dangerous kind of trail to take with your furry best friend. Another dog may come along and start barking or acting aggressively. Your pooch may be frightened enough to run off the trail and fall over the cliff, leading to injuries or even death. The sad part is that you’ll have to find a way down to it, and perhaps also find a way to carry your pet back to your vehicle if it’s injured.

If your dog tends to aggressively vocalise with stranger dogs, a muzzle may be a good idea. That way, your dog can’t bark or bite.

At the same time, another important thing to remember is that even though temperatures may be cool, both your dog and you will eventually need water after getting heated up by a hard run. Carry a water bottle for you in your backpack, carry a foldable water bowl for your dog, and enough water to fill it several times for your canine.

Running in the wilderness is a wonderful way to spend a day bonding with your dog. Afterwards, you’ll both love each other even more than you do now.

Adventure Sports Weekly

Original Article] Wina Sturgeon