County Trying to Make Surfing at Mavericks Safer

New plan would allow Jet Ski patrol at popular surf spot.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office on Thursday will present a plan to federal officials that could provide for a voluntary Jet Ski patrol for the safety of surfers at the famous Mavericks break.

Privately operated Jet Skis are prohibited at Mavericks, which lies within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

However, personal watercrafts that are used by a public agency to protect public safety or property are allowable, marine sanctuary spokeswoman Mary Jane Schramm said.

"We have never prohibited a public agency from using Jet Skis when it comes to public safety," Schramm said.

The sheriff's office will attend a Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting on Thursday to present plans for a "San Mateo County Motorized Personal Watercraft Volunteer Marine Rescue  Program," which could provide a framework to put Jet Ski patrols within the sanctuary while surfers are in the water at Mavericks.

"We're very interested in hearing the presentation from the sheriff's office," Schramm said.

Local surfer Jeff Clark, who has been surfing Mavericks for more than 35 years, says Jet Ski patrols are essential for providing a safety net when surfers are in the water at the Mavericks break, typically during the winter months.

"Unless there's somebody out there making sure that everyone is accounted for, you get a situation like Jacob Trette," Clark said. Trette, a surfer from Southern California, was found unconscious in the waters inside the Mavericks break in January.

Trette was pulled from the water by a photographer on a Jet Ski, Clark said, and was later revived at Stanford Hospital.

Hawaiian surfer Sion Milosky died in March after he wiped out at Mavericks.

He was pulled onto a Jet Ski and taken to the beach, but he never regained consciousness.

The marine sanctuary advisory council may or may not take action to allow the sheriff's Jet Ski patrol plan to move forward at Thursday's meeting, Schramm said.

"We're going to listen to the sheriff's presentation and consider it," Schramm said. "It's been a very controversial issue."

The meeting is scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m. at the Pedro Point Firehouse in Pacifica.

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