Surfing Comes To the Streets of Munich

Surfing isn't regulated under the city's swimming and boating ordinances. But the sport could perhaps be viewed as "permissible common usage of a body of water," local administrative official Wilfried Blume-Beyerle explained last year. Blume-Beyerle, who oversees matters of health and environment for the city, now wants to present a model for permitting surfing in Munich. It will be necessary, however, to ensure that in cases of accidents, neither the city nor the state could be held liable.

The legal status of the Eisbach is complicated -- the state of Bavaria owns the land, but the city of Munich is responsible for the water. Politicians are, however, close to finding a solution.

Bavarian Finance Minister Georg Fahrenschon, who advocated for the surfers during the last election campaign for Bavaria's state parliament, has proposed a deal to Munich Mayor Christian Ude. Fahrenschon, whose administration sits just minutes away from the wave, wants to transfer ownership of the Eisbach to the city. Munich, as sole owner, could then implement a plan to allow surfing. Ude doesn't oppose the plan, either. He's "generally happy to accept" gifts of property, he says, and will consider the suggestion "favorably."

At the moment, the idea is stuck in the administrative pipeline, and the government says it may be winter before Munich's surf scene is officially sanctioned.

The surfers, of course, can't wait that long. The season has already begun and the Eisbach's water is getting warmer by the day. Competitions have already been planned for the summer.

Someone, in fact, has gone ahead and anticipated the city government's decision. A wooden sign hung on the bank by the wave now reads: "Swimming verboten! Surfing allowed!!!"

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