Ruggles Saved

A community’s effort saves their homebreak in Rhode Island

| posted on April 17, 2013

A lineup worth saving, Ruggles in Rhode Island. Photo: Nevins

After a few weeks of uncertainty for Nor’eastern surfers, the acclaimed Rhode Island surf spot Ruggles was saved in a combined effort by surfers and activists. Decent pointbreaks that can handle 10- to 15-foot faces are hard to come by, particularly on the East Coast. That’s why protecting this peeling righthander in Newport, Rhode Island, was well worth the fight.

Three weeks ago, Ruggles was threatened by plans to restore the iconic Cliff Walk that skirts the rocky shoreline originally damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October. Authorities were able to bypass the usual process thanks to special emergency rules governing Hurricane Sandy relief. In order to complete this ambitious project, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation proposed a stone break wall, reaching 20 feet from the Cliff Walk to the high tide line, and two temporary jetties—200 feet long and 40 feet wide—in the center of the Ruggles lineup. A project like this would ruin the spot and devastate Rhode Island surfers, and would only perpetuate the notion that saving waves isn’t a priority.

So Rhode Island locals and Water Brothers Surf Shop owner Sid Abruzzi stepped in and stormed a Newport City Council meeting to protest the city’s plans to initiate construction. Speeches and presentations were heard by Marine Biologist Drew Carey, Newport City Manager Scott Wheeler, and local surfer Brian Burns. The presentations preached respect to the environment and natural ecology, finding the proper (and least damaging) way to fix the Cliff Walk, and determining how the money could be better spent.

And like that, Ruggles was saved. While this victory may seem like an isolated event, surfers should be encouraged by the activism and charisma shown by those who participated in saving Ruggles, and be reminded that as coastlines continue to develop, the burden to protect them remains on our shoulders.
—Ryan Waldron

The community rallied and Ruggles survived. Photo: Nevins

  • what?

    What? Sid and crew didn’t storm the Newport City Council meeting; they knew in advance that the city was unanimously on their side and opposed to the RIDOT plan. And no mention is made of Sid and crew’s closed-door meeting with the RIDOT, who came to Sid beforehand and said they were anxious to get surfers’ input on the proposed repairs.

    This article is off the mark in many ways…

  • John Connor

    However it was done, great work. Yes, we need more of this activism. Surfing in all of Monmouth County NJ (not just one break) will be a thing of the past in about a year. After Sandy, the Army Corps and State of NJ are petitioning all Ocean front towns to move forward with a 3 phased large beach fill project even to towns that never had this before. So far I have heard that most towns eagerly signed on. We are not likely to stop this project but we hopefully can persuade them to try plan modifications that won’t completely destroy surfing. While dumping sand on the beach is not going to last and only provides marginal temporary protection, surfing will be destroyed for years with this $200 Million project. If you surf or fish in northern NJ, please contact your local and state representatives and ask that they demand a plan modification to the beach fill. The technology exists to provide the same protection and not destroy surf breaks by a simple plan modification. Reefs are another alternative

  • offshorekid

    glad they saved it.