Chill Out, Surfer Dude

It's the water world version of road rage. There is overcrowding on the perfect waves off the California coast, and for years the locals have been running off strangers, reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen.

Steve Fuller's mistake three years ago was catching a wave off a San Diego beach that a local surfer wanted.

"Before I knew it, he reached over and grabbed me around the head and put me in a headlock and started to beat the crap out of me," Fuller recalls.

One hundred miles north on the Ventura County coast, surfer Vik Dewar says the locals are protecting their territory on and off the water.

"You could get thrashed. There are people out there that have nothing better to do but, you know, go loco. And they will," Dewar says. "I've seen a lot! I've seen people get socked in the face. I've seen cars get destroyed."

Says California Congressman Brian Bilbray: "It's road rage to a large degree but it is not based on an emotional issue. It's not frustration. It is actually hatred."

Long-time surfer dude Bilbray says enough! The San Diego Republican is proposing a bill to make surfer attacks a federal hate crime - a felony.

"Hate crimes are not just something that happen to somebody who is African-American or somebody who is gay or somebody who is Jewish or whatever," Bilbray says.

And that's only the beginning. There's a bill making its way to the California legislature that would classify the surfboard as a deadly weapon when it is used to attack another surfer.

It's so bad that police in Palos Verdes are patrolling on jet skis and putting undercover cops on surfboards to ride the waves and ride herd.

"It just gives us an opportunity to monitor for intelligence purposes," says Palos Verdes Police Chief Timm Browne. "If there's somebody there causing trouble, we can identify 'em and try and weed 'em out early on."

And back in Ventura, surfer Dewar is urging everyone, as best he can, to just calm down.

"If you see some local people, let them do their thing, don t bug them," Dewar advises. "Just go out to the side, mind your own business."

In other words, take a deep breath and hang ten.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed