This past Saturday, one of the “ugliest” tow-in/paddle-in confrontations to date occurred at Todos Santos Island, nine miles off Ensenada. As the swell increased in the afternoon and three tow teams began riding through the crowded lineup, Corona Del Mar surfer Keith Head paddled over to his rented panga, borrowed a knife from his driver, then slipped over to the tow-in support boat and cut the anchor line — a deadly sin in maritime law. When the tow-in crew — including Adam Cohen, Skip Statz and Scott Chandler — caught wind of Head’s deed, they quickly motored over, grabbed Head’s 8’10” gun and destroyed it. A fourth tow-in surfer then boarded Head’s panga, hit him from behind and gave him a sound beating. “I didn’t even try to fight back,” says Head. “I just let him pummel me.”

A few days after the attack, no one’s budging. The tow-in guys say Head got off easy; Head feels he’s run out of options. With a growing number of tow surfers riding Todos regardless of size or number of paddle-in surfers, he’s resorted to terrorist tactics to make them stop.Whatever side you’re on, the lawless waters off Todos may be the one place where the tow-in/paddle-in debate comes to a final, bloody conclusion. Or, better yet, where they find a way to coexist. — Evan Slater [Check the March ’04 issue of SURFING Magazine for the full, er…blow-by-blow.]