A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO SURFING ETIQUETTE
THE SURFER’S CODE
Surfing Etiquette applies to Everyone who wants to Surf
If you want to learn how to surf, it is essential you learn the main rules. Surfing Etiquette is a list of the unwritten laws of surfing, essential so that everyone in the water can have a good time. Ignoring these basic rules usually leads to heavy arguments, accidents or injuries, especially in crowded line-ups. Surfing Etiquette is a guide that applies to all surfers whether beginner, intermediate or advanced. One of the most influential surfers of all time, Shaun Tomson, wrote down the Surfer’s Code. An iconic book about 12 lessons he learned from surfing that apply to our daily lives.
Right of Way
The surfer closest to the peak has the right of way. Every other surfer should wait for their turn. This is a key rule of surfing etiquette. Once on the line-up, position yourself lower and wider than the crowd, wait for your turn. If you notice that the crowd doesn’t let you surf, don’t get frustrated, position yourself lower – they will always miss a couple of waves. Some surf spots are extremely popular among local surfers. Avoid these spots during its best time of the day.
This is another very important rule of surfing etiquette. By dropping in, you take off on a wave that is already being surfed, or on the inside of a surfer, which is closer to the peak than you. Dropping in on someone will ruin the wave of the other surfer, it’s like stealing the wave. Dropping in is not only annoying but also dangerous. Collisions can lead to serious injuries. If you drop in by accident, kick out immediately and do apologize.
By Snaking, you paddle around another surfer to get closer to the peak and steal the right of way. Snaking will help you make enemies in the water quickly. Our recommendation to the inpatient ones is to take it slow. Respect other surfers and gain respect in return. Remember, there are waves for everyone.
Don’t Hog the Waves
Now that you learned how to surf and can catch all the waves, it still doesn’t mean that you should take them all. The best line-ups are made up of respectful surfers who share the waves. Remember, sharing is caring, the others in the line-up also came to surf. Be friendly, patient, share the waves and the stoke.
Communication is an essential part of Surfing Etiquette, especially in a crowded line-up. The main message you might need to communicate is whether you go right, or left, commonly used on A-frame breaks. Also, when you paddle for a wave on the inside and feel that you probably won’t get it, you should give a shout to the surfers sitting below. This way the wave doesn’t go unridden, and you won’t get any hate from people who would have been able to catch it. Don’t shout your head off. Stay friendly and positive.
When paddling out to the line-up, remember to paddle wide around the impact zone. If you do not manage the take-off and fall, paddle wide – do not try to shortcut through the middle of the wave. This might take a few minutes longer, but you avoid the risk of ruining someone’s flow, or even a collision. If you get stuck in the impact zone and realize, that paddling wide won’t avoid a collision with another surfer, paddle to the inside – towards the white water, even if it means that you get slammed harder.
Respect the Locals
Always respect the local surfers when you are travelling. Be a respectful guest – don’t paddle on the inside of the local crew. Wait for your turn, there are enough waves for everyone. Embody the surfing etiquette, and don’t get frustrated. Respect creates respect, your goodwill might be rewarded.
Know Your Limits
Learning how to surf might be a wonderful journey if you avoid surf spots above your abilities. Try to be as realistic as possible evaluating your own level. If you are in doubts, ask your friends, or change location. Surfing is all about having fun, don’t put yourself unnecessary under pressure. Surfing at surf spots above one’s abilities is dangerous for the surfer himself, and the surrounding surfers.
Help other surfers
Always be ready to help other surfers in the water. When you escape a big clean-up set, look back if someone lost his board, or got stuck on the rocks. Offer help, letting the surfer take a few breaths, or even accompany him out. Look after each other – use the buddy system. Especially in bigger waves setting up a rescue team is an essential part of the preparation. Stay safe out there!
Mistakes are part of being human. If you break one of these rules by accident, remember to apologize respectfully. Even better is just to avoid situations where you need to apologize. Mistakes in surfing can cause serious injuries.
Don’t Ditch Your Board
Surfboards can turn into weapons and literally kill or heavily injure someone. If you kick out or fall, try to control your board and make sure you are not endangering others around you. Try to not release your board, under no circumstances!
Respect the Beach
Do not litter! Respect the ocean and the beach. Pick up trash you see lying around and by doing so add good karma for your surfing skills.
Don’t forget that surfing is about having fun! Stick to these guidelines, be mindful and share the stoke!