By now you all know how much I love surfing. But surfing isn’t all zen. Like any sport, rules of apply in the water. Without surfing etiquette the lineup would be total chaos. Below you’ll find 5 basic rules of surfing and they WILL save your ass. You must learn them and then learn to love them.
Rule #1 – Don’t Drop In On Another Surfer
If you are paddling for a right (a wave that is breaking to the right) and a surfer on your left is also paddling for it, you must yield to him or her.
If you are paddling for a left (a wave that is breaking to the left) and a surfer on your right is also paddling for it you must yield to him or her.
Rule #2 – The Surfer Closest To The Peak Has Right-Of-Way
The peak is the highest point of the wave. So if you’re closest to it, ride away. If not, back off.
Rule #3 – Paddling Surfer Yields To Surfer Riding Wave
When you are paddling out from the beach, don’t paddle straight into the heart of the lineup. If you do, you risk the chance of being in someone’s way when they are paddling for or surfing a wave. Instead, paddle out through a channel to the outside and THEN paddle parallel to the beach towards the lineup.
Rule #4 – Don’t Ditch Your Board
Surfboards can do serious damage to yourself and others. First of all, give yourself at least 30 feet between you and your fellow surfers. Secondly, learn to control your surfboard because you can’t just ditch it. And don’t rely on your leash because it or the leash cord could break at any time. Learn to duck dive or turtle roll so that you never have to ditch your surfboard.
Rule #5 – Don’t Be A Snake
When someone “snakes” you they are knowingly paddling around you in order to gain right-of-way on a breaking wave that you were already paddling for. Being a snake, in fact any act of being a wave hog is considered rude. When you paddle out don’t immediately paddle outside past everyone else and try to get the first wave that comes in. Like parents tell their kids, wait your turn.
Overall, surfers may seem like a mellow bunch on land, but things can ugly fast in the water. So, if you break one of these rules, definitely apologize. Localism and etiquette used to be much stricter but it’s loosened up some. But enforcement is not just an ego thing, it’s a safety thing. In fact, it can be life or death. I tend to be more zen, as do most surfers these days. We all have our breaking point, though, and safety comes first, especially when my two kids are in the water. Game on!