Posts Tagged surfing etiquette

Surfing etiquette for newbies

by Kristi Launder in Dos & Don'ts | No Comments »

Being surfers, and with the lifestyles we tend to lead, we’re general non-conformists and don’t like to hear the word “rules”. But there is a certain surfing etiquette that should be adhered to, firstly, because it works, it’s polite and respectful to other surfers and secondly due to safety and security.

For any surfer just starting out, especially a surfergirl, it can be incredibly daunting, not knowing if you’re in the way or not, too scared to paddle for a wave because it might be “someone else’s” and too much time just sitting in the backline trying not to upset anyone. So here is a very basic outline to have a bit more insight as to what is expected in our aquatic playing field…

Naturally, after a few sessions we tend to teach ourselves about what’s “right or wrong” out there, a certain energy… you could get an angered, red-eyed stare if you “drop-in” on someone, or the disappointment in the face of someone whose wave you just couldn’t get out of the way of – the gash in your board or the bump on your head. Basic manners is a good start.

-Smile/greet other surfers in the line-up, this will already create a better vibe/energy for your session and possibly make you a new friend.

-If you have just paddled out, do not proceed to paddle for the next wave, let the surfer chicks who have been waiting longer catch a couple before you go for it, unless NO ONE is going for it, then cool – go crazy!

-Generally the first person on the wave, to their feet, has priority of the wave. Long-boarders and SUP’ers tend to have the first pick as they are the furthest out and can catch the wave sooner, but the etiquette from their side entails letting a couple of waves pass by, or pulling out of the wave halfway so that the surfers who sit closer to shore can score a couple of rides too.

-Every so often, you will find yourself in a rotating pecking order, which works very well. The person closest to the peak goes first, then the next in line and so on, when you paddle pack from a wave, you join the back of the queue and this works quite smoothly, especially at pointbreaks.

-Go right on a wave that is breaking right, and left on a wave breaking left. Two surfers can catch the same wave if they are going in different directions, communication is key. Shout “Left” or “I’m going right!”

-Don’t paddle around someone and snatch the wave from their inside. This is called snaking. Don’t be one of those surfers, don’t be that one surf ninja that people can’t stand. Just remember how small the surfing community can be, how often you will see the same people in the backline. Keep an upstanding reputation.

-The exact same thing applies to dropping in. This is probably the worst thing you can do out there and SOOOO disappointing if you are the one being dropped in on. If somebody is on a wave, do not catch the wave in front of them… As tempting as it can be. Simple. Karma – if you do this, it will definitely end up happening to you TEN-fold. However, if someone DOES drop in on you, carry on surfing your wave, let the aggression go… and then calmly remind about them about the rules.

-As surfergirls, we tend to be hesitant to even paddle for a wave if other people are also going for it. Chances are rare to get a wave completely to yourself. But then if everyone else misses it and you could have got it, you’ll be kicking yourself! So paddle for it and then commit only once the others have missed it. If they get on to the wave first then be sure to pull back on the reins and get out of the way!

-In keeping with staying out of the way, when paddling out/back, paddle into the white white-foamy, breaking part of the wave when someone is surfing the wave, or paddle wide far out of their way.

– If you’re surfing a wave, be aware of other surfers around you and don’t just jump off your board, leaving it to boomerang out. If there are surfers close around you, turn towards the shore and surf the broken wave straight for a bit until you’re in the clear.

Surfing etiquette

It’s basic manners and respect out there. Mishaps obviously happen, but it’s best to try and avoid them. Surfing is about having fun, and I suppose that is the ULTIMATE SURFING RULE – HAVE FUN! So push that factor to the maximum, but without being selfish about it. The ocean tends to humble and remind us about how to be. So in the end, if you don’t have a cool attitude in the water, the ocean will teach you a lesson or two, guaranteed.

And, for the surf chicks, don’t be scared to stand your ground. Once you know your surfing rule book and you’re comfortable with it, be sure to stand up for yourself, be vocal and don’t allow yourself to get bullied off a wave or paddled around – “You can say NO!” Or shout it.

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