The waves belong to all of us – experienced riders, novice riders, and those of all ages who are just picking up their boards and hitting the surf for the first time. As surfers, we are a community unlike any other – brothers, sisters all. For many of us, the ocean is a second home. For others, the ebb and flow is part of a meditation. It’s safe to say that each of us – young or old, experienced or floundering – has a great deal of respect for the water. Given that notion, we must learn to share as much as we take from the waves beneath our boards.
Since the blog section of the WaveHuggers site aims to educate visitors on aspects of surfing and how to best protect the inherent peace and tranquility of the ocean, it may be best to launch our WaveHuggers blog with an article on surfing etiquette.
Surfing etiquette, simply put, is a set of rules or guidelines that, when followed, allow all surfers to act or behave in a manner that shows respect for the waves and the other surfers. If you’re new to surfing, you may have heard a few cardinal rules from an instructor, a buddy, or, in some cases, another surfer who shouted them out as you paddled into the middle of a packed lineup (Oops!). Here are a few surfing etiquette rules you may want to keep in mind the next time you reach the beach:
1. Don’t drop in. Arguably, this may be the most important rule in surfing etiquette. Basically, “dropping in” means that you’re taking on a wave that someone else is already riding. The danger here is that the surfer with the right of way may collide with you (And you don’t want that!). Surfing etiquette states that the right of way belongs to the surfer closest to the breaking part of the wave or the first surfer to get to their feet.
2. Don’t snake. The term “snaking” is used to describe surfers who deliberately paddle inside (or across) another surfer as they are trying to catch the wave. If there is somebody on the inside of you, it’s their wave.
3. Don’t throw or ditch your board. If you’re going to surf, you must learn to control your board. Surfboards are large enough and heavy enough to do some serious damage to anyone who takes one to the noggin. And keep in mind that a leash is no guarantee of safety. Your leash cord may snap or break at any time during a ditch. If a big set is headed your way and you begin to freak out, do a duck dive or a turtle roll to get past a breaking wave safely.
4. Be courteous. Give a shout-out when you have the right of way – if it’s not obvious, let other surfers know that you are taking off or already have the wave. And if you’ve made an error while just learning to surf – or if you’re an experienced surfer who made an honest mistake – don’t be afraid to apologize. We’ve all been there. It’s cool.
5. If you give respect, you will get respect. The following are a few other tips to help you earn and keep your respect in the lineup. Nobody likes a wave hog. Learn to control your equipment. Don’t paddle into the middle of a packed lineup. Help out when you can, because some are less experienced. Share the ocean and the good vibes that come with it.
We’ll see you out on the water!