Surfing etiquette is one of the most important things to know and learn before you decide to surf. It is a code of conduct created to maintain a safe and happy environment in the water.
Rule # 1: Right of Way
Just like when driving a car, you must know who and when someone has the right of way. The surfer closest to the peak when paddling for a wave has the right of way. This means, before choosing to take a wave, check to make sure the way is clear. If you are paddling for a right (a wave that breaks towards the right) and someone to your left is also paddling for the same wave, you must yield to that surfer. He/she has the right of way.
In an a-frame wave (a wave that breaks both left and right, aka a surfers dream wave), take note of where the peak is and what side of the peak you are sitting on. If you choose to paddle for a wave, make sure you have chosen the right direction (to avoid collision), and make sure once again that no one else is sitting closest to the peak. Learning to read the wave and where the peak is, is a highly important thing to learn when surfing.
If you're riding a wave, and there is another surfer approaching you from another wave, kick out (pull out) of the wave to avoid collision. Don't jump off your board, or the other oncoming surfer will run over it and potentially damage each board or injure the surfer(s).
Rule #2: Don’t Drop In
Still along the line of Rule # 1, this is probably the most important part of surfing etiquette. Dropping in means that someone with the right of way is either about to take off or is already riding a wave, and you also take off on the same wave in front of him or her. This blocks his ride down the line, and is extremely frustrating and dangerous.
Rule #3: Paddling Rules:
Don’t paddle straight through the heart of the lineup where people are surfing; instead, paddle out through the channel where the waves aren’t breaking and people aren’t surfing. Sometimes at spread out beach breaks this is hard, but usually there is a less crowded area to paddle through.
When paddling out to the lineup, do NOT paddle in front of someone riding a wave, go behind them and either duck dive or turtle roll the white wash to avoid collision.
Rule #4: Don't Ditch Your Board
This is important, especially when it gets crowded. Always try to maintain control and contact with your board. Surfboards are large, heavy, and hard. Letting go of your board can easily lead to injury or a damaged board.
Rule #5: Don´t snake
“Snaking” is when a surfer paddles around another surfer in position, and effectively paddles in a “s” to get himself/herself in position to be in the right of way for a wave. This isn't necessarily hazardous, just disrespectful. Patiently wait your turn and the surfing line up will run smoothly and happily.
Rule # 6: Beginners: Don't paddle out back to the middle of the line up
If you’re a beginner you should try to avoid paddling out into the middle of a pack of experienced veterans. Try to go out to a less crowded beginner break. Only paddle out back when you are fully aware of surfing etiquette; if you are taking waves, and always wiping out, you will only annoy the other surfers for “wasting the wave”.
Rule #7: Don't be a wave hog
Just because you can catch all the waves doesn’t mean you should. This generally applies to longboarders, kayakers, or stand up paddlers. Since it’s easier to catch waves on these watercrafts, it becomes tempting to catch them all, leaving nothing for shortboarders on the inside. Give a wave, get a wave.
Rule #8: Respect the beach
Don’t litter. Pick up your garbage, and try to pick up a few pieces of trash before you leave even if it’s not yours. Take pride in the beach and the ocean you are using, it’s a free playground and we should all take responsibility in keeping it clean!
Surfing is a beautiful sport, but we need to all brush up and be aware of the surfing etiquette to maintain a sense of fluidity in the line up! If we had no rules, there would be many injuries and broken boards. Respectively learn the rules and everyone will be happy! Yeww!
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