Unspoken Surfing Rules You Need to Know
There are a lot of unspoken rules when it comes to the etiquette of surfing, many of which should be voiced to new-coming surfers. These basic principles are important to grasp before getting in the water. Surfing etiquette not only keeps everyone happy and sharing the waves, but it exists for safety reasons, too.
Accidentally dropping on someone will not result in being ousted by an angry mob from the beach. However, people may be annoyed if you are surfing with no regard for others. The waters can be dangerous, and the summer months bring tourists who are not privy to the etiquette. Be sure to help other novice surfers to learn some of these important rules.
A “drop-in” happens when someone cuts off another surfer that is already riding the wave you just mounted. This is considered the ultimate tool move. You are creating the opportunity for injury, but drop-ins usually wreck the wave the other surfer was trying to ride. Some extend the definition of dropping in to jumping on the wave in front or adjacent to someone else who has the right of way.
Drop-ins are dangerous. For one, if you drop in, you have the possibility of cutting off or colliding with someone else. You are also blocking the other person’s ride and potentially his or her line of sight.
When you need to paddle your board, never move straight through the center of a group of people, a surfing lineup, or a wave. Instead, paddle your board through the channel where the waves are not breaking against the shore. Best case scenario is you avoid people altogether.
If you need to paddle out to mount the board, never paddle in front of someone that is riding a wave behind you. All paddling should be done behind others who are riding the wave. If they come near, you should be prepared to submerge. Be sure to find a way to get over the wave to avoid getting hit in the head.
Snaking is the process of paddling so you put yourself between a surfer and another wave. Never, ever do this.
Learn the Right of Way
The Golden Rule of surfing is that the person closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. In other words, if you and another person have your eye on the same wave, whoever is closest to the crest gets it. This is why avoiding drop-ins and paddling around others are such respected rules.
This rule manifests itself in other ways, too. For instance, if a surfer is already on top of a wave, then the last thing you want to do is try to ride the tail or swerve into a late takeoff. If the other surfer wants to cutback, you both could be horribly injured.
In the case of split peaks, where two surfers are on both sides of the same cresting wave, neither surfer should lift off from behind the peak. Both surfers can ride the wave as long as they move their boards in opposite directions.
If you do mess up, simply apologize. People will understand if you make a mistake, especially if you are starting out. It all comes down to paying attention to what the other surfers are doing and using common sense. The most important rule is to have fun!