Surfing Etiquette

Even though surfing may seem like a drop-in sport that is partaken in on holidays, it has rules and etiquette like any other sport or activity. Even more so than some, as a solo sport. You will not know everyone surfing on the beach! If you want to become a true surfer, or even if you are just a novice; you need to understand these 10 basic rules of activity and interaction. You might be thinking that these rules are simple advisories, but it is crucial to understand just how essential they are.

Surfing in the open ocean is not without its risks, and when these basic rules are not followed, serious injury and accidents could occur; much more than a hurt feeling or simple misunderstanding. A surfboard’s nose if a dangerous piece of equipment if not handled properly. Surf etiquette applies across the board (pun intended), to all levels from novice to advanced surfer. Respect others and enjoy your surfing experience! 

If you comply with the rules, Surfing is a great chance to make new friends!

Basic Surfing Etiquette: 10 Simple Rules

1. Right of Way

Just like driving, surfing involves the principle of ‘right of way’. In the open ocean, the surfer who is closest to the peak in front always gets priority. Failure to abide to this rule could result in serious injury; so always keep your eyes open for other surfers around you! 

2. Don’t Drop In 

The easiest way to think about this next rule is the ratio of 1:1. One person to one wave. For the majority of waves, and as a general rule; two surfers should not ride the same wave in the same direction. This principle closely links to the ‘right of way’ principle above. As Robert Philips, a travel writer for Draft Beyond and Research papers UK, said, “When either of these rules are disrespected, it is considered extremely disrespectful, as you at best you are ruining a wave for someone who had priority; and at worst you could be really endangering that person.” As a general rule, do to others what you would like to be done to you! 

Strike a pose!

3. Don’t Snake

Snaking is a common and very frowned upon behaviour in surfing. They occur in crowded line-ups for a wave; and it involves paddling in and around other surfers who were in front of you, in order to gain a better position close to the potential peak. Patience is key! There are waves for everyone; do not snake. 

4. Don’t Get in the Way

Try as much as you can to paddle wide and not get in the way. Similarly to driving, it involves staying in a lane which is not causing other people to falter on their course. As a novice, it may mean letting an advanced surfer through ahead. 

5. The Furthest Out Gets Priority

The ‘furthest out’ surfer should always receive priority when it comes to waves. Although this may cause slight bias towards longboarders, it is a good rule to follow generally. In short, this rule means using your common sense in most circumstances.

Most surf classes start with a beach class on the sand

6. Do Not Throw Your Board

As I stated in the introduction, surfboards are dangerous pieces of equipment and must be handled with care. Juliana Childs, a water sports blogger at Writinity and Last minute writing, noted that, “It is important to always wear a leash and try not to ditch or lose your board. If you wipe out, quickly try and regain control of your board. Surfboards can be fatal if they strike at certain points on the human body.”

7. Communicate What Will You Do

Communication is key! Just like with any other sport, communication is so important. If two surfers are in similar positions near a wave or peak; or have the potential to collide, swift communication of your plans will keep you both safe.

8. Do Not Dive Head-First 

Never go anywhere headfirst! Though this may seem obvious, it is important to remember that it is so easy to get hurt when surfing, and reef or coral around the beach is sharp. Protect your head and stay smart.

Keep your playground clean. Respect of the environment is a rule of law for surfers.

9. Respect the Beach and the Ocean 

Respect of the environment is a rule of law for surfers. Surfing is so much fun, but no one wants to paddle out on a beach full of garbage from yesterday’s surfers, do they? Respect the beach and the ocean, and always leave a place better than you found it.

10. Give Respect to Gain Respect 

This is key in any interaction, but mutual respect is particularly important to the surfing community. Give respect to locals especially if you are a visitor in their area, and always be polite when interacting with other surfers. 

Have fun surfing!

All of these rules will hopefully help you in your ventures out into the surfing world and help keep the surfing community a fun and enjoyable place to be. Happy surfing! 

About the Author

Ashley Halsey is a blogger and online article writer for Lucky Assignments Liverpool and Gum Essays, who is constantly involved in projects all over the world. She is also a mother to two beautiful daughters; and enjoys travelling and reading with them by her side.

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