The practice of proper surf etiquette is like an oath you take in court, you must also follow the law of the ocean. By not practicing proper surf etiquette beginners and even more experienced riders run the risk of injury and banishment from a local surf sports.
1. When one is on the inside give thy right of way.
Simple, if someone is paddling onto the same wave as you and they are closest to the peak – it’s their wave, they have the priority. -But there is variations to this rule – if, at the last second, someone purposely paddles on the inside of you and scoops up the wave even though you are on the inside, they do NOT have right of way. This is called ‘snaking’ a wave.
2. So, for number two: Thou shall not snake one’s wave.
3. Thou shall not drop in.
‘Dropping in’ is something you will see at crowded beaches quite often and can cause serious surf rage. If someone has right of way and is riding or about to get on to a wave it is THEIR wave. If you get on the same wave – you are dropping in.
Don’ t be tempted by the quality of the wave or their experience level – it is their wave, be fair.
4. Thou shall communicate with thy fellow oceangoers.
If you do accidently drop in, or snake someone, or get in someone’s way, show respect and apologise.
Or if the conditions look a bit dodgy or dangerous, ask someone in the water or checking the surf their opinion – their advice might prevent you having a potentially hazardous surf.
5. If the conditions look unsafe or out of your league – don’t go out.
6. Thou shall not paddle in the way of another surfer.
Although sometimes it may be difficult to avoid, try to paddle BEHIND the surfer on the wave. Paddling wide away from the break will prevent this from happening. For example, if I am surfing and you are paddling out, you do not want to paddle in front of me on the unbroken wave – you need to paddle behind me.
It is YOUR responsibility to get out of the way – not theirs.
7. Thou shall not ditch thy board.
So if you have deliberately disobeyed rule number five of surf etiquette and went out despite the conditions being out of your league and you are unable to duckdive/turtle roll – DON’T DITCH YOUR BOARD.
Hold on to your board for dear life - and let the ocean ragdoll you until the lull.
In order to avoid any potentially dangerous situations here are a few techniques to help out:
8. Thou shall not hog the waves.
So you’ve uncovered the immense strength of your SUP or longboard, yes, the waves are super easy to get on to with more buoyant boards – but share the waves for the rest of the line-up. Respect to be respected.
9. Thou shall split thy peaks.
So this can only be done on certain peaks - A-frame waves. With the wave breaking both left and right, communicate with fellow surfers and decide who is taking either side. “Going left”, “Going right” is sufficient.
In the meantime, grab a board and go enjoy the surf!