Proper Surfing Etiquette and Surf Conduct

As long as surfing has been real popular (1960’s and later) surfers have to be aware of others in the lineup or in the ocean. Surfing became rather popular from the music of the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and the Ventures (to name a few). One thing that has happened is that more and more surfers started showing up at beaches everywhere. Being aggressive by nature and territorial, surfers get into altercations with each other over waves or riding waves with other surfers on them. Not all surfers are alike, but one thing we do have in common is that we had to learn just like everyone else had to.

Early surfing civilization has a scarcity of crowds, not that many people were in the water at the same spot, at the same time. Well have times changed! Today there are thousands and thousands of surfers from all different walks of life. Some surfers are very young, while some are well not so young any more. On any given weekend with head high surf and glassy conditions it looks like an ant farm from the sky with all the surfers sitting in the lineup waiting, paddling,  and catching waves. It’s a jungle out there, but one thing is true that the majority of surfers do pay respect for other surfers when it comes to wave riding.

Proper surfing etiquette consists of not dropping in on the surfer who already is up and riding the wave, another term is “shoulder hopping, cutting me off, and dropping in on”. When I as well as all others began surfing we had to learn to pay respect for those who came before us, and those who were better at surfing than we all were. Time may have changed, but the surfer’s code for respect has not. Nowadays it’s very important with the high numbers of surfers in the water to be very respectful of those who have better board riding skills.

First thing is not to drop in on your fellow surfer while he or she is riding the wave. If you take off on a fellow surfer, you might be in for a real ass whooping. Surfer’s are very territorial and they don’t want you on their wave with them. Surfer’s want to ride their own wave to themselves. Anything that you do to infringe on that will get you into some real trouble. So what ever you do, don’t drop in someone who’s already riding the wave. Be respectful and wait you turn.

There 3 different types of surf breaks around surfing’s great wonderful world. Beach break, point break, and reef break. Each of these breaks have different styles of wave riding. A beach break is very common around the world and it allows for many surfers spread out over many miles of coastline with crowding at one local spot only in times of real good surf. Yes there are some locations that are more popular than others, and therefore the crowds will be heavier more often. Point breaks are sometimes a real hassle and are very competitive due to a very narrow takeoff area. Many surfers are grouped into packs (like dogs) and let the paddle battle begin. The better, more aggressive surfers will have the upper hand on these waves, so yield to them or else. Reef breaks are the most dangerous of all the break types. Fast moving water surges over the reef forming a very dangerous wave. In Hawaii when the surf hits 8 to 10′ the numbers of surfers in the water decline at an exponential rate, but below 6′ it’s a zoo out there (north shore-winter months, south shore-summer months). You’ll find surfers jockeying for best position for the take off.

If you want to survive out in the ocean, you must learn the proper etiquette for surfers or get the pooh beaten out of you. Don’t take off without looking in both directions. If you see someone up and riding, DON’T GO!! If you are paddling out, take the whitewater on the head instead of trying to make it to where the surfer will hit the lip and interfere with him or her. No your limitations and don’t try to exceed your comfort zone, I’ve seen one surfer drive right over another when someone drops in on another. Board damage and personal damage comes from these encounters. Don’t go surf the most crowded spots on the map. Learn proper surfing before attempting to compete for those waves. Become more knowledgeable and learn board control skills before making the wrong decision which could last a lifetime. Be respectful of others in the water and don’t be a dick. Hopping others will lead to violence in many areas of the surfing globe, and there’s no reason for this. Try and get along and take turns. Yes I know that great waves are not always available, but when there are share them and your surfing will go a long way.

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