Lesson Number 7 (May 15-28): Surfing Etiquette

Now that its time to venture outside to ride the swells, you're gonna need to know how to behave and fit in, so as not to cause a problem once you finally do make it outside. 

Learning how to be safe out in the surf will insure you years of enjoyment and keep you free of hassles from the other surfers in the water. In order to not get into the other surfers way, it will help you to understand the rules of the road, so to speak. The main issue here is safety. Fiberglass surfboards that are traveling along at a good clip can be potentially dangerous if they come in contact with another rider or yourself. In other words, when they hit you they really, really hurt. So listen up gremmie.

Good surfing waves have a peak, somewhere in the middle of the wave usually. This is the part of the wave that will break first and is the steepest part of the forming swell. The paddler closest to this peak will have the best chance of catching the wave first and will be awarded the wave by the other interested surfers in the area. Because we always surf away from the peak and the whitewater, where the peak is will dictate which way we must go on the wave.

If another surfer is paddling for the wave and is closer to the peak, its their wave. Because the other surfer has superior position on the wave, they will catch the wave first, go flying down to the bottom and come screaming down the line as you drop in on him, CRASH !!! ... he runs you over and guess what, its your fault. So do not "drop in" on people. It shows poor form and is potentially very dangerous. It can also seem to be a show of disrespect to another individual. This can create a problem.

Thats it !! As long as you adhere to this one simple law you will never be in the wrong. After you have surfed for sometime you will realize, as I have, that there are always exceptions to any rule or law. But for now... if in doubt, give the other surfer the wave. Don’t learn the hard way. Be careful, and err to the cautious until you have had your feet wet for sometime and can make the call and the drop.

Do not surf in a big crowd or you are inviting trouble for yourself. Look, beginners do not need the best shaped, perfect wave anyway. At least not until they can appreciate it. The problem is this ... all of the great surf spots are not a secret anymore and they are already overtaxed by surfers that have bonded with these places. If you go out there and start making mistakes and you are a kook, it can get ugly. Hey, its a big ocean, so let's use the part that isn’t already overcrowded. The other breaks down the beach away from the shredders will be just fine and you can still enjoy the pure joy of surfing with just your friends, or even all by yourself. 

Good Surfing, KAHUNA BOB