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Surf Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

Although surfing is classed as a  “free sport” there’s still a code of conduct and certain do’s and don’ts to abide by when you’re in the surf. Most of the surf etiquette only requires common sense but sometimes it can all get a little confusing especially during the busy summer months when water users increase. Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to how to be a respectful surfer.

If you’ve ever been dropped in on you will know how annoying it is, so don’t do it to someone else. If you can see that someone is clearly in position and is going for the wave, let them have it; there will always be another wave. The more experienced surfers should be able to determine whether they will either make the drop or past the section. This is where you have to use your surfing knowledge and make a quick decision. Accidents do happen so sometimes we drop in on people without noticing. If this happens the best thing to do is try and pull off or get out of there way and say you’re sorry. Most people will understand and if they’re not then just leave them to it, they’re probably just having a bad day.

This can often be quite confusing, especially if you’re a newcomer to the sport. As a general rule, the person closest to the peak of the breaking wave has priority but there can be some exceptions to the rule. For example, if you’ve been out back waiting for a wave for a while, you’re closest to the peak and you drop in but as you’re on the wave someone else drops in behind you the reality is you still have priority.  If the peak is split then communication is key. Call “Left!” or “Right!” this way you can give the other surf a clear idea of which way you’re going, allowing them to do the opposite.

Surfing can be quite a lonely sport from time to time so it’s nice to spread the good vibes from time to time. Next time you’re in the surf, smile at the person beside to you.

No one likes a surfer who snakes the lineup! If you’ve never heard this term before a surfer who snakes is basically someone who weaves in and out of everyone taking priority every time and essentially not waiting for his or her turn. Sometimes it’s hard not to do as you’re so excited about getting waves but try an be respectful of others in the lineup. We all want to get waves so let’s share them around.

If you’re surfing a new break be respectful. There is bound to be locals that surf this wave nearly every day and who know it inside out. Gradually work your way to the main peak or find another peak nearby. Don’t paddle straight for the pack and expect the get all the waves. There’s always a little pecking order in the water and this is something you need to be respectful of.

Paddling out can be tricky sometimes, especially when it’s busy and there are lots of people catching waves. Trying to avoid people and also not mess up any waves for someone can sometimes be unavoidable but as a general rule when paddling out aim for the whitewater. If someone is on the wave head for the part of the wave that has just broken and duck dive under that rather than paddling to the unbroken wave.

You should only ever leave footprints on the beach, so remember to take all your rubbish with you! We need to clean up our beaches and oceans and we have to start somewhere.

For more surf tips, get the SurfGirl Handbook here.

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