There are no written rules about surfing. Taking a guidebook out in the water with you would be absurd. However, throughout a surfer’s life, they find that there is a good way and a bad way to behave in the ocean. Knowing the proper way to act is crucial to surfing harmoniously with others. Here are the rules.
The Right of Way
If you are paddling up to a wave alongside another surfer, the surfer on the left has the right of way. This is because the left side is the closest to the peak and if the surfer on the right drops in, it can be very dangerous for both surfers. There are times when two surfers will be paddling up to a split peak but it’s expected that the surfers will go in different directions to avoid collisions.
Don’t Drop In
Dropping in refers to catching a wave ahead of someone else who has the right of way to catch the wave. This cutting is not only rude in etiquette, but can also prove dangerous for the surfer you have just blocked. Instead of rushing ahead, be patient and wait for another wave.
As paddling is important in surfing, it is important to know how to paddle correctly. When preparing to line up for the wave, paddle around the waves and away from where others are currently surfing. While this is more work and occasionally harder on wide beach breaks, it is crucial to stay out of the way of surfers to ensure you do not get run over.
Don’t Ditch Your Board
When a big wave is breaking in front of you, sometimes the easiest course of action appears to be jumping off your board and diving under. However, it is important not to ditch your board because when you ditch it, you lose control over it. This can be dangerous to other surfers around you. Instead of duck diving, have your instructor teach you how to eskimo roll.
Don’t Hog Waves
While catching waves is exhilarating, do not try to catch every one. All surfers want to catch waves, and trying to get a chance with a wave hog proves frustrating. Be patient and wait for your wave.
If You Mess Up, Own Up
Though it is important to keep these rules in mind, sometimes they are difficult to follow. In some cases, you may accidentally drop or lose your board. As long as it is not intentional and you learn from your mistake, there is no harm, especially if you are learning. If you catch someone else’s wave, be sure to apologize to the surfer and try to not make a habit out of dropping in.
While these rules may seem intimidating to follow, they are ways to keep you and other surfers safe and content. The more often you surf, the more these rules will become ingrained in your behavior.