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Surfing Etiquette and Crowds

I was discussing surfing etiquette with @doug today, after he had a minor incident yesterday in Oahu. Certainly, it’s just going to get tougher and tougher every year with increasing crowds at the best breaks. Does surf etiquette vary from location to location? Across cultures? Let’s hear from some seasoned pros, as well as some beginner’s thoughts on the topic.

Here’s a collection of articles from Surfline, called the Bill of Lefts and Rights (click link for more details).

  1. Picking the Right Location
  2. Don’t drop in on or snake your fellow surfer.
  3. When paddling out to or within a break, it’s your responsibility to stay out of the way of riders on waves.
  4. Thou shalt learn to take turns.
  5. In any surf session, respect the pre-existing vibe in the lineup.
  6. Always aid another surfer in trouble.
  7. When traveling, thou shalt respect the local surfers and their rights and customs, without forfeiting your own right to a wave.
  8. Thou shalt not use your surfing advantages to abuse your fellow surfers.
  9. At all times, be responsible for your equipment and respectful of others’.
  10. Relax, have fun, and enjoy your surfing and that of your fellow surfer.

On a related note, the supply of open ocean waves for riding via downwind paddling is unlimited. That’s one of the appeals of paddle sports like downwind SUP, downwind prone (which I had a blast on today), surf-skis, and OC-1s. Downwind paddling is like killer mountain biking, with great scenery and a connection to nature while providing a thrilling and vigorous workout.

Here’s my advice.

Check your surroundings. Smile. Use the channel rather than paddling through the lineup. Smile. Wait your turn. Smile. Don’t paddle for every wave. Give yourself some space when it’s crowded. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have respect for locals. Have fun and of course don’t drop in even if you’re smiling.

This was my brief synopsis on surfing etiquette and crowds…Though it is exactly what is required to ensure a wonderful experience for yourself and others…

So the expression “no one out” is not heard as often so etiquette is essential for your daily life regardless.

Pro surfers also must humble themselves and create a positive vibe in the water and not possess a sense of entitlement.

Also the very experienced ripper locals at their home breaks can catch pretty much catch every wave based on their experience and surf spot prowess…So collectively we all have to be very respectful and considerate to others in the water…

I do this as much as possible to create a happy cheerful vibe and if in fact I think someone is struggling or getting in the way constantly I will kindly suggest some options or in fact give them my email address to assist in their quest for surfing bliss…

Feel free to contact me at: http://www.dougsilva.com/.

Here is my 2 cents… If you are out surfing with a bunch of good surfers and you find yourself in position to take a wave and you have priority (are on the inside) then you should go no matter what. Even if at the last minute you realize you are going to have to take a very late drop and you only have a 10% chance of sticking the takeoff then you should still go for it. The other surfers will respect you for committing and going for it even if you wipeout spectacularly. That respect will equate to more waves for you in the future because of your go for it attitude. If you pull back at the last second when paddling for a wave and that stops other surfers from getting on the wave then those other surfers will likely just drop in on you next time. I see it all the time and have been guilty of it myself, it really frustrates people to see a beautiful wave go unridden because someone with priority pulled back.

Obviously in big and heavy waves sometimes a pull back is warranted. But if you are in waves of consequence then I am sure you have no problems committing.

Great point, also if you didn’t go for your turn, that means going to the back of line back in the rotation.

Hi all, Here’s a popular video (almost 700k views) that we made regarding etiquette and tips for people coming to our resort. You’ll see some constructive comments and not so constructive comments from various viewers, but if nothing else always entertaining. Mentawai Surf Etiquette and Safety Tips Cheers, Management WavePark Resort

1 Like

I just watched the video. ALL surfers should watch this.

Relative to Hawaiian breaks, I’d say:

  1. We often don’t see a “rotation” and it would be more pleasant if we did.
  2. The advice about sanding down fins does apply anywhere. See the related article on surf fins.
  3. We rarely wear booties in Hawaii, but I’m surely bring them for Indo.
  4. The advice on catching waves with more volume versus a board that rips a bit better definitely applies anywhere in the world.

@wavepark, thanks for the great tip!

Does anybody have any feeling how this video applies to the breaks in Fiji?

At Launiopoko today a large Dude with no Surf sense or Ability was taking off at the same time as a short boarder on the inside. I yelled surfer on your inside and he replied i see him and kept on paddling and losing it on the wave.

Ignorance is not a blessing…

@lpmaui, did you let him know the rules of the road?

Unfortunately i paddled to another break…