Not every beach community is as hard core as it is with the Bra Boys, but the most common concern for most beginning surfers is the fear that they will run into some meat head who will beat them up for taking their wave. Although that is a rare occurrence out in the water, you still will have your fair share of “run-ins” with some local who thinks they own the ocean. This clip has an interesting perspective on localism. So should you just stay away and leave the beauty of the ocean and the spirit of surfing behind? That answer is simple, no of course not. Any time you go into the water you should follow a few guidelines that will make your surf experience and those around you safe and fun.
In the few years that I have been surfing, I have managed to learn a couple of simple surf etiquettes that insure your surfing can stay magical and rewarding. You just picked up your brand new South Coast surf board and are ready to charge your local surf spot or so you thought. After about twenty minutes of thrashing around and getting nasty looks you finally see the perfect wave and start paddling. “Kook, get out of the way” or something to that effect is all you hear as some guy buzzes by you. You first reaction is of course to give that guy a piece of your mind, he doesn’t own the ocean and that wave is just as much yours as it is his. To some extent you would be right, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when starting out.
First off, there is a unspoken hierarchy for dropping into that perfect wave. That guy might have been waiting an hour or longer for the same wave and has been surfing at that spot for years. The most important thing when starting out is to be patient. There are plenty of waves for everyone and you’ll get all you can handle. Take your turn with everyone else and you will be much more respected. Next, make sure to be polite out in the water. I don’t mean saying please and thank you, or saying excuse me after burping. Just don’t freak out or lose you cool if someone steals your wave or you can’t manage to catch anything while everyone else is looking like Kelly Slater. Fights occasionally happen and it is important to be the one enjoying the next set while others fuss about. Also important is learning about who has wave priority. All other problems with veteran surfers stem from this one area. The person who is closest to the peak of the wave or where it is breaking, (the foamy white part) has priority of the wave. If you see someone paddling into a wave and they have this position then let it go. Often you will be out of position and someone will let you have the wave so listen for them to say go ahead. When in doubt, just always wait. As you advance in your surfing you will learn how annoying it is to have someone “steal” your wave. Along with this, is making sure that you don’t drop-in on another person’s wave. This means cutting off another person who is on the wave already. Lastly, make sure to control your board after you fall or if a monster wave is coming for you and your not going to make it. Safety should always be a major concern when you go out and many new surfers think it’s ok to let their board fly around. That thing can be a weapon if not handled correctly. If you see a big wave coming when paddling out or your going over the falls, make sure to hold onto your board so someone doesn’t get wacked.
It is likely that you may accidentally “break” one of these rules, so be polite and say sorry if you do something wrong. Other minor things to consider are not being loud or obnoxious. It’s just annoying and takes away from the peaceful nature of surfing. Also, don’t be a wave hog. Most likely you’ll start out with a bigger board that catches waves easier, so share the wealth. I can’t guarantee that you’ll go out and have no problems, but if you go out with a positive attitude all the rest will fall into place. No one will be able to call you a dummy again. For all your surfing needs, check out our five South Coast locations or shop online at southcoast.com.