Surfing 101

Illustration by Catherine Baumhauer

We’d like to do everything we can to encourage boarders: in the water, on the slopes, and on the street. Get out there, have fun—and play nice. That means practicing good etiquette. Hey, everyone is allowed to make mistakes, but following these simple rules will help keep you, and those around you, safe.

The rules of the waves:

Don’t drop in. Dropping in is when you take off on a wave that another surfer is already up and riding. Don’t do it—ever.

Observe the right of way. If you and another surfer are paddling for the same wave, the surfer closest to the peak of the wave (where it is breaking) has the right of way. If the wave is breaking both left and right, it is okay for two surfers to take off—one left and one right (just make sure you know where you’re both going!) If two surfers have taken off on the same wave and are heading towards one another, neither has the right of way and you should pull out.

Don’t stay inside. Don’t hang out in the inside section (where the waves have already broken) when other surfers are riding. You are sure to get in the way. Paddle out to the line-up. If you are still learning in the whitewater, find an empty section of the beach.

Be mindful when paddling out. Don’t paddle out in the take-off zones in front of other surfers. If it is a point break, you can paddle around the break. At a beach break you may have to paddle out through the whitewater to avoid other surfers.

Don’t ditch. Hang onto your board at the end of a ride and when turtling or duck-diving. If you let go, it could hit a surfer paddling up behind you. (That said, don’t paddle out directly behind other surfers!)

Know before you go. Know about the location before you paddle out. If you’re a beginner, stick to location that will support your needs. You don’t want to get in over your head!

Share waves. Another set will always come, so share waves with the other surfers out there. Do not be a wave hog.

Respect the ocean. Finally. . . leave the ocean as you found it. Don’t litter! Be sure to always pick up after yourself and take a moment each time you’re out there to dispose of garbage you find on the beach.

 

Also read about Skateboarding and Snowboarding Etiquette

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