What’s the key to keeping our lineups safe and fun?
Knowing and practicing surf etiquette! Familiarizing yourself with these unwritten rules of surfing will empower you to catch more waves, surf safely, and feel confident with other surfers in the lineup. Here are 3 easy-to-remember surf etiquette tips that every surfer should know.
Tip #1: Get to know your surf level
Whether you’re brand new to surfing, or already have some experience, it’s essential to find a surf spot that suits your skill level. Surfing at a break that’s right for you is the best way to avoid unwanted surf incidents- whether that means avoiding crowded lineups, difficult waves, sharp reef, etc.
It’s certainly courageous (and can be exhilarating) to push outside of your comfort zone and surf difficult waves! However, you should only really try to push these limits once you’re completely confident that you can control your surfboard and maneuver around other surfers or obstacles in the lineup.
So what’s the best way to find a surf break that’s right for your level?
One recommendation is to talk with experienced surfers in your area. If you’re at your local beach and wondering if the break or conditions are appropriate for your level, scope out an experienced surfer who’s close by and just start chatting! Chances are, they’ll be willing to point you in the right direction. If you’re at the water’s edge trying to decide if you’ve chosen the right spot, check out the other surfers in the water. Do you see anyone riding a similar surfboard? Do you see anyone at a similar level?
Tip #2: Practice reading the “lineup”
Getting to know your own surf abilities isn’t the only piece to the puzzle. It’s also important to pay attention to other surfers in the lineup! When you’re out in the water (and even before you paddle out) you should definitely be taking mental notes on the other surfers in the water.
Which surfers are the local legends? Are there any beginners? Who is catching the most waves?
Paying attention to other surfers will help you to make better informed decisions about where to sit in the lineup and which waves to paddle for. Try to take mental notes about the surfers around you- Who is this surfer? What is their level? What kind of waves are they catching? Have I seen them surfing here before? If the local advanced shredder takes a wave, you can probably assume that they’ll ride the wave down the line and make it through most of the fast sections, so staying out of their path is always the best bet. If you’ve noticed that there’s a beginner surfer riding straight to the beach on most waves, you may be able to hop on the shoulder of their waves and get a nice ride. This practice of reading the lineup will likely help you catch more waves and feel more connected to the other surfers around you.
Tip #3: Always avoid ditching your board
If your board is 9 feet long and your leash is also 9 feet long, there’s an 18ft radius of destruction all around you. Learn how to turtle roll and do it often. It’s even fun to practice this technique with a surfboard in the pool! Don’t know how to turtle? Watch our tutorial here. It’s also important to practice how to dismount from your board at the end of your waves without launching the board into the air.
Keeping your board close by is extremely important when it comes to surf safety. If you see your surf buddies ditching their boards, spread the word! Give them the “radius” talk, then teach them how to do the turtle roll!