The Top 10 Rules Of Surfing

Surfing is a surface water sport in which a person rides the face of a moving wave which will carry him or her toward the shore. It is extremely popular for people who live close to the ocean, as when there are big clean waves people love to go out and catch a couple of them. The origin of surfing is uncertain, but it was first observed by Europeans on a ship in Tahiti back in 1767. Surfing dates back to ancient Polynesian cultures long ago. The chief of a tribe was the man who could surf best, meaning the most skilled surfer was the leader of his community. That shows how important surfing was in the lives of ancients back in the day. Surfing is extremely popular in places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Australia. That is often where you will find the best surfers, as it is where the best conditions are in terms of waves.

What are the most important rules of surfing?

  1. Don’t Drop In
  2. Stay Out of the Way When Paddling
  3. Right of Way
  4. Don’t Ditch Your Board
  5. Avoid Hostility
  6. Be Patient
  7. Communicate
  8. Know How to Handle a Riptide
  9. Respect the Beach and Ocean
  10.  Have Fun!

1. Don’t Drop in

Surfing is an extremely dangerous sport. A very important method in keeping it safe is for surfers to avoid collisions at all costs. Therefore, the general rule of thumb is: one man/woman, one wave. In almost all cases, you can not have more than won surfer riding on the same wave in the same direction. 

Not only are you putting yourself and others in danger when you disrespect the right of way rule, but you are also ruining the surf session for those around you. The person who you just dropped in on wants to catch the wave just as much as you do. When you drop in, you are ruining a wave for someone else just like you, who also enjoys surfing. There is always going to be another wave, so just relax, take a deep breath, and wait your turn. Sometimes beginners drop-in by mistake. Accidents happen, but it is important to immediately apologize if this happens when you are out in the water.

2. Stay out of the Way When Paddling

When you are paddling from the beach out to where the waves are breaking, it is important to stay out of the way of other surfers. You do not want to paddle straight into the heart of the lineup. If you do this, you risk the chance of being in someone’s way when they are catching a wave. What you want to do is paddle out through a channel to the outside and then paddle parallel to the beach once you are even with the lineup of surfers.

If a surfer is catching a wave and you are paddling towards him, you need to paddle behind the surfer and get hit by the whitewash or duck dive underneath it. While it seems easier to just go over the shoulder of the wave, it is important to avoid any sort of risk of ruining the wave of the other surfer. Even the slightest risk justifies this rule.

3. Right of Way

Right of Way is a very important rule to be aware of in surfing. The surfer who is closest to the peak of the wave always has the right of way. If you are paddling for a right hand wave, and the person to your left is also paddling for it, then you must yield to him or her.

If the surfer riding a wave gets closed out or wimes out, the next surfer is allowed to take off. You are not allowed to take off between the curl/whitewater and the surfer if someone is riding a wave. It may lead to a collision which will not be good for anyone involved. The bottom line is always yield to the person next to you.

4. Don’t Ditch Your Board

As mentioned, incidents such as collisions can really increase the risk of severe injury when all rules are not followed. If you want to paddle out in any lineup, it is vital to learn how to control the surfboard at all times. If you plan on ditching your board at any point when a big set comes, you are not allowed to paddle out. Surfboards are very large and heavy. They also have sharp fins attached to them, which can cause serious damage to another person’s board who himself. Do not rely on the leash because if it can break at any time. If you want to paddle out, you need to learn how to duck dive or turtle roll so you never ditch your board.

Give yourself distance from other surfers, and always stay to the left or to the right of them. Give yourself thirty feet of distance, in case he or she ditches the board which may harm you or your board.

5. Avoid Hostility

There are going to be days in the water where it is extremely crowded. There will be beginners, kayakers, bodyboarders, and longboarders all catching waves that you also want to catch. It is going to get a little frustrating. Sometimes, people are going to get aggressive and drop in creating hostility in the water.

The best surf days are always the days where everyone takes turns and nobody is disrespecting each other. If you are a local and somebody is out of town surfing at the beach, be welcoming. If you are a tourist visiting a beach and going surfing, respect the locals and maybe even get to know them.

Be patient with everybody and do not get mad at people for catching waves that you also want to catch. Just because you might have the ability to catch every wave, it does not mean that you should.

6. Be Patient

Surfing is one of the most difficult and complex sports in the world. It is extremely challenging to get the hang of things, and it is going to take a long time to master the basic movements as well as gain knowledge about the currents and breaks. It is important to understand that learning is going to take time, and you will not be ready to go out on a six foot day with everybody else if it is only your third day. For everyone’s safety you are going to want to sit that day out and leave it to the more experienced surfers.

You are going to want to go out on days where it is really small, or stay close to shore and catch the white water for practice on standing up. When you are practicing, try not to get frustrated with yourself. You are going to want to immediately be as good as everyone else but that is not realistic. You need to be patient and keep practicing and eventually you will be ready to go out with the veterans.

7. Communicate

When you are out past the break on a really crowded day, it is really important to communicate with those around you. For example, sometimes a person has a right of way for a wave, but may decide not to catch in. If you are next in line, he can yell for you to go out and catch it, allowing you to enjoy the wave. Everybody communicating with each other will also create a safe environment and ensuring that no one will injure themselves.

There are also cases where an A-frame wave appears, where two surfers could go catch the wave at the same time going in different directions. If they communicate which direction they are going, then they can both safely enjoy the wave without wasting what the wave had to offer.

8. Know How to Handle a Riptide

The ocean can be pretty dangerous, and rip currents are a big part of surfing. People are caught in riptides every day, and if you know how to react to being caught in one, you should not panic. A rip is a strong current that goes straight out to sea. They can be pretty dangerous, but luckily, you will have a surfboard with you at all times.

If you are ever caught in a riptide, you should paddle across the rip, never against it. You will eventually reach a point where the rip is not very strong, and you can start to paddle back toward the beach safely.

9. Respect the Beach and the Ocean

The beach is a beautiful piece of nature that people travel miles to go visit. It is very important to treat it with the utmost respect. When you are leaving, try and give back to mother nature for the hours of fun that you just had. If you see a piece of trash, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Never leave your trash behind you, as it is not only extremely disrespectful, but can lead to a hefty fine. 

You want to be able to continue surfing for the rest of your life, and if the beaches do not stay clean, then the water can get contaminated and unsurfable. That is something all people should want to avoid.

10. Have Fun!

Obviously, there are a lot of rules that you need to be aware of when you are surfing out in the ocean. While it is extremely important to stay safe, it is just as important to have fun! If you are not enjoying yourself out in the water, what was even the point of paddling out? There is a famous quote that states, “the best surfer in the water is the one who is having the most fun”.

Surfing is one of the most enjoyable sports in the world to some people. If you are out there having a good time, then the positivity will spread with everybody else in the lineup.