Surfing Etiquette


The surf zone has it’s own set of rules and codes. As more and more of us are getting into surfing, it’s important that we understand and follow these rules. If you show respect and goodwill in the water you will, in turn, earn respect.

*Choose the right surfing spot to match your ability.
If you head out into a lineup beyond your skill level, you’re likely to get frustrated. You may not catch any waves or you could end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time – putting you, or other surfers in danger.

*When paddling out, it’s your responsibility to stay out of the way of oncoming wave riders. If you are caught in the surf zone, with someone coming straight at you, don’t cut across the rider’s path in an attempt to reach the shoulder of the wave. Instead, you should paddle towards the broken wave (commit to that one direction) and deal with getting through the whitewater as best you can. Learn how to eskimo roll or duckdive to be able to get under the waves, without letting go of your board. Bailing off your board when there are others close by, is a big ‘no no’.

*Don’t “drop-in”.
It happens like this – Surfer A is closest to the curl (the breaking part of the wave). They paddle for the wave and catch it, only to find Surfer B (the dropper-in) is catching the wave further down the line. Surfer A is then blocked from making a successful ride, and may not be able to avoid running into Surfer B. This can result in damaged surfboards, injuries and anger.
Most drop-ins happen by accident, when Surfer A seems to appear from out of nowhere.  Before you commit to catching a wave, you must always look to your inside (towards the curl). Listen for a hoot or whistle from someone who may already be up and riding. If you do drop-in, you need to try to get off the wave as soon as possible, and apologise.

All surfers want to catch lots of waves, but we need to learn to take turns. Sometimes you may be at an advantage to others by having a longer board or more fitness and skill. If abused, these advantages can lead to resentment and hostility in the water.

Aggressive crowds should be avoided – move away to another part of the beach.
Remember, you’re out there to have fun and share.

3 thoughts on “Surfing Etiquette

  1. Hello,

    I would like to sign up for the Ocean Grove Saturday morning surf lessons for beginners in February. However I can only come to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd session.

    Please advise if I can do 3 sessions.

    Many thanks

  2. Hi, I have a question about dropping-in. If you’re Surfer B above, would it be ok to go for the same wave as Surfer A, if you left some distance between the two of you? Is there some element of judgement, or is it always a no-no?

    • Good question Gemma. I guess it depends on the crowd you’re surfing with….some surfers will tolerate sharing waves with you, while others will scorn you forever! As long as Surfer A has room to move around on the wave it should be O.K. It can be up to your judgement, but better to be safe than sorry, I reckon.

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