Surfing, just like any other activity, has its own rules of etiquette. Those that abandon or refuse to become familiar with surfing's rules of etiquette do so at their own peril. With that said, here's a quick rundown on some of the basics:
Respect the Locals
Don't wander into an unfamiliar surf spot and act like you own the place. It's akin to walking into a stranger's home and helping yourself to a ham sandwich and a beverage. Such actions never result in positive outcomes. Think about it. If you want the local surfers to respect you, you have to show them respect in kind. Respect should also be shown to the non-surfers and others.
Respect the Environment
Without beaches and oceans, there would be no surfing. Therefore, both should be treated with the utmost amount of respect. That means picking up your trash before you head for home and reminding others to do the same. It also means respecting the ocean's power and the others that call it home. One way to show respect is to leave any nests or other signs of marine life that you find undisturbed. Another way to show respect is to participate in beach clean-ups and advocate for eco-friendly issues.
Wait Your Turn
Nobody likes a line cutter. That was true back when you were in kindergarten and it is still true to this day. Therefore, don't try to snake, dog or drop in on another surfer's waves. It's just bad form. The ocean is a big place and there are plenty of waves to go around. You just need to be patience and observe wave priority. If you are unfamiliar with wave priority, you should focus on learning the basics. In a non-competitive setting, wave priority often goes to the surfer that is closest to the breaking section of the wave. However, it can also go to the surfer that has been waiting the longest or to the first surfer to reach a standing position.
Know When to Apologize
Don't be an Arthur Fonzarelli. Learn to say you're sorry when you screw up by dogging, snaking or dropping in on another surfer's wave. In my opinion, failure to apologize for infractions of surfing etiquette is sometimes worse than the infraction itself. After all, it's not uncommon for a new surfer to get swept up in the exuberance caused by an awesome set of waves and forget his or her manners. That's understandable. What's not understandable is not accepting responsibility for one's actions after the fact.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys water sports with her family. She also has a history of interviewing pro surfers.
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