To become a surfer is not enough to learn how to properly use your surfboard and catch the waves. Because surfing represents the way of life for those who practice it, it is also about learning and respecting some of the basic rules around surfing called “surf etiquette”.
They are not hard, they are not boring, and do not keep you from doing what you like, love, and want to do, but they do serve as a nice guideline on how to behave to be accepted and respected in the surfing circles.
Also, their purpose is to help you not just understand the beauty of surfing, but also to appreciate good sportsmanship, learn how to be fair and how to act in a community. There is no special order you should learn them, they could vary from place to place, some could even have their own, but in the end, it all comes to the same principle – respect the others, and they will respect you.
1. Do Not Drink And Surf
Surfing is not easy. It will include lots of falling and requires a lot of concentration. Also, the surfing board is quite heavy, especially for the beginners, so it could seriously hurt someone.
Add numbed senses of sight, hearing, and touch alcohol causes and your coordination could be seriously damaged. Alcohol also affects your balance, can cause hypothermia because it increases blood flow, not to mention it could slow down your reflexes or make your risk perception wrong.
It is by far a better idea to drink after you’re done and to talk about the waves and the feeling of being out there, than to be sorry because you’ve misjudged something and caused an accident you’d easily avoid when sober.
2. Respect The Priority
The rule says – “The surfer closest to the breaking wave or is farther outside, away from the shore has the priority”. Don’t rush, if you see that the wave is taken, wait for another, it will come. Waves come non-stop, so be patient, don’t push in line, and you’ll earn the respect of the others.
Of course, surfing gathers different types of people, and some will ignore the rules and try to “snake”, which most of the surfing world sees as a disrespectful attitude. Snake happens when someone claims another surfer’s wave by pedaling inside while the other surfer is waiting for the wave to break.
Also, this could happen if you’re surfing on a location where locals think they have priority on every single wave. If you want to avoid the fight, be patient, and wait for your shot, there are enough waves for everybody or change the location. And if you want to try and be the snake, be careful because it could really piss off some of the other surfers.
3. Practice Holding And Throwing Your Surfboard
One of the first things you should learn about surfing is when to stick to your surfboard and when to throw it away. For example, if you’re paddling out, hold onto it, and you’ll get back to the line-up quickly and you’ll also keep those who are paddling behind you safely.
On the other hand, if the wave is about to wipe you out, get rid of it. We’ve already mentioned, the board is quite heavy and if you fall together it could injure you.
4. Don’t Force It If You Don’t Feel Comfortable
Surfing is fun until you enjoy it and makes you move your boundaries further and further, but it could be extremely dangerous if you take on more than you can “eat”. It is OK to skip a wave if you don’t think you could make it. As time goes by, you’ll learn, become better, and improve. But to achieve that you have to take care of yourself and stay healthy.
5. Don’t Surf Under The Unknown Conditions Or Bad Weather
If you’re going to surf at some new and unfamiliar location, first make sure it is safe. You could also ask some locals about the rules and advice. This is especially important if you’re a newbie and just at the beginning of your surfing career. While you’re warming up, take a look and get to know the beach before you start paddling.
Also, avoid surfing when the storm is approaching and when the weather is getting worse. Although challenging, this could be really dangerous, and not because of the wind or bigger waves, but because of the lightning. When the lightning strikes, it searches for the highest object in the area, and the surfers become the highest objects on the water surface, which makes them an easy target.
6. If You’re Caught In A Rip, Don’t Panic
Rips (strong current that goes straight out to the sea) could look scary and confusing, but the most important thing here is not to panic and think clearly. If you spend enough time surfing, the rips will become something you’ll take advantage of. You have to learn how they work, and if you find yourself in a rip, paddle across it, not against, until you’re at the place where the waves are better breaking.
7. Respect The Lifeguards, Limitations, and The Sea
When you surf at the beach that is being patrolled and watched by lifeguards, don’t break the rules by surfing outside the surfing area, especially not between the red and yellow flags, because you could injure swimmers.
If a lifeguard instructs you to do something, follow the instruction. That saying goes “better be safe than sorry”, and that instruction’s purpose is to keep you and all of the other visitors of the beach as safe as you could be.
And last but not least, respect the sea. It is powerful, strong and you want it as your ally and on your side. Keep the beach clean and take your stuff with you when you leave. The trash should be thrown into the garbage bin, not left to lay on the beach and ruin it.
8. Protect Your Skin And Ears
Although while surfing you don’t feel it as much as you do while spending time at the beach, the sun is much stronger while in the water because of the UV reflection. So, sunscreen is a must if you don’t want to face painful consequences after a while.
Another option is to buy a wetsuit. It is the best option as it will provide buoyance, help you move through the water easier, and keep you warm. Or you could buy a UV-proof long sleeve rash vest as an alternative. As for your ears, a good thing to have is ear plugs. They will prevent water from reaching your inner ear and keep it safe and healthy.
9. Pay Attention To Your Surrounding
You will probably not be the only surfer who is trying to catch some good waves, so keep your eyes open and look around you. If you’re a beginner, it could happen that you by accident “drift” into areas you’re not ready for yet, so try to stay calm and friendly. Don’t be nervous and try to have fun.
10. Before You Surf, Get In Shape
Surfing requires a great amount of strength and stamina, it includes lots of swimming and falling, so you’ll need enough energy to pull it off as it could be really exhausting. So, start by working out, swimming, and practicing before you decide it is time to take your board and hit the beach.
Don’t forget to warm up! If your muscles are cold when you start your surfing day, they could snap and you could end up injured pretty badly and separated from the beach and the board for a longer period of time. Take about 15 minutes of your time before you start to warm up and stretch your muscles and stretch after you’re done.
11. When To Eat
If you want to keep your lunch inside your stomach, don’t surf at least an hour after your meal. If you don’t wait, you could get cramps, or even make you sick. The same goes after the session. Wait at least half an hour after you’re done stretching.
12. Don’t Give Up And Share The Fun
Surfing is best when you have someone beside you. Not only it will be more fun, challenging, and motivating, but you should always have someone willing to help you if you need it.
And if it doesn’t go as well as you’ve hoped for, don’t give up. Remember the reasons you’ve started in the first place and do your best to improve. But be patient and don’t be afraid to fail, because the best way to learn is from your own experience.
Globo Surf Overview
The main purpose of surfing is to have fun. Although rules are mostly boring, when it comes to surfing, they are more a matter of ethics which will help you not only learn one of the most amazing skills in the world but also to have an amazing time while you do it.
So, if you’re a rulebreaker by nature, think about these rules once again. Then take your board, hit the beach, and catch some waves while implying them. You’ll be glad you’ve done that, you’ll see.