Surfing rules and etiquette

February 27, 2017

Surfing is an interesting sport. One of the only that has a moving, always changing arena. It is also individual, “played” without official rules, among dozens of other surfers who want the same wave as you. Although there are no hard-set rules, there is an unwritten surfer’s code of etiquette, which has evolved over the years. For a beginner, it can be a little difficult trying to learn these rules. Therefore, this is an attempt to explain some of them to keep the lineup safer and more organized. More importantly, I will focus on the wave-priority/drop-in situations.

Wait your turn

If someone has been waiting longer than you, he or she has first option for the next wave.

If a wave is coming and it’s not your turn, try saying

“It’s your turn, dude”


“you catch the first one”.

Smile and say hi to other surfers. Hoot their good rides – after all, we are all in the water trying to have some fun. So long as everyone waits their turn, surfing will always be fun for everyone.

Right of way

Wave priority is all about ensuring peace and tranquility in the surf. Once a surfer is up and riding on the inside, he has right of way. Sometimes this can be a little contentious if the surfer in question didn’t wait his turn. If you take off and then see someone is already riding inside you, pull off.

Don’t drop in

One wave, one surfer. It’s really dangerous to have more than one surfer on a wave. When you paddle for a wave, always look inside before you take off, just in case someone else caught it before you. Even if you think the other surfers is not going to make it, let him have the opportunity to try. You can always catch the next wave. To drop in is the ultimate surfing sin – there is no excuse for doing it, ever, so don’t please.

Share the waves, split the peak

If two surfers are paddling for a wave, try to share it. If possible, call out

“You go left, I’ll go right”.

If you paddle for a wave but realize you can’t catch it, call the next surfer onto it.

Keep out of other surfers way

When paddling out, keep away from the surfing zone. If it looks like you might collide with a surfer riding a wave, don’t paddle for the unbroken shoulder of the wave and get in his way. Paddle behind him and duck-dive the foam. Leave the wave face for the surfer riding.

Keep cool

Never kick your board at someone who dropped in. That is serious, a much worse crime than dropping in. Never punch someone who dropped in. It’s better to just tell the offender what they’ve done wrong. The other surfers in the lineup will usually back you up. If the offender persists in being annoying, just paddle off somewhere else to surf far from him in peace.

Know your limitation

Learners should never surf in a crowded area. Look for somewhere less crowded where you will catch more waves anyway. It’s much better to find somewhere smaller or less crowded, where your ability will be better able to cope.

This is not all, be prepared to learn more about surfing every day. Things like looking out for each other in the water and treat everyone your friend are a must. If you’ve read the above information and didn’t understand it, then go and ask someone else, maybe your surf instructor or a more experienced friend. Keep asking until you know. If you meet a fellow surfer who doesn’t know, please tell them. If we all stick to the rules, then we will all be more happy and safe while surfing.

Do you want to learn it all in pratical lessons? Come with us in our website and book a lesson today!