Right of Way

As the breaks get more and more crowded, it’s important to remember the basic rules of surfing to keep up all safe out there.  Right of Way becomes especially important in a crowded line up when a dozen surfers try for the same wave.

The basic rule of thumb is the surfer closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. So, if you are paddling into a wave and there’s someone between you and the curl, you yield to that person. That is not to say you can’t paddle for the wave.  If the person with the right of way chooses not to take the wave, it’s all yours.  However, be cool about this.  Don’t make it look like you are going for the wave no matter what.  Let the person with the right of way have their shot.

Bonus double play during split peaks!  If you are at a break where the waves are breaking in such a way that both directions are possible two surfers can take off in opposite directions. But it’s always good to make sure both surfers involved in the take off know what the situation.  Most often, just a bit of eye content is enough to say, “I’m going left, you’re going right, right?”  And with a nod, you are both of on a glorious ride down the line.

Now if you are riding walled-out conditions and all express lanes are open, be extra vigilant.  It is possible that you and another surfer may take off and head right for each other.  If so, just kick out and let the wave go.  There’s not really a right or wrong and above all else, be safe.

The point for all this is DON’T DROP IN ON ANYONE (no matter how good the wave is).  If someone has the right of way, never drop in on that surfer.  It is incredibly dangerous (and terribly rude).  There will be times when people drop in on you, and time when you drop in on others – accidents happen.  If you do drop in on someone, make a point of acknowledging your mistake.  A small apology goes a long way in keeping the vibe upbeat.

Remember it’s not a competition out there.  We are all brothers and sisters of the ocean, not adversaries.  So do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Karma is swift in the ocean so keep the peace and stay stoked.

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