What Does Snaking Mean In Surfing?

In life, we’ve all got to be considerate of others, this is the same when it comes to surfing. If you want to surf in an area with other people then you’ll need to get used to following a few unwritten rules to ensure that everyone gets along and can enjoy their day without any unnecessary injuries. If you’re unsure of any surf etiquette you can always ask in your surf lessons. At Surfing Croyde Bay, the leading Croyde surf school, we ensure that surf etiquette is part of every lesson.

The rules in surfing are often based around consideration and safety, by following these you keep yourself and your fellow surfers safe, and also act considerately.

Snaking is quite possibly one of the biggest issues in surfing and if you become the type of person to start snaking on other surfers then you won’t be very popular in the surfing community. This article talks about snaking, what it means and why it isn’t a good idea.

What is snaking?

Essentially, snaking means paddling around another surfer to give yourself the right of way over a wave. The right of way in surfing is always given to the surfer closest to the peak of the wave, so paddling in front of someone that has the right of way to give yourself the right of way instead, makes you a snake.

Many surfers fail to understand why snaking is frowned upon in the surfing community, as there are no signs in the water, many see it as a free for all. However, surf etiquette has developed over the years to make surfing an enjoyable and safe experience for those that surf in busy areas.

Why you don’t want to snake

Snaking can be a very dishonest thing to do in crowded areas where many surfers are waiting to ride a wave. You should respect that everyone is there for the same reason, to catch a few decent waves and be on their way. By constantly getting in the way and hogging the waves you’ll likely annoy all of the other surfers and will have to deal with the consequences of behaving this way. Furthermore, snakes usually get struck by karma at some point, so treat others the way that you want to be treated yourself.

Avoiding being a snake or a wave hog

There are several ways that you can avoid putting yourself in a position where other surfers will resent you. Not only do you not want to push in front of those that already have the right of way over a wave, but you’ll also want to avoid being a wave hog. A wave hog is exactly what it sounds, someone that hogs all of the waves and doesn’t give other surfers the consideration that they deserve. Sometimes the kind thing to do is to let your fellow surfers take a wave now and then, especially if you’ve just ridden a great one. This is important for those on longboards or SUPs that are more equipped for taking the majority (or all) of the waves.

Respect the fact that not everybody has the same kind of board as you and as such, may not be able to catch as many waves as you. Leaving some waves to go unridden will show your fellow surfers that you are considerate. Don’t be tempted to start snaking or hogging just because one or two other surfers are doing so, be better than them. Following the unwritten surfers’ code will lead to a better overall experience and you may even make some friends.

Reasons people think snaking is ok

Despite the “surfers’ code” there are still many surfers that think snaking others is ok. They generally believe that because they are “locals” they get priority over waves or because they’re more experienced and capable that they have more rights than others. People like this are generally fairly unpopular in the surfing community, those that snake often do it because they’re greedy and live in a very self-centred world. Try not to be like these people.

Why it isn’t ok

Snaking is a very unethical and disrespectful practice, why would you get priority over someone that has been waiting 10 minutes for a wave after you’ve just got back from riding one? Behaving in this way is both rude and impolite and you’ll likely lose a lot of respect from your fellow surfers. In turn, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some inconsiderate behaviour as a result of your actions.

Remember that everyone is there to enjoy themselves and by snaking them, you not only run the risk of causing a collision if you snake just as someone is ready to catch a wave, but you’ll also ruin the day for everyone around you.