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Before you step foot in the sea with other surfers, you should ensure that your surf etiquette is up to scratch. Although there is no formal etiquette associated with surfing, years of experience has created some unwritten “rules” for surfers to follow when in the water. This etiquette is largely based around keeping everyone safe and happy, so following the unwritten rules of surfing means that you show consideration for others around you and care about their safety, as well as your own. The sea is a dangerous place and much of the etiquette surrounding surfing reflects this. If you repeatedly fail to follow the unwritten surfing protocol, expect to be on the receiving end of some very angry surfers. By following these simple etiquette rules you’ll be more likely to make friends in the water instead of enemies. If you’re unsure ask your instructor when having your next surf lessons in Croyde.
Just like on the road, there is a right of way for surfers in the sea. The right of way is given to the surfer that is closest to the peak of the wave. This rule is designed to prevent collisions, which can be pretty nasty. Also, if you see someone riding up a wave, never attempt to takeoff late between the surfer and the whitewater. This is known as “backpaddling” and is very much a “no-no” in the world of surfing. The exception to the rule is when there is a split peak. In this situation, if there are two surfers on either side of the peak then they are both considered to have the right of way and are free to ride the wave in opposite directions.
Although this may sound complicated, it is common sense. If you think there’s even the smallest possibility that you’ll collide with another surfer, then you shouldn’t set off on a wave.
As stated above, you should avoid doing anything that could cause you to collide with another surfer. This includes what is known as “dropping in”. Dropping in means cutting in front of another surfer when they are either about to take a wave or are already riding it. This is not only dangerous but it’s also a very rude and selfish act. Dropping in will likely result in you making someone very angry, so don’t do it.
Surfboards are heavy and can cause serious injuries when thrown around by waves. It is your responsibility to maintain control over your board at all times, so don’t let it fly around and become a hazard for other surfers in the water.