USE YOUR HEAD – 11 common sense ways to make surfing a better experience
- Know your limits – Based on your skill level, select a surf spot that’s right for you. If you are just learning to surf, or consider yourself a novice, don’t go within a stones throw of another soul. Until you have full control of your board you are extremely dangerous to not only yourself, but all those around you. Assess the conditions before you set foot in the water.
- When paddling out at a point break or any spot that has a defined, repetitive, riding lane, always paddle around that area, to get into the takeoff spot. If you try and paddle out in a straight shot your chances of not only ruining someone’s wave, but being run over will increase dramatically. At a shifty beach break just do your best to find a channel. If someone is riding toward you, paddle towards the white water behind them, don’t try and beat them up the face of the wave. Simple geometry says that your paths will intersect, so do the math.
- Respect the locals and interpret the vibe in water. If you paddle out into a group of surfers that are all calling each other by name and obviously local, your chances of getting a wave are about as slim as winning the lotto. Even public beaches have locals, so don’t think that Palos Verdes is only place you need to mind your P’s and Q’s. Be respectful and only take inside waves or move around until you find a spot you’re comfortable at. Even if you have position for a wave, it is sometimes a good idea to back off and let the local have it. It may be the start of you penetrating the invisible circle.
- If someone in the water gets injured, or just needs some assistance, do whatever you can to help out. You never know when that guy might be you, and if you’re surfing in the morning or in a remote location, another surfer is the only friend you have.
- Have fun. Surfing is, more than anything else, something we do to have a good time. Smile, laugh, hoot. Cheer your friends on, call a stranger into a wave. Make some new buddies and hang loose.
- Keep it clean. Be sure to recycle and if you see some trash on the beach when your walking into, or exiting the water pick it up. Take those extra 10 steps to the closest trash can. It starts with YOU!
- Don’t drop in on, back paddle or fade your fellow surfer. The surfer closest to the breaking part of the wave always has position. If the waves are peaky, popping up in the shape of an A, (A-Frames), you will need to communicate with the other surfer, (if you are both paddling for the same peak), ie, “Going left Bro!” Say it with authority, so there’s no miscommunication. It is always best to split the peak.
- When paddling out, never ditch your board and dive under the wave, also known as a “Chuck and Duck”. Aside from cracking the skull of the person directly behind you, it will put undue pressure on the leash and increase the chance of breaking it. Then, you will not only be treading water, but your board will be heading toward shore like and unguided missile, taking out every surfer in its path. You need to learn to duck dive, or at the very least, turn turtle, (flipping the board along with yourself, upside down, and hang on to the rails with everything you have).
- Don’t paddle out at a spot that already has a thick crowd on it. Find another part of the beach, or just keep driving. The “sheep” mentality of the general surfer population is what I consider to be the biggest bummer about surfing in this day and age. Spread out and be considerate.
- Don’t show up with your 5 bros and all paddle out to the same peak, when there are already a few people out there. With an offshore wind, the stench of kook will waft out into the line up and expose you and your friends for what you are, douche bags. Don’t be those guys, surfing is an individual sport, so don’t show up with more than one other person. If you’re forced to, or choose to travel as a group, try to divide and conquer when you hit the surf.
- Don’t be a wave hog. If they’re coming to you all morning, let a few slide on by. If you’re riding a bigger sized board, don’t keep paddling back to the outside position, let someone else line up for the next good one. You can also keep moving up and down the beach or point so you don’t wear out your welcome. Sharing is caring!