If you’ve taken some surfing lessons, then chances are you’ve been briefed on the rules and etiquette of surfing. Surfing is one of many fun things to do in Hawaii but it is not without its unique set of rules and challenges. Below, we’ll dive into the most important surfing rules so that you can build confidence and enjoy the thrill of riding waves.
You need to have a basic understanding of the following surf rules before attempting to surf any wave. Take several surf lessons and make a commitment to learning everything you can about etiquette. These rules will help keep you safe as well as the other surfers surfers around you.
Prepare ahead of time
Before heading out into the water, there are a few things we highly recommend you do before you paddle out. These items will help to make your session more enjoyable.
To prepare for your surf session, you should first do some warm-up stretches. Include a wide variety of stretches to loosen up all of the muscles of your body and get them warmed up for the work out you’re about to endure. Not only will this make your time out on the water much more pleasurable, but will also help to avoid possible injuries.
Next, you need to make sure you use sun protection. These days, sunscreen is widely considered unhealthy and dangerous for wildlife and ocean reefs and ecosystems, so we always recommend you use an all mineral based sunscreen with no preservatives. We also recommend using a rashguard or wetsuit for some sun protection. You should also drink plenty of water before your day begins so you’re fully hydrated. This will keep any exposed skin healthy and less prone to sunburn.
As a part of your surfing preparation, you should also take a look at the weather forecasts. The weather can change instantly, especially near the ocean. Being aware of the day’s expected weather can help you determine if it’s safe to enter the water. This is incredibly important, especially as a new surfer. It’s also recommended that you check with lifeguards for surf conditions.
Learn the right of way
Once you’ve put your sunscreen on, stretched, and determined that it’s safe to enter the water, grab your stick and hit the line up. Be aware when paddling out to the line up and always stay on the shoulder out of the way of other surfers riding waves. Never paddle in the direct line of an oncoming surfer and always stay aware of your surroundings.
Know that surfing has strict rules when it comes to the right of way in the water. The number one rule is to know when to give the right away to another surfer when catching waves. The surfer that is on the inside of you closest to the curl of the wave has the right of way. This means, if you’re paddling for a wave, the surfer nearest the break has right of way and you must yield to them.
Furthermore, never drop in on a wave when another surfer is up and riding and never try and “snake” a wave from another surfer. This is when you sneak around a surfer paddling for a wave to position yourself closer to the curl and call off the surfer in front of you. This is sure way to make surfers angry and dislike you.
Know when to hold or bail
Paddling out to the line up can be difficult, especially when there is no clear channel to paddle out. If you get caught inside by a large wave you may have to bail your board and dive under the wave. Your leash will keep the board from being washed back to shore but, before you throw your board you need to be aware of your surroundings and make sure that there is no one behind you or on the side of you that could be hit by your loose board.
As you become more experienced you will be able to ride a shorter board that will allow you to duck dive your board under the on coming waves. While you are still learning and riding larger boards with more foam you will have to use the roll over technique. To use the roll over technique you need to flip the board over so the bottom is facing up while holding on very tight to the the rails of the board from underneath the water. Once the wave passes over the bottom of the board you can roll back over and continue paddling out.
Respect your environment
The ocean is a beast and she can’t be tamed. That is why you must always have respect for the ocean and her power. Understanding that your time in the water is a privilege you will learn to appreciate the ocean and understand what it means to be a surfer. After all only a surfer knows the feeling! Additionally, it is important to note that you are surfing in a living ecosystem all around you. There are living plants and animals that depend on you to respect their environment. Respect their home and they will respect you!
Most importantly, always have fun! Surfing is an intense sport but it’s meant to promote enjoyment and camaraderie. Get to know other surfers, practice techniques and etiquette, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Your level of experience will grow with your continual commitment to the sport.
Want to hit the waves this summer but looking for a little practice first? No problem! Everyone can benefit from a quick refresher course and we are happy to help you with that.
At Surf N Sea, we have been providing surf lessons and exceptional surfing gear to the north shore for decades. We are experts when it comes to all things surfing and we can help you practice the skills you need to feel confident on the water.
Interested in booking a session? Give us a call today!