After visiting southern California a few weeks ago. I was happy to surf at El Porto, but damn if that place isn't crowded. One thing I noticed, generally most people were following the rules. I say "generally", cause I personally almost took off a guy's head when I got on a wave. Thankfully, no one was hurt and he did appologise. Had he folowed the rules it wouldn't have even happened. So the hard and fast rules are as follows.
Surfing Etiquette Rules
- The surfer closest to the peak has priority. Riders in front of that surfer should exit unless told not to.
- Any surfer who is riding a wave has priority over someone paddling out. Ppeople paddling out should avoid conflict with upright surfers.
- Don't drop in to a surfer's wave. "Snaking" and "shoulder hopping" will usually get get you yelled at, possibly worse.
- Two people surfing the same wave is acceptable, only if the surfer with priority doesn't object.
- Always be in control of your board. Hang on to your board, allowing it to float freely is a hazard to others.
Who Has The Right of Way?
The most important rule to remember when surfing, the person closest to the 'peak' of the wave has the right of way. When the wave reaches its peak, the surfer closest to the middle (peak) where the whitewater is rolling over has (priority) the right of way. It's not the surfer who's off to the side of the peak.
Choose a Wave for your skill level
Unfortunately, surfing doesn't have an official Wave Ride Rating system, but some waves are more technical and others are not. Don't surf a wave that's way above your ability, it's fine to push your abilities, but be aware of the dangers you pose to others and yourself.
Remember kids, follow the rules and you won't get in trouble. But sometimes, don't be scared to break them.