June 18, 2013
Everyone was once a beginner surfer, and here in Costa Rica, beginner surfers are respected and treated well, as long as they do not endanger others! If you accidentally drop in on someone’s wave, do not worry, it happens. But when you begin to make it a habit, that’s when the other surfers will begin to be annoyed.
The ocean can be dangerous at times so it is very important to keep other safety in mind. Beginner and advanced surfers alike should remember these guidelines when surfing and practice them every time they paddle out.
Guideline #1: Right of Way
Whoever is closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. Acceptations: If a surfer is already riding the wave, they then have the right of way and you should not attempt to drop in or paddle in late.
Why? If the surfer riding the wave decides to make a cutback, they will crash right into you.
Split Peaks: A split peak means the wave is going to break right and left. If there are two surfers on both sides of the peak, they each can catch the wave (one going right, one going left) without the danger on running into each other. Unless you are extremely familiar with the break, we suggest that only the one person takes off from the peak to avoid errors.
If a wave is closed out (meaning it is not breaking left nor right) and two surfers are taking off at the same time, they both have the right of way (meaning that they are riding the whitewater).
Guideline #2: No Droping In
This is probably the most important part of surfing etiquette. Dropping in means that someone with the right of way is either about to take off on a wave or is already riding a wave, and another surfer takes off on the same wave in front of him or her (think of cutting someone off while driving). This will block the wave for this surfer and only is annoying, but results in a lot of wipe outs and crashes. What goes around comes around, and you will appreciate this guideline when your perfect ride it’s ruined by someone stealing it away.
Rule #3: Paddling Rules…
Some of this may seem like common sense, but you would be amazed how often people forget about this rules or ignore them all together. As with the other guidelines, it is important for you to follow these for the safety of yourself and others.
Do not paddle straight into the line up. Paddle out to the side, away from the peak where there are less surfers and less chances for a run-in. At beach breaks, this can be hard since there are multiple peaks, but you will be able to find a channel where there are less surfers and breaking waves.
Make sure you do not paddle out in front of someone surfing (unless you are far away from this surfer). You want to paddle out behind the surfer and duck dive or turtle through the white water. There will be times where you cannot get behind the surfer, and it is up to you to paddle as hard and fast as you can to make it over the wave without getting in the way of the surfer.
Guideline #4: Do not Forget About Your Board!
It is very important that you have contact and control of your board of all times. In less crowded beaches, you can get away with throwing your board behind you and ducking under the whitewater, but we recommend that you never do this. Surfboards are extremely heavy, large and hard. If you drag your board behind you will walking out, not only is this a great way to break the leash and get a big ol’ ding in the board, the board is going to go flying around behind you and you make hit the innocent swimmer nearby. This is difficult to remember for beginners, but please do not forget to pick up your boards and keep control and you will be a much better surfer… and person. 🙂