Surfing is a great feeling. The joy of a stoked filled awesome session; unattained by work, family, and societal pressures make surfing appealing and at times addictive. But the thirst for great waves needs to be balanced with respect for your fellow surfer.


This rule provides the foundation for all others. You are surfing to have fun, and the best way to enjoy a killer session is to catch waves and to surf them any way you want, right? Well luckily there are plenty of waves to go around, so take a deep breath and take your turn. It takes patience and wisdom to know that the next wave is the not the “wave of the day!”

Sounds easy but sometimes it is not. It takes a conscious effort not to be a wave hog. Let a friend or stranger have the next wave.

Another solid tip is to show tolerance for those who break the rules . Unless yelling and fighting is your goal, let it go. Focus on having a good time and not on he number of waves you catch. You’ll not only catch more waves but better quality ones as well.


The person closest to the curl (breaking part of the wave) has the “right of way.” If the wave is breaking right the surfer to the outside(farthest left) or closest to the curl in position to catch the wave. The reverse is true for a left breaking wave.

Communication is key when catching a wave. If it is not easy telling which way a surfer is going, or which way the wave is breaking, tell the other surfer “going left” or “going right.” Stating you are “going left” tells the other surfer he is free to proceed right if the wave is breaking both ways.

Three terms to be familiar with are “drop in”, cut off, and snake. You do not want to do or be one of them. A drop in or cut off occurs when one surfer drops into a wave in front of the surfer in position. This may occur at the point of take off or when the positioned surfer is already up and riding the wave. A drop in usually ruins a surfer ride, and can cause bad feelings. a snake occurs when a surfer purposely drops in on your wave, or when the “snake paddles into position at the last moment before the wave breaks. Snakes are usually aggressive surfers with some skill and are to avoided when at all possible.

However, it is important to note that most cut offs are accidental. The average offender is focused on their wave that they are not aware of their surroundings. To avoid cutting someone off keep your eyes and ears peeled for surfers already in position.

RULE #3: CHOOSE THE RIGHT SPOT FOR YOUR SKILL LEVEL.Simply put, surf with people close to your skill level and surf spot that suits your ability. A beginner should not paddle out at a barreling reef spot. Likewise it is best to find a place in the line up that again suits your ability. Paddling right to the peak, which is usually the best surfers, will reduce your wave count and potentially cause friction or conflict. Again the goal is to have fun and bouncing along a razor-sharp reef after a hyper competitive battle is not fun.


You want to keep it light and fun and hassles with locals will certainly spoil your surfing session. Some spots are known for intense localism the first local spot that comes to my mind is Brooks St. in Laguna. Tough crowd to get a place in line up, that is for sure. The best way to approach the line up is to hang out on the edge of the crowd, with your eyes and ears open to he crowds mood.

Our San Clemente Local
Ricky Lovato
San Clemente, Ca

Be mindful, locals come ion all shapes and sizes and ride all manner of watercraft. Just because someone is on a boogie board does not mean they do not deserve the respect. All spots have locals, so feel out of the situation and adjust accordingly.

Look out for Local Shea Hartman
Photo courtesy of Erin Hartman


This one is easy to understand and hard to practice. If you are paddling out and a surfer is up and riding, it is your responsibility to avoid a collision. Instead of paddling up the face of the wave and into the path of an oncoming surfer , you should either remain in place or paddle in the opposite direction to avoid the wave rider.


Paddle around a define peak or take off spot to avoid oncoming surfers. A surfer dropping into a wave has little or no room to maneuver around you. There are many peaks at your average beach break so, minimize your exposure to other surfers by paddling straight out when entering the line up. Avoid taking a diagonal path out, since it exposes you to more surfers riding waves.


Surf leashes enable you to spend more time surfing than swimming. When confronted by a breaking wave you should try your best to hold n to your board and not let it fly off behind you. You endanger surfers within the length of your leash and risk breaking your leash, putting even more people at risk.

A surfboard has many sharp points and should be kept under control. I f it is difficult for you to control your board, you should always choose a less crowded spot until you have mastered the duck dive or other wave-avoiding techniques.


Lastly, relax in the knowledge that there are usually more waves than people. The gift of a good wave to your fellow surfer will pay dividends in establishing and preserving everyone’s stoke. See Rule #1

See you at the beach!!


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