Today, across America, many are eager to ride the wave. In fact, according to a study by the Surf Industry Association, the number of surfers in the U.S. alone has grown from 1.8 million in 2004 to a staggering 2.5 million in 2016. Since then, Surf Park Central estimates that the number has further grown to 3.3 million.
Why is surfing attracting more and more people? Well, we reckon it may have something to do with its health benefits. According to the state government of Victoria, Australia, surfing regularly can strengthen one’s core, legs, shoulders, and back. It is also a sport that encourages better cardiovascular health. Meanwhile, it is also a common belief that surfing is a great way to release both stress and tension.
Before you get your own surfboard and start paddling to a wave though, keep in mind that there are important rules that every surfer must keep in mind. These include:
15 Know all the surfing terms
Having extensive knowledge of surfing terms allows you to communicate with fellow surfers more readily. Some of the most popular surfing terms include A-frame, 360, aggro, ankle busters, backdoor, bailing, barney, bomb, bottom turn, break, carve, choppy, charging, clean wave, cutting off and so much more.
If you still need to familiarize yourself with these terms, it’s best to refer to an instructor.
14 Stay within the designated surfing areas
According to Surfing Australia, “If you are surfing on a lifeguard patrolled beach, make sure that you keep within the designated surfing area. Remember, you should never surf between the red and yellow flags. This area is designated for swimmers only.
Take note of where you should be surfing before you go out, and make sure you stick to it when you are out.”
13 Have a surf buddy
Especially when you’re new to the sport, it is definitely important to make sure you always have a surf buddy who can paddle out with you.
As the website Surfing Waves has explained, “Not only will you have more fun if you are sharing your waves, but you'll always have someone to help you out if you need it.”
12 Check the surf conditions before going in the water
Never venture out into the water without checking the surf conditions that day. This is especially critical if you’re just a beginner and you’re not quite confident in handling a surfboard just yet.
Moreover, if you are new to the surfing spot, it is best to get some advice from a local.
11 Never paddle out before studying the lineup
According to TheWaldenWord.com, “Every surfer worth their salt will take a moment to observe the following: wind, tide, swell direction, where the waves are breaking, where other surfers are sitting in the lineup, bathymetry, etc.
Look for channels or rip currents for easier paddle outs.” Make this a habit to keep you safe while you surf.
10 Surf only within your ability
Just like other types of sports, surfers come with various experience levels. According to Surf Simply, surfers can be ranked from level one to level four. In level one, you’re mostly surfing in “forgiving white water” and when you’re able to “comfortably stand on the board and are focusing on catching unbroken waves,” you’ve reached level two.
On the other hand, a level three surfer can "consistently catch head high waves without assistance.” And finally, a level four surfer is someone capable of “performing committed maneuvers, in the critical part of the wave, with speed power and flow.”
9 Never let go of your board
According to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, “If you want to paddle out in any lineup you must learn to control your surfboard at all times. You are not allowed to paddle out if you plan on ditching your surfboard whenever a big set comes in and scares you a little bit. Surfboards are large and heavy. Surfboards have sharp fins. Surfboards can do serious damage to other surfboards, other people’s heads, etc.”
8 Never dive headfirst
According to Surfer Today, “Whether you're surfing over reef or sand, do know that the ocean floor can severely hurt your body.
Try to use your surfboard to protect the impact and protect your head with your arms whenever you fall off the board or wipe out.” Keep note of this particular rule. It may just save your life.
7 Never drop in
According to SBS, dropping in is defined as an instance wherein “the surfer closest to the peak “inside” has the right of way and another surfer further down the wave takes off in front of them dropping in on the wave.”
Hence, dropping in can endanger one or more surfers. SBS further explained “Drop ins have caused a lot of injuries in surfing and are especially dangerous, in bigger conditions. They usually increase the chance of boards hitting, leashes getting tangled and physical contact is made.”
6 No snaking
As explained by Surfer Today, “Snaking is a very common, and disrespectful behavior that can be seen, especially, in crowded lineups. Paddling around one or more surfers to get closer to the peak and gain priority is rude conduct.”
Instead of snaking, observe the line-up and queue to surf properly. This way, you won’t make enemies while you surf.
5 Never drink and surf
According to Surfing Waves, “Surfing under the influence is not a good idea. Save the drinking for the after-surf bragging session at your local where you can tell everyone just how many barrels you got earlier.”
Keep in mind that when you surfing under the influence, you might also put yourself and your fellow surfers in serious danger.
4 Communicate before you make your move
As Surfer Today has explained, “In case two surfers are sitting in the middle of the peak, and the wave opens to both sides in an A-frame wave, they should tell each other whether they're going right or left. When that happens, both surfers are able to enjoy their ride down the line without wasting what the wave had to offer.”
3 Respect one’s right of way
According to SBS, “To help stop confusion in the lineup, drop-ins, and nasty collision it’s important to know who has the right to the wave the basic rule is, the surfer closest to the “peak of the wave has the right of way. Basicity the person closest to the white water peak/lip as it breaks has priority.”
2 Always yield if another surfer is already riding the wave
According to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, “When you are initially paddling out from the beach, don’t paddle straight into the heart of the lineup. If you do, you risk the chance of being in someone’s way when they are paddling for or surfing a wave. Instead, paddle out through a channel to the outside and THEN paddle parallel to the beach towards the lineup.”
1 The furthest out always gets priority
According to Surfing Waves, “Always make sure that you are not taking anyone else's wave. Remember that the surfer who is closest to the breaking wave has priority. If you see someone already on a wave, then the wave is considered to be taken, and you'll have to wait for the next one.”
Sources - Surf Industry Association, Surfing Australia, TheWaldenWord.com, Surf Simply, Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, Surfing Waves & Surfer Today