One of the most important things to do as a surf beginner is to learn surf etiquette. As in every sport, there are some rules, that ensure a safe surrounding and show respect towards fellow surfers. If you follow these rules, you will do a great job protecting yourself and others from possible dangers. That way you can enjoy your session to the fullest and focus on your improvement. Don’t get intimidated by those rules but rather take them as a little help to feel more comfortable in the water. It takes time to internalise them, so take it step by step.
- Do the research
Inform yourself about the wave conditions. Start by checking the different surf spots in the area and analyse wind and waves. Choose the spots that seem suitable and go there to check them out. Surf forecasts are helpful to get a general impression of the swell and winds, but it is always important to see the conditions on location. If you are worried you might not be able to cope with the conditions, rather choose a smaller wave for that day or practice in the whitewash until you are sure you are ready for the bigger spot.
2. Inform yourself about the surf spot
Get as much information about the surf spot as you can. If you can’t find any descriptions about the spot on surf forecast pages or surf maps, ask surfers who exit the water. Are there any rocks? Is there a current? It is always a good basic rule to see if there are a couple of other surfers in the water. Do not enter a spot on your own, if you have never surfed there before and are not an advanced surfer.
3. Learn to read the Ocean
Stand at the shore and spend at least 5-10 minutes observing the water. Where does the wave break? Does it always break on the same spot (point break) or does it always break on different points every? Can you recognise a current with your eyes? Is there a channel to paddle out to the line-up? This will help you to find the right position in the water. Before entering the water, you can already define where to paddle out and where to sit in the line up to catch waves.
4. Always hold onto your board
If you paddle out towards the lineup or you are being washed by a bigger wave: do not let go of your board. Especially in crowded spots, the danger of hitting people is very high if you let go of your board. It will be difficult in the beginning, but it is very important to learn how to keep hold of your board. There are mainly two practices. The turtle roll is often used for big boards with loads of volume. It is also easier for beginners to learn. (Click here to learn the turtle roll) If you already ride a board with less volume make sure to master your duck diving. (Click here to learn how to duck dive) A technique that asks for a bit of practice to dive under the wave at the right moment.
5. Respect priority and other surfers
There is a rule, that whoever is paddling closest to the peak for a wave has the right of way. If you are paddling for a wave and realise someone else is in the sweeter spot, give priority. If someone is on the wave already, do not drop in. Always check left and right and if someone is riding the wave already, wait for the next one.
6. Protect the Ocean
Don’t leave any trash wherever you go. Try to use sun protection that is sustainable and not harming the reefs. If you got time for a little beach clean up, do it. We must protect what we love so much.
7. Smile and have fun
Last but not least: enjoy your session! A smile and a kind hello is always the best way to start and make new friends to share the stoke with.
See you in the water!