Surfing Rules

Surfing rules: Surfing rules help us to stay safe and avoid accident in the water. Some rules are just common sense, and some rules are special for unique surfing situations. Surfing rules help protect you and other people in the water.

Surfing Right of Way rules: When surfing with other people we want to avoid accidents. Accidents happen when too many people try to ride the same wave, or they cross over one another or ride into each other. To avoid these types of accident there is a set of rules that determine the surfing traffic rules. Traffic rules on the water are usually called “right of way rules”. The word “Way” means to go, or move forward, so the term “right of way” means who has the right to go, and who has the obligation to stop.
  1. Avoid accidents
  2. One person per wave
  3. The first person on the wave rides the wave
  4. Do not drop in
Definitions: When surfing with other people the first rule is always to avoid accidents. So if someone gets in your way you must stop and do everything possible to not hit them. This sometimes means jumping off your board, or “bailing out”. Remember that not everyone knows the surfing rules, and also that sometimes they will not be able to get out of your way. Especially beginners who cannot paddle strongly, or control their boards very well.
Avoid beginners: This is just plain common sense. It is always a good idea to avoid beginners when surfing, they are unpredictable and inexperienced.  There are some breaks that are known as beginner breaks. so unless you are learning, or teaching your friends it is best to avoid these areas. Similarly beginners should avoid surfing at more advanced surfing breaks until they have more skills.
Surfing Responsibly: When surfing you have a responsibility to yourself and others. You also have a responsibility to the environment. When you decide to surf you are responsible for your own safety. so you should never go out in conditions that you cannot handle. It is your job to get yourself out of the water. if you get into trouble you put other people at risk, that might try to help you. You are also responsible for your gear, so you should always use your equipment is a safe and responsible manner, that does not endanger other people or property. If you let go of your board or your leash breaks, you are responsible for any damage it causes. (Note: surfing lessons help to show you how to be responsible, and also how to handle your gear safely so that it is not a danger to yourself or other people).
Don’t Hog the Waves: Share the waves and never take more than your fare share. Just because you may have the ability to catch every wave, doesn’t mean that you should. We are all surfing to have fun, and everyone deserves to get some waves. Catch a wave, and then give the next one to someone else. If there are five guys surfing at a break then maybe you can catch every fifth wave. There is is usually a rotation, so keep track of who caught a wave and who didn’t.
Signalling: Be sure to signal when you are taking off, and when you want the other guy to go, this communication helps to avoid wasted waves. Even if the other surfer falls off his wave, that is OK, it was his wave anyway. Do your best to maximize wave usage so that there are more waves for everyone. That means do not try to catch waves you have no chance of catching. because another surfer might have been in a better position to catch a wave. If you think they should go , you can say, “You Go!”
Avoid Accidents: When you are taking off on a wave and someone else is paddling for it and don’t see you, then you can say “Hoy” (short for ahoy), if you say it too aggressively maybe you might upset some people, if you use it as a fair warning it is commonly understood, and should be no trouble. You can also say “excuse me”, “behind you”, or “Coming Through”.
Priority: Just because it is your priority on a wave, doesn’t mean that someone might take off or drop in by accident. Beginner surfers do not always know the rules, or have poor board control so cannot get out of your way fast enough. Even if you have the wave, you may still have to stop quickly to avoid running into someone.
Surf Safely: It is never OK to surf in a dangerous manner, like riding too close to people or running into them. You are responsible to ensure that you and your board never make contact with anyone else, and never puts them in danger.
Paddle Around the Break: Do not paddle out through the break, paddle around the break so that you do not block surfers coming in on the wave.
Do not Paddle into someone’s path: if someone is up and riding a wave in, and you are paddling out do not paddle into their path. They are moving fast and with force and you are putting yourself in danger and them in danger. If they have turn aggressively to avoid you then you were probably in the wrong place. Time your paddle out to avoid incoming surfers. Also if you fall off your board in the whitewater/impact zone, then get out of these quickly.
ALWAYS USE A BOARD LEASH: Put your leash on “before you leave the island”. The leash is for your safety, and for public safety. All types of boards (bodyboards, surfboards, SUP boards) will blow away from you faster than you can swim. So use the leash to prevent board loss. The leash also stops the board hitting other people, and stops it from going up onto the rocks. So use it every time. Make a habit of using it from before you enter the water so that you NEVER forget.