Welcome to Part I of our three-part mini-series designed to help you understand Surf Etiquette in all its intricacies.
Surf Etiquette is the code of conduct that governs our surf breaks. It’s purpose is to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all surfers in the water. You may have seen rule boards posted at our beaches. They mention the “drop-in” rule and other rules that we all must follow as surfers.
Whilst these rules are crucial, and will be the subject of Part II of our mini-series, the truth is that good Surf Etiquette begins before you even enter the water. The following is a guide to starting your session in the right way.
Know before you go.
I’ve cherry picked this nugget from the Backcountry Skiing community because I think it is just as relevant for entering avalanche terrain as it is for entering the surf.
So, what is there to know? I’ve broken this down into two main areas:
1. Know your ability.
Surfers can be grouped into 3 main ability levels:
- Beginner: Still mastering the basics of “popping-up” and riding in the “whitewash”. Beginners may be able to surf “green waves” in small conditions, going left and right with some success.
- Intermediate: Consistently popping up, going left and right, initiating and sometimes completing maneuvers on the face of the wave. Intermediate surfers will be able to surf “down the line” with consistency in a variety of conditions, but are still learning how to be comfortable in large and critical surf conditions.
- Advanced: Consistently completing basic and radical maneuvers, linking multiple maneuvers whilst displaying good control in large and critical surf conditions.
Try to assess your own surfing to this criteria. Where do you find yourself? Good awareness of your ability is going to be key when looking for recommendations for the best surfing location. If you’re ever stuck, reach out to your local surf shops! Our friendly and knowledgeable team is always here to help.
2. Know the beaches and the community.
Once you’ve gathered intel on the best surf spot for the day, get to know your access. Where can you park? Are there changing facilities around, or will investing in a robie (changing towel) be the best option?
Take our beloved Maltby road parking lot as a case in point. Dying to use the bathroom after that session? Plan ahead to find your nearest public washrooms so that you don’t find yourself in a pinch once you peel that wetsuit off.
Okay, you’re at the spot. The waves are cooking and you can’t get into your wetsuit fast enough. Before you gallop out there, take at least 5 minutes to survey the surf. Observe different peaks (breaking waves) and assess the size and steepness of each wave. Assess potential hazards like rocks or rip currents (if you don’t know where or what these are, again - ask a local surf shop for some insight!). Do you know your entry and exit points? How will the changing tides affect these access points?
Finally, I’ll leave you with a consideration that applies just as much out of the water as it does within it. When we visit a place, we all want to feel welcome and a part of the action. Bring with you an awareness of the culture and customs of the community that you are entering. This is key to being a respectful traveller, but beyond that, it will open up a doorway to connecting with people in a way that wouldn’t happen if you arrived oblivious. We can’t wait to see you out there when the time is right!