These are the busiest times of year for Tofino. Collective awareness, respect (for the ocean and for others), and a good understanding of surf etiquette are crucial for the safety and enjoyment of everyone in the water.
This applies to the intrepid newbie just as much as it does to the seasoned surfer. So wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of surf experience, here are a few thoughts to help you navigate the busy waters this summer.
- Know your etiquette: These are the rules of surfing. Just like the rules of any society they are complex and nuanced and there are times when they the should be adhered to and times they can be broken (see “party waves”). If you need a brush up on your etiquette, come into the shop to have a chat with us!
- Know what to expect: Imagine, it’s Labour Day long weekend. The sun is out. The waves are a a playful 1 - 2 ft. You’re at Cox Bay and its packed. At this point, if you choose to enter the water, be ready to dodge surfboards like Neo dodges bullets. If you go into the water with this expectation and preparedness, you are much more likely to have fun when you get that party wave with the 4 other surfers you just met. Wahhooo!
- Give a wave to get a wave: Help create an environment of reciprocity. For example, if a random surfer calls me into a wave I am stoked and much more likely to do the same for them. Similarly, if they are overly competitive and trying to take every wave out there, I am much less likely to be so generous.
- Apologize & forgive: Okay, so you’re out there. Holy smokes some sweet waves are coming through but you haven’t caught one in like 30 minutes. You’re getting antsy in your pantsy and then you see swell on the horizon. At this point you are jonesing so badly for a wave that you throw any thought of etiquette out the window and start paddling blindly for it. In doing so, you drop into the oncoming wave and absolutely roast (see etiquette) this surfer that caught the wave 20 meters deeper than you. They swerve to avoid you, and you completely wipe-out from the sheer surprise of seeing them hurtling down the wave behind you. We have all been (or will be) in that situation, both as the victim, and as the offender. It’s okay to make mistakes. What people appreciate most is when you own-up and apologize. Likewise, for the more experienced surfer getting “burned”, it is important give less experienced surfers the patience and understanding that you would have liked to receive as a novice.
- Get in amongst it!: Remember that you are a part of this ever-growing and ever-stoked surf community. The attitude and energy that you bring to the water has an impact on everyone that you share it with. So get out there this summer and bring the good vibes with you!