Cliffhanger Part 2

Thank you to all who read part one, “Common Misconceptions on Surf Culture” and if you haven’t yet click the link here and make sure to read that first. This article was really geared towards people who have little to no knowledge of the surfing world and the unique culture it harbors.

One respondent asked “How do you know who’s turn it is out there?” This is a very good question that has a few factors. First of all, not all lineups are the same and you need to able to read the crowd to know when it is okay to catch a wave. Generally, you will paddle out and get in line with the other surfers waiting for waves. Whoever stands up first and is closest to the curl has priority on the wave but the most important part is to let whoever’s turn it is to be in that position. You could just paddle closer to the curl than whoever’s turn it is and essentially steal their wave but this is frowned upon and called paddling around. There also is more than one place to take off on a wave so you could sit farther out waiting for bigger waves or move closer to shore and catch smaller waves. If you wait for these smaller waves on the inside, then you will most likely catch more waves since most people sit out farther waiting for set waves. For the most part the better, more experienced, and local surfers will get the best waves and a lot more of them. The more crowded the spot, the more you should be wary of when it is your turn to catch a wave.

Another question that came from a respondent, “Why do people get yelled at in the water? I thought surfers were chill.” This is a good question with more than one answer. In one instance somebody could be yelled at because of safety issues. When you are going up to 20+mph on a surfboard, usually 10–15mph on average, if somebody unexpectedly drops in on a wave in front of you, people can get seriously hurt. The same goes for if somebody ditches their board in your way or paddles into your trajectory when you are on the wave. I can understand it being hard for a beginner to understand just how fast you can go on a wave and not see how dangerous it can be when collisions happen. One place in particular where the locals are adamant about crowd control as a safety issue is Pipeline. This world famous break in Oahu, Hawaii is one of the places you would surely get scolded for getting in the way. With how powerful the waves are there in combination with a very shallow, razor sharp reef safety must come first. With a lineup full of surfers who most likely practice MMA I would not recommend dropping in at someone there. Safety is just one reason someone may get yelled at.

Waves are a limited resource and sometimes the ocean can go flat for ten minutes or a week. With the finite amount of fun to be had it can be frustrating when someone gets in your way. Obviously there is more reasons for someone to be yelled at for safety reasons, but in my experience people are far more often yelled at for selfish reasons. The vast majority of good surfers do not yell at people either which I find admirable. Some of the best surfers in the world are the nicest people you’d ever meet which I can understand why since they get to travel the world surfing the best waves.

I really hope that this clears up some misconceptions about surfers and look forward to any additional questions anyone may have! Stay safe out there.