Don't be a kook: Abiding by the unwritten surfing code

surfing code

When it comes to surfing, ignorance is quite the opposite of bliss. And in the water, being clueless about proper surf etiquette will brand you a “kook,” which is the stereotypical surf-infatuated poser who earned the stink eye and scorn of every other surfer in the water.

Many of these informal rules involve proper lineup management and handling surfer interaction to avoid conflict and inconvenience. However, most of them are to guarantee the safest possible experience for the wave rider.

Here are some important guidelines:


Pick a spot based on your ability:

Be honest about your skillset. The ocean is a dangerous playground and your safety comes before your pride. Surfers of different performance levels need to decide which break best suits his/her needs. The swell direction and wave quality will determine the difficulty of each break. The pressure to perform also shadows those who choose to surf in hot zones such as Pipeline and Backdoor. On the other hand, breaks with a generally larger crowd such as Queens will be more relaxed and more forgiving of mistakes


Do not drop in on another surfer:

If someone is in the right of way, do not paddle for the same wave. Besides the fact that usurping a wave disrespects the other surfer, it is also dangerous and can cause head-on collisions.


Paddle out of the way:

Nothing is more annoying than a surfer paddling straight into the peak of a wave. This can disrupt the lineup, especially for the surfer who had the right of way for that particular wave. Instead of paddling into the break, paddle around the zone to get to the lineup and avoid being an inconvenience to everyone. But if you find yourself caught in the middle of a wave that’s about to break, make sure to duck, dive or take the hit. Spare yourself the shame.


Keep your board with you at all times:

Let’s face it: getting hit by a seven-foot board in the face is not fun, especially when it’s not even your own. Whitewash can be intimidating and fiberglass can weigh a lot, but the safety of other surfers matters as much as yours.


Respect your environment and be aware of the culture:

For many local surfers, the ocean is sacred territory. Nothing shows more disrespect to the ‘āina than careless littering. Localism can be fierce on the islands, especially if you are not from here. Common courtesy extends all the way out into the ocean and seasoned surfers are able to separate the sheep from the goat. If you’re an apologetic beginner who pays attention to local customs, you will have an easier transition. But if you chose to play by your own rules, don’t be surprised when you find the word “kook” scratched in big letters on the hood of your car.


Most importantly, have a ton of fun:

Seriously, isn’t that why you got into surfing?


This article was written by Ken Reyes and Interim Sports Editor from University of Hawaii-Manoa / Ka Lee O Hawaii and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.