by Jay Bowers
It’s Saturday, the line-up is packed out and Long Beach is reeling
left handers. You jump into your suit and paddle out to the pack. You
look over you shoulder and see a wave heading towards you… you
start to paddle and as you paddle you look right and see the wave has
jacked up and started to break. As the wave breaks, you see another
surfer dropping into it (remember, you’re looking right) - you
can’t believe it! With a hint of anger, you stop paddling and
back off the wave.
What you did was the right thing. As a wave breaks, you have the
peak of the wave (where the wave folds over) and next to it you have
the wall of the wave that you ride. Where these two parts meet is what
we call the shoulder; this is the take-off spot!! The surfer closest
to the shoulder has the right of way for each wave—there are
So the next time you’re out for a session, push yourself closer
to the peak—it’s a little harder and a little heavier,
but you’ll find yourself getting longer faster waves, with no
one yelling at you! I know each one of us in the water does not want
to be known as the ‘guy who drops in on everyone’.
The line up is where we wait to catch waves, just a little out side
of where they break. Most of us sit on our boards and face off shore
to watch for incoming waves because different size waves will break
closer to shore and further out. So our point of take off will vary
on any given wave. When a set comes in, your position in the line up
will dictate whether you can paddle for the wave or not. If the surfer
closest to you is closer to the shoulder or peak and he or she has
been waiting longer than you in the line up he or she is most definitely
in turn for that wave! You should be looking at the next wave coming
through the line up to determine if you are in position or not.
We all have to share the water, so the safer we surf and the more
we learn, the better our sessions will be. Kayakers: that goes for
you as well!
Surf Etiquette Tips: