Master Surfing in the Line Up to Get More Rides


When I am teaching new students in Oceanside, I always discuss surfing etiquette. Everyone wants to get a lot of rides and not get hurt by another surfer in a collision. The surfer closest to the apex where the foam comes over the lip first has the right away over all other surfers. If a break is too busy, move to a different break. Etiquette

I like to find a break and I get to know how each surfer is taking waves and how many they want. Some watch a lot and some want every wave. Some have preferences of going right or left. And then there are the boogie boards who also have rights.

Winning is part bravado and part diplomacy.

You want to make friends in the line up but also establish your aggressiveness. On a smaller day, at least 40% of the riders don’t want every wave.

The aggressive and good riders may be waiting for the best waves. If the outside and inside are breaking pretty close together depending on the swells working your beach, some surfers will go for both.

I like to get my mojo working immediately by trying for waves even on the way out. Once in the line up, I won’t take a wave right away from someone who has been sitting there waiting. But once a wave or two passes with people paddling for them, I am going on the next one.

Swells vary in power. The weaker waves will form outside but not break until they are almost inside. On a powerful day, the outside waves will arc and break quicker.  The tricky part about establishing your position is that on a less powerful day you have to paddle out to inform the pack you want the wave but you have to get back inside with it to catch it. Otherwise the surfers who patiently waited inside and started paddling earlier, will take your wave.

You are paddling out to get right in the peak position of the wave to establish you have the right of way. If the waves are powerful, you will then turn into the wave and ride it. If they are not powerful, you will have to paddle until it is more inside and finally wants to break.

If you paddle for a few and catch them, the line up will recognize you and give you a turn without much hastle. Take your turn and always back off on waves where others have the right of way. Only a few aggressive surfers who think they are better than you or more entitled may challenge you for position time after time.  The surfers who are better than you will get position on you and you have to let them go.

The line up is a test of wills and some people don’t like the confrontation.  The aggressive surfer who wants to catch a lot of waves, but also allows everyone else to catch their waves will have an easier time of it.  Don’t drop in on someone else’s ride.  I also call out to people to take it when I have position but have missed catching it and you see they are in better position.

On a big day, it is all about position. You don’t want to drop in on people, but you must race for the peak of the wave, because that is the controlling spot. Sometimes if a wave is breaking right and left, you can take the open position. If someone has taken the peak and surfed right, that might leave the left corner open to someone else.

Be polite, be aggressive.

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Categories : Advanced Surfing

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