The Unwritten Rules Of Surf


It is hard and unfair to classify surfing as just a sport. It is so much more than that. Most sports have some sort of competition or point system. And while there is a popular championship tour of competitive surfing, the vast majority of surfers don’t relate to it. Surfing is not meant to be structured, in fact that is one of the beauties of the sport. It’s liberating.

All one needs to do is have a board and an ocean and the rest is a question of you against yourself always trying to improve. That is, except, for a very different type of competition. Surfing generally includes a competition for waves unless you find one of those elusive spots with perfect waves and no one riding them.

One commonality among competitive sports is a set of rules. Even in 2015 surfing still has no rules. The ocean is as far from civilization as one can get. This is one of the reasons its so cathartic. But it also means there is no governing force making sure everyone is playing by the rules.

What you get from all this is a scenario where there are a number of unwritten rules. The main rule sounds simple – the person closest to the peak of the wave (where it first breaks) has the right to the wave and they can choose to go left or right depending on the wave. Anyone in front of this person is breaking the rules and is likely to get an earful after the wave.

There is one caveat however. The notorious locals. These locals are the de-facto arbiters and the enforcers of the wave and they exist to varying degrees at every single wave that regularly attracts more than one person daily. These locals generally take off on more waves and are able to do so because they sit with the other locals right where the wave breaks.


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