Posted on October 12, 2015
There have been at least two incidents of wave rage within the surfing world during the past few years, all to do with wave etiquette and the apparent ignorance of following these simple rules.
Even if not written down anywhere this surfing etiquette has always existed. It denotes that a wave belongs to the first surfer to catch it, and that others should pull out as soon as they can.
As a general rule this is what happens – but not always. Watch this video as one surfer rugby tackles another for cutting in on his wave – whilst on the wave itself, creating a washing machine mangle of surfers and their boards.
However, as surfing becomes ever more popular and vast numbers sit waiting for that perfect wave, there will be increasing numbers of occasions when this happens (at least initially), dual-occupancy of waves as surfers vie to get the speed required and catch their wave.
Unfortunately, there is also the belief in some areas that waves in your own locality belong to the locals, and that visiting surfers should find another area to surf. See this video where a paddle boarder believes he has priority by catching the wave first, but is upset by a local surfer who also catches the wave which he occupied. In this instance the surfers are disadvantaged because the paddle boarders travel quicker and take the opportunity to get onto the wave first.
This whole topic is very interesting within the world of bodysurfing too, as bodysurfers are also trying to catch the best waves, just as they break. Paddle boarders may be able to get the jump on surfers for the best waves, but similarly surfers will always get the jump on bodysurfers.
Therefore bodysurfing etiquette says that; where there are red and yellow flags, these areas are reserved for for swimmers, bodyboarders and bodysurfers, whilst the black and white flagged areas remain reserved for surfers and paddle boarders. All sports enthusiasts should enjoy an equal opportunity to enjoy themselves catching waves, and that is what the flags should enable them to do.
Indeed, it is not only extremely dangerous for surfers to surf across a red and yellow flagged area, endangering people, but they would soon object to any bodysurfers, swimmers and body boarders taking advantage of their space!
Another option which could be utilised more widely (and already practiced at a number of beaches in the USA) is to limit the use of beaches to specific sports at specific times, either at different times of the day and/or different times of the year.