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4 min read

Author: Doug Anderson  @LA_sup

Independence Day, now past, motivates me to help clarify some issues that I experienced out in the surf lineups over the Holiday weekend. Personally, I noticed some things were very positive and other things that were not so cool, which in my opinion usually happens because of a lack of knowledge. Often, I have talked to guys that just didn’t realize they were doing certain things that didn’t sit well with others in the lineup. Here are some points of SUP Surf Etiquette every surfer needs to know and practice:

1. Always watch the lineup before you enter as this will enable you to gauge if conditions match your skillset

It’s always important to watch the swell to figure out where the best place to paddle out is. This is for general safety for yourself as well as others. If you are not sure how to navigate the swells in front of you, this location/swell might be beyond your skillset.



Always watch the lineup before you enter

2. Paddle around the lineup, if at all possible, and give the right of way to surfers on waves.

Just as in street traffic when driving (or cycling), you enter when safe and yield to those who are already in the “flow of traffic”. There is nothing more frustrating than shredding down the line, only to have the open face taken up by surfers paddling up the clean face. When you are paddling in, it’s more courteous and safer to go around anyone who is already established in the water. Just do the right thing and go through whitewater.
Another point on this topic would be, if you get toppled off while paddling over a wave/set then please, at all costs, hold the rail saver of your leash and do not let your board become a guillotine for surfers riding down the line.

3. Once out near the lineup stay off to the side so you can start to work yourself into the lineup rotation.
Never paddle out past everyone and sit on the outside unless you’re going for the KOOK look. Also, important to remember is that technically, after your ride, you go to the end of the line or somewhere within that pecking order.



Best surf carbon SUP

4. Board Handling; If you can’t be in the lineup without impeding on others then you need to go elsewhere to practice more, and then come on back to the tougher spots.

More gentle breaks can handle more surfers and the surfers there are usually gentler as well. There’s no shame in going back to an easier area to gain more control of your skills while also enjoying the company of others doing the same.

5. Do not drop in on anyone...

The surfer closest to the peak of the wave, or white water, has right of way. Just don’t get in their way- it's not safe at all. If you do accidentally drop in on someone, try to get out of the way ASAP and apologize to that surfer when paddling back out. It’s very important to have excellent awareness out on the waves to make sure you are staying out of others' way while trying to catch your spot.



Do not drop in on anyone with your board

6. Do-not Back Paddle or Jockey anyone.

Back paddling happens when a wave is approaching the lineup and a surfer from the inside, or off to the side, paddles around a surfer on the outside to gain the right of way position. Now, this surfer technically has the right of way, but it is by no means their turn. This practice typically elevates the aggression within the lineup. Again, it’s like street traffic... when you pull that move, you are basically cutting someone off which typically gets them upset, for good reason.

7. Take your turn and enjoy sharing in the waves from that session.

Riding a wave with all your friends is called a PARTY WAVE, not sharing. Sharing is working and riding your wave solo. So, don’t be a wave hog, don’t try to push your way into others obviously already designated area, keep your awareness of others and the swells in high alert, and just enjoy your perfect moments while others enjoy theirs, too.

8. Surf your waves within your limits.

Push the limits when appropriate and /or pull back when needed. Safety is of the utmost importance. Having hurt feelings because you can’t catch the waves you wanted isn’t as bad as being irresponsible and possibly seriously injuring yourself or anyone else around you. Guess which one will truly ruin your day?...



Save paddleboarding

9. Accidents in the water

Don’t be a “Hit and Run Surfer”. It’s just about the worst offense in the water that anyone could do. If you’ve hit someone, you always check to see if they are okay. Pending they are alright, you now have the obligation to take a chill pill and re-asses your awareness of the area, the surf, and all others in the vicinity.


Most points in this article are pretty basic and full of common sense for most people. There’s always room for reminders, though. So, let’s all enjoy our beaches, our sport and each other while being kind and looking out for one another.


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