Managing a Lineup

Because somebody has to maintain order

| posted on September 27, 2013
It's not yours to manage, but you'll for sure need to be on your best behavior in Malibu's lineup. Photo: Lowe-White

It’s not yours to manage, but you’ll for sure need to be on your best behavior in Malibu’s lineup. Photo: Lowe-White

One of our recent issues addressed the tensions present in the surf world’s ever-expanding lineups. From an argument for localism, to the market costs of living near good waves, to a hallucinatory take-a-number positioning system fantasy, plenty of coping mechanisms are on offer in the October mag. And, although screaming at kooks and drop-ins can certainly be useful at times—Lord knows it would work wonders on me—doing the little things to help manage a lineup may precipitate the need for any aggressive encounters.

Teaching newcomers and enforcing the unwritten (until now, I suppose) rules of the lineup ought to be a part of surf culture everywhere. Here’s a list of crucial teachable moments.

1. The Proper Paddle Out
You know what sucks? When you look behind you, shoreward, and see a guy or two paddling directly out through the break, right to the peak, instead of walking up or down the beach and paddling out around the break. This is of course much worse at a spot with a super-defined takeoff zone. Don’t do this, and, equally important, don’t let others get away with this. Just like in the NYC subway system: if you see something, say something.

2. Johnny Paddle-For-Every-Wave
In a busy lineup, just because one can catch a wave, doesn’t mean one should always paddle for it. If it’s the inside surfer’s turn to catch a wave, those on the shoulder SHOULD NOT PADDLE FOR IT. The rider with inside position ought to be allowed to catch the wave without the hassle. If they blow it, alright, next time go ahead and be a bit more aggressive. But it’s hugely disrespectful to paddle for a wave while looking back inside toward the peak to see if the inside surfer will catch it. The peak doesn’t need to get any more competitive than it already is. When this happens to you, go ahead and be a jerk about it. We aren’t trying to make heats here; if you can surf, you deserve the dignity of paddling into a wave unmolested.

3. Take Turns
If somebody is paddling back out after just catching a wave—it’s not their turn. If you’re stroking out to the peak at the very beginning of your session and there are already people out—it’s not your turn. If you just windmill-paddled for a wave but didn’t catch it—you’ve lost your turn. Beginners have no idea how a rotation works. Many long-time surfers don’t either. The only way they will learn is if you tell them. It may get uncomfortable. That’s just fine. Often a terse “don’t even think about” is all it takes.

4. The Shadow
It’s so nice to finally find an uncrowded peak, especially if you just paddled 50 yards to earn yourself some elbow room. Then along comes a solo paddler, who, for whatever reason, decides to sit five yards away from you. This is often extremely irritating. Nothing at all wrong with telling your new friend to keep it moving. Nobody likes clingy paddlers.

5. Lineup Magnets
At big, open beachbreaks, there’s often hundreds of yards of empty lineup. Sometimes, you just want to be by yourself, or with a friend or two. But then, you turn to the beach and see a couple surfers stroking out to say hi and sit on your peak. What the fuck? There’s plenty of room for them to find their own bar. You know what? Tell ‘em.

6. The Ceaseless Kicking
Kicking isn’t really necessary unless you’re scratching into the wave of your life at Rifles. Especially when it’s crowded, kicking like Michael Phelps trying to out-touch somebody at the wall is infuriatingly annoying to your fellow paddlers. It splashes everybody, and worse, makes you look like a single-minded dolt. How about you just get into position earlier? It’s only fair to send buckets of water at somebody if they’ve just drenched you while kicking their way into a two-foot mushburger.

What pisses you off in the lineup? Have at it in the comments below.

  • Don’t Forget To Move

    These are spot on! I only wish it were like this surfing around the world! Mexican locals are ruthless and couldn’t give a damn about a gringo like me, especially if i’m shredding! No etiquette in international waters! Dog eat dog world!

  • Name

    Kicking is NEVER necessary. It only helps a swimmer because their feet are IN the water. Surfers are just splashing the surface and making themselves look spastic. Watch the good surfers…they bend one leg at the knee while they paddle, then kick once hard to push ther chest down and catch the wave a split second earlier.

    • reason

      You aren’t really necessary either, but we aren’t complaining about your existence. Actually I am. I hate that you exist.

  • Seb

    I’m I the only one who thinks this is too much? If I’m alone or with 1 or 2 friends I’ll welcome a solo paddler for sure, except if he’s a kook haha

    • cuerna

      I´m with you. There are lot of things new surfers don´t know. And how can we possibly know if nobody tells us. And notice there are many ways of telling this and definetely a punch in the face is not the best of them.

  • Chrissi Freiheit

    Surf guides pushing beginners into every wave without taking care if someone else already is on the wave. that´s such a pain in the ass!!!!!

  • Andre

    boogie boarders

    • Karl

      Stay at home Andre. Lineup is crowded enough without jerks like you.

  • John Johnson

    What is really annoying is the people who only goes one way. If there is a perfect right they go left and block you from dropping in. Not cool.

  • Peter Restine

    When a surfer I’ve never seen tells me to go home when I’m surfing my daily spot two blocks from my house…

    • Holly Beck

      ask them what the zipcode is at that spot! ive seen that embarrass quite a few so called “locals” before!

  • Pablo

    When you see a wave coming nearby and there’s another surfer just waiting for it, do not paddle 30 feet to go around him, specially if he’s been waiting there for a long time.

    And if you are catching lots of waves, once in a while just let one go to the guys in the shoulder that no not want to fight for every wave at the peak.

    • henry

      when people do that to me, I make sure they don’t make it..I jump on their head..I hate when people backpaddle….

  • peruvianwonderwoman

    Waiting for my turn, cause there is plenty of “johny paddle every wave” and then guys paddling my wave, dropping in and saying: ” I thought you wouldnt make it”.

  • BK

    Well done.

  • Tyler


  • Travis

    As someone who recently moved to Santa Monica from some of the middle states, always wanted to get in to surfing, but is hesitant to do so because of the fear of being (unknowingly) disrespectful to other, more experienced surfers, it would be great to put together a list of etiquette rules for kooks.

  • Pavlo

    Pet hates, I see these things all the time: the greedy surfer who hogs the waves, never giving a wave to anyone, never giving an inch, always paddling inside and screwing up the vibe of a surf session with their presence. People that paddle out through the break instead of around it and being in the way just as you’re dropping into a beautiful peak. Annoying!

  • david

    don’t try to enforce any of these rules if you’re not a regular at the spot you’re surfing.

  • jakekimpton

    Too many Johnny Paddle-For-Every-Wave’s at my local break

  • Guillaume

    Come to south west of France.. so much stupidity and aggressiveness… They should really learn one thing or two



  • serge

    SoCal problems…

  • redrum

    As a grom, I was very intimidated and respectful of anyone older than me. I don’t care if they were 1 year or 40 years older than me. I would just take scraps and leftovers all session. Now, I hear little tiny groms with multi-color wetsuits and flock of 80’s haircuts call men in their 40+ kooks and telling their friends they need to start regulating the lineup.

    • Yostav

      Haha, sad but true. That what happens when their surfer dads get them out when their 4 years old and make them feel like their better than everyone else.

  • Reefer Sutherland

    Bitches bitching about bitches

  • Mark

    I live in a remote place and the only crowd I worry about is the occasional sea lion. After learning how to surf in an uncrowded place and then spending several years surfing alone (or with one or two friends) for so long, I was pretty sketched out the first time I went to surf in more crowded places like Hawaii. To my surprise, not only did I not get hassled, but I actually had people come up to me and start conversations, be friendly, and make me feel super welcome. I attribute this 100% to my attitude heading into a crowded place. Instead of competing for position being aggressive or even stand-offish and acting like I had to scratch for a wave I took my time sitting outside the peak, smiling, saying hi, making sure I was even going to be able to catch a wave and then waiting for a wide one, paddling back out and then working into the rotation. Since then, I have paddled out at lots of other breaks all over the world, including some notoriously localized ones, and I have NEVER had an issue. I am not saying all this to make myself sound good or pat myself on the back, but because I think the best advice for people surfing crowded places is more about how they go into it than how they behave once they are out. This is all stuff I have heard from others, so I take no credit, but these are the things I have found are helpful to remember:

    1) Make sure you are better than at least half the people surfing a spot you don’t know BEFORE you paddle out. Take the time to watch the waves, learn where and how they break, and watch the people out there and how they are surfing them. If you feel like you are at least as good as some of the better surfers out, then proceed with caution. If the dudes out there are already jockeying for position before dropping straight into barrels…..maybe pass on that spot.

    2) Always paddle WAY outside the peak and work your way in. Take that time to watch the wave breaking from the water, smile, hoot at anyone else getting a good one and ease into a spot where nobody could possibly assume you are cutting in and then just wait until you find yourself in a position to catch a totally uncontested wave. If all goes well, you can probably assume you can work your way into the lineup

    3) SMILE! Be friendly, be happy, be polite and don’t be afraid to break the ice. If the locals are assholes and don’t reciprocate or at least acknowledge you, either take no chances on pissing anyone off or just go find another spot to surf. Aloha goes both ways. If you are nice, people will be nice. If you are nice and they are not, I guess its up to you to decide if the few waves you might snatch will be worth it.

    As a final note, from what I have seen with my own eyes, a lot of people run into problems surfing crowded or localized spots for one of three reasons. They either go into a spot where they already know they are not welcome, they bite off more than they can chew and get in the way, or they paddle out looking angry, acting angry and putting people off. When I went to Hawaii my best sessions were always at less critical breaks where people were out to have fun. If you really need to prove yourself surfing some high performance wave, then yeah, I guess putting up with some localism/attitude comes with the territory, but if you are travelling and just want to have fun, surfing a less popular or even crappier break is going to be WAY more fun and relaxing and probably rewarding than fighting tooth and nail to work into a lineup that is already so regulated that you will never fit in anyway.

    • CMK53

      Right on Bro. 🙂
      I wish everybody had the same attitude as yours. Sadly,… that is not the case. Most people are pretty chill I think but even then, some of those same people just don’t give a fuck about etiquette. They grab a set wave, ride it in, paddle back out, you’re waiting patiently for a good wave and they go right by you and grab the next wave that you were waiting for. At some point, you just gotta say to yourself, “Fuck this, the only way I’m gonna get a wave is to be as aggressive as they are”. It sucks. It takes all the fun out of it. I have absolutely NO desire to compete with people for waves. I just want to enjoy the moment. But how can I if I have to compete with every punk who thinks he’s Kelly Slater? And if you say something, even politely, 9 times out of 10 you’re gonna get shit from the dude. I hate confrontation, but I won’t put up with that alpha dog crap.

      • Richard Davies

        I feel for yas. But if you sit too wide of course people will paddle straight past you.

    • P4292

      That’s the spirit!
      But I can say I hate crowded places too… like the beach I surf almost everyday (that’s why I am one of the firsts to get up of the bed and then, again, one of the last to get out of the water).

      Just search for the less crowded hours

    • Eric

      Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully put on “paper” what every last one of us
      needs to hear and put into practice. I surf a fairly heavy, localized spot in San Diego and even after 4 years of surfing it regurlarly, it doesn’t hurt for me to just go out and be everyone’s cheerleader every once in a while. This doesn’t guarantee me any more waves, necessarily, but it can really change attitudes quickly.

    • Dave

      Nice response! I agree completely. I have also relied on being relaxed and smiley and it works. I ride a map and I’m very conscious that our ability to drop in earlier and potentially get more waves can piss off the line up. Fortunately, being 66yrs keeps my wave count low and they let the old guy get a few. But over my last 45yrs I’ve had very little trouble. Just like you’ve said, smile, say Hi in the local language and engage by complimenting their last ride (not too creepy though !) Its all part of going out and enjoying the environment and the company.

  • jawbox

    These rules need not stay unwritten – in fact, they should be on signs at the major spots.

  • Phil

    How about when no one’s sitting on the peak or going for the set waves? Happened last week at my local. I became a wave hog simply because no one was positioning themselves to take the sets. I would have happily shared with people who were actually surfing.

    • NH

      Too True. but I find many people position too far outside even for the sets… they can paddle all they want, but they will never catch anything. I, further inside catch many and people get angry because they think I am taking their wave… Not sure what to do about it…

  • 1matthammersley

    Folks who blab spots.
    They have been surfing five minutes, then stumble upon or get shown a secret or quiet spot.
    They then think its fine to publish it all over the internet, invite truck loads of their friends, anyone who they think would enjoy the spot and try and make a name for themsleves by advertising the spot to anyone who will listen to them to fuel their own egos! Not have they blown what was once a quiet, chilled locals secret spot away from the crowds and blown it for everyone who has surfed it for years, but then moan when it gets crowded!!!

    • doc t

      totally! So lame. So where’s your secret spot though?

  • James

    brazilians in the lineup

    • Seabass120


    • adesouz

      ir para casa, você kook

      if you know what means…

      • James

        I am at home kook. I have traveled to over 30 countries and surfed a lot of world class waves. At everywhere I have surfed including my local spots Brazilians have been the most aggressive and disrespectful surfers. There is no sense of surf etiquette no matter how talented the surfer and yes Im generalizing because there are a few respectful brazilian surfers… maybe three. There is a reason “you brazos” have the shittiest traveling reputation worldwide in the surfing community.
        1)”you brazos” travel in packs and feel entitled to surf everywhere you go.
        2) “you brazos” paddle battle with everybody no matter where you are surfing and no matter who you are next to.
        3) “you brazos” think you are better than you are. There is no reason for all you to stick your chest out and act like you are the shit. You haven’t done shit but jump around and act like you own the place, any place.
        4) All brazo’s styles SUCK especially adriano de pouza. It looks like he is squatting in stink bug position taking a shit on every wave. Worst style in all of surfing and I hope I’m talking to you ADESOUZ. Pouza claims way too much…. he even claims floaters!!! What a fucking loser!!! Quit flailing your arms too you fuck!

        • bra

          Gabriel Medina for you motherfucker… suck my fat brazo cock son of a bitch
          Fuck you racist bitch

          Some brazilians relate, others not, just like anyone fucker around the world

        • Simon

          Sorry mate you’re a completely arsehole, have you even met adriano de Souza ? Yeah sure Medina is a complete twat, i have the right the say that, i’ve surfed with him a fair few times,
          But guys like de souza and miguel pupo and some of the most respectful and friendly surfers you will ever meet,
          So maybe next time keep that little opening of yours shut,
          And i’m Australian and we shouldn’t have to tolerate your redneck racism

          • AC

            de Souza is a total dickhole in the water. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Khloe or Wilko, those are some friendlier surfers.

  • Dirkieuys

    I hate it when some guys catch a smoker, then paddles straight back around you to sit on the inside again.

  • Dirkieuys

    Don’t know about he beat down but i totally agree that they need to learn the rules. We have a few at our local spot that need a talking to.

  • jimmy

    how about STOP BEING A SHEEP. if you see a lineup with 100 + people in it, do some fucking maths ! Your chances of actually getting a wave arn’t very high, go surf somewhere else. It’s so stupid watching SHEEP surfers follow each other like lemmings off a cliff !

    • reason

      I don’t understand why you would have a problem with this: either you are a sheep as well and it pisses you off that others are joining the crowded lineup that you are in… or you are following your own advice and you are at an uncrowded break where the “sheep” are leaving you alone.

  • jimmy

    PS- and kelly wants to take surfing to the mass population ! (with his wave tank donut thing) who don’t YET surf !! so the lineups will get even MORE crowded !!!

  • Benjamin Rayner

    Why do I get the feeling the author is like every other D-bag in the line-up, he can paddle up to you, he can kick & splash, he drop-in, he can snake waves…it’s just me and you who have to ‘follow the rules”?

    • Joshua Caudill

      I got that impression as well. Surfing has too much of this attitude and garbage.

      • mooker

        you obviously have never been frustrated by ignorant kooks… you’ll see…

  • Pickles

    What happens is you follow the line up rotation, and you’re the only one so you don’t get any waves. No one listens to these, every guy in the lineup just paddles for every wave they can manage to scratch into. Especially true if you’re in CA where there’s 400 guys on the peak on a 2ft mush day! Surf Creek (the most over hyped wave on the west coast) and just sit and watch. There are two actual locals, and a couple dozen that claim to be but they drove out from IE or Huntington, and it’s just one burn after another. I’m all for enforcing this, but it’s almost assuredly going to ruin your session because you’ll end up in some yelling match with a jock on a yellow potato chip thruster you’ve never seen before. There should be a penalty box you have to paddle into if you break the rules or something.

    • ADudeThatSurfs

      Looks like you need to go to creek on a good day. Not a 2ft swell. Nice barrels off the point and middles and gravels. And yeah at creek there is no rotation at all!

      • Pickles

        Definitely had some really fun days at Creek. It’s a wave that is conducive to a line up rotation. It breaks in the same spot, goes the same direction, and has an obvious channel to paddle around the back. But alas, this is ignored and it just gets lame when there’s more than 5 people there.

  • Paul

    hahahah on my spot the max surfer out is about 10…so have all the spot for me..

  • jloul

    when a surfer that doesn’t hav priority comes to paddle right next to me, throw water on my face, then just place himself right in front of me and take my wave… Fuckin prick… Last time i wasn’t on my homespot so not much to say. But hate that.

  • Rich Clark Images

    Yep there are ‘rules’, often unwritten and usually never that straight forward for those who are new to the water. These discussions are often tainted with aggression, localism and other nonsense. None of which should really have any place in Surfing. We are never always ‘local’ and we should treat visitors the same way we’d hope to be treated when we are visitors elsewhere. People should take time to educate, communicate, be polite and pass their knowledge on. Every surfer was a beginner once, every surfer had to learn. People shouldn’t have to ‘learn the hard way’. For beginners it must be very daunting to progress from riding foam in waist deep water to venturing out back to seek better waves. How to get out back ? Where to get out back ? What to do when you get there ? Which waves to take ? All of that with that stoke and excitement that everyone experiences, be they shooting down the line or getting to their feet for the first time. People just need to be patient, chill out and try and remember what it is all about. Lifeguards can certainly help, signage can help but simply being civil and taking the time to offer some advice goes a long, long way. Enjoy.

  • Chris

    This is an idea that I run through my head when I’m surfing… Like those of us who have been surfing for the 20-30 year mark, we can tell by the way people paddle, position themselves, etc…, how experienced they are. This is a tool that I use to navigate the lineup. Most people have a distorted picture of their honest skill level in the water, if they would position themselves accordingly it’d be a lot friendlier. At the end of the day its those of us who have been surfing long enough to recognize the lack of respect in the lineup. Sometimes its not their fault, how can they even know right from wrong, they’ve only been surfing for a minute. I try to educate politely in order to get positive results. The inability to navigate the lineup with all the different ability levels leads to aggravation and negativity.

    Before you paddle out, read the lineup and ask yourself that hard question, can I handle myself in those conditions taking into account safety of others and yourself.

  • SUP ain’t goin nowhere

    I bet you’re just the guy to do it, too, huh? COWARD behind a keyboard, as usual.

    • Terra Mar

      You really aren’t doing anything different tho…. just sayin.

    • antonio montana

      Stay on land and hold your mama’s hand. You have nothing to gain by posting on matters that concern surf etiquette.

  • ScoobyDude

    nothing wrong with clarifying who’s taking the wave, or the next one, when a set rolls in. learned that common sense technique to managing a lineup in hawaii, and have since tried to carry it with me. JUST SPEAK UP. (body) miscommunication and passive aggressive (or not) positioning is real frustrating…just ask “you going for this one?” or say “i’ve got this one” (or the next, bigger one behind it 😉 ). and no matter what, be friendly in the lineup…you’re not entitled to shit in life so keep in mind you’re lucky just to be in the water and are healthy enough to surf.

    • Dawn Pier

      Excellent point – the “entitlement” attitude has to go and be replaced with a grateful attitude. Small inconsistent surf can actually be fun if the crowd carries the right attitude into it.

  • suphater

    what about the DAMN paddle boarders ??? 90% of them, don’t know how to used it or don’t have a clue about surf etiquette. Sooooo SICK of this IDIOTS !!!!

    • Milky Cabrera


  • Joshua Caudill

    I think surfing has way too many jerks as it is, who are too aggro. Surfing is recreational fun first and foremost. So drop the tough guy act and be helpful to someone new instead of treating the, like dirt. Nothing is worse than a jerk in the water.

  • Surfing sQuadz

    Like In Half Way Kuta Beach Bali Where I Always Surf , Russian Always Think That They’re Good Surfer. Keep Drop In, Sleep In The Line Up And Always Cause Problem..

    Not Many People Knows The Rule/Culture About Surfing.

  • hose

    thats just some bullshait

  • Larry

    I lived in Maui for a few years and the lesson that I learned is to give more than you take. Surf with aloha. Just pay your respect to everyone else.

  • Derek

    People who get all pissed when you paddle in for one or two set waves, after watching them pass the previous set waves. Then the next set comes and they sit there again.

  • Andy

    It’s often the locals who are the worst because they think they are entitled to every wave. They usually drop in on other locals who they don’t think are locals because they don’t hang out with the rest of the bums. Maybe you should write an article about how the beach belongs to everyone.

  • puna bud

    bitch only the strong surive

  • mooker

    one thing that pisses me off are kooks that sit on the inside then paddle for the shoulder when a set comes… worth a word or two at volume coz its dangerous… in fact anything done by a kook thats dangerous merits education, you put me in danger im going yell at ya… anything else is just blah from bitches… actions speak louder than words… if you cant position yourself better and takeoff deeper then 99 percent of the time you probably dont deserve the wave.

  • phathedbrother

    Wow….way to take yourselves way to seriously. Sure there’s a line where people are being disrespectful, but worrying about someone paddling up to you when you’re in the water is a bit uptight. Also, does having someone kick for a wave really make that big a difference? You’re in the middle of the ocean sitting in waves that often break right on top of you. Maybe let it go and spread some aloha? Chill guys, we started doing this for fun.

  • nettwench14

    There was only one time when I said to a guy, “which way?” and he said “I don’t know yet!” I was like, how can you not know?! That’s a wave hog.

  • swamisdouche

    i wish i could like this 1000 times

  • Gazza

    I figure after 50 years of surfing that its now time for me to leave the scene. Back in the early days it was you and a mate and no-one else. These days to have 65 in the water mid- week, middle of winter at a relatively unknown break is a sign its getting far too crowded for this old guy. The yelling, the abuse, the non sharing make it less enjoyable by the day. Glad I was around to have it when I did.

  • Surfer chick

    Love this! Just came back from a trip to El Salvador – my 4th day our these old guys from Hawaii showed up and thought they owned the place on their longboards- so disrespectful!

  • Surfer chick

    When I started surfing I went online and looked up everything I could – history- culture and etiquette – and when I paddle out – even at my home break I go to the side and paddle around the surfers already in the water to be respectful. As a longboarder I give some peaky waves to the short boarders and also wait if I blow one- but I also go once someone else doesn’t make it- strike your out! It goes a long way- especially as a girl surfer and I get more respect for it.

  • mary

    There are stupid SUP surfers, just as there are stupid long/short board surfers. Everyone needs an education, and everyone needs correction, in a positive way that leads to respect. I’m a sup surfer, as well as a longboard surfer. I follow the “rules” and expect others to as well, and I gain respect in doing so. The SUP is not the problem. The problem is the person riding it. I try to set a good example for proper etiquette at my home break.

  • The scribe

    Worst article I’ve seen in a long time on this website… you’re calling for agressive behaviour, and rule n°5/6 WHHHHAAATT? Seriously who gives a fuck about wether or not your kicking when you are paddling? Am I getting pissed because you walk like a duck? Stop posting shit like this, and remember that every sport works this way, in contest, the best guy faces the worst one..why does surfing should be different? Your article and the comments supporting it pissed me so much I almost punched myself!

  • Iona-Kathryn Evans

    innapropriate localism

  • glenn ford

    when there are guy sitting on the inside catching the smaller waves and your out the back waiting for the sets and when they come after a wait they all start scratching for the shoulder or try and duck dive straight under your take off line this is by far the worst they never want to take it on the head to get out of your way

  • henry

    brazilians, they are everywhere….

  • Geoff BestCoast

    My spot is very localized but we without a doubt will welcome a guy who comes in and is sociable and joins the fun. I can’t tell you how many times especially in the summer when a kook comes in and drops in everyone and literally the whole lineup goes after him. Just this past summer a couple of us had to take a few guys out of the water because they were simply a danger to all of us in the water, dropping in on us, almost hitting the groms on the inside, just surfing out of control. Its a shame since most of us are always open to new people coming in as long as you show respect and show you are just here for a good session

  • Jeff

    that applies in only some cases… do that early morning or late evening or whenever its not super crowded.

  • KG

    Parents that are surfing with their little groms or teaching them how to surf need to teach them as well, and not have them take every wave or push them into every wave, snaking others or putting them in danger. Dumb parents!

  • Shannon

    No kicking? Currently watching the Quiksilver Pro, imagine my surprise to see the pros, yep, kicking into waves!! What chumps! The author should go let ’em know about their general kookiness. What a spud

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  • Collin Mc

    I think what really matters is how people conduct themselves. For example: there’s an old Jamaican guy always on a SUP at my local spot and I don’t mind him because he’s a great waterman and is respectful of others. It’s the people that think they’re hot shit that piss me off. Could be a grom, old guy, kayaker, dick dragger, or even a great surfer. If you’re consistently rude to everyone, stay the fuck away from those of us that are just trying to enjoy the ocean. There’s no justification for immature behavior. You don’t belong here.

  • Torta

    They need to surf their own peaks…they are dangerous and should take advantage of being able to cover distance by surfing spots regular surfers don’t access. From my experience they are either super kooks or aggro surf Nazi’s who take advantage of the lineup and take without giving.

  • watersled

    Or do what I did, get a SUP, now I paddle to remote breaks and have waves all to myself. I can’t remember what it was like to surf my longboard with the hoards! Much happier now 🙂

  • Jbay Local

    point 1 is so true in Jbay………… also its not how good you surf to determine how many waves you get……Advice to JBAY visitors—” BLEND IN,DONT STAND OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB’ and recognise the LOCALS before you get escorted to the Highway and you holiday is over..

  • Billy McNeer

    Like matt Johnson says” stuff if life guard”

  • roundy

    I surfed a point break the other week for the first time. I was told after, it was a localised spot. I paddled out got to close to the peak and watched for a bit. There was an orderly cue and the locals knew what the deal was i thought they would never let me into a wave but when i realised they had all caught waves in and were paddling back to the peak it was my turn. None of the locals were paddling past me to get another wave and were courteous to let me catch one. Why does this not happen everywhere?

  • jiblet65

    NSB Inlet, overcast and a bit rainy, a few cars on the beach with nobody out. I paddle out, catch a few waves and the next thing I know I have about six or eight “friends” clogging up my area and dropping in on me. I could write a novella of incidents like this with clueless beginners or just plain kooks who should learn in other areas.

  • William

    This list needs to be accompanied with another etiquette list, one geared towards legitimately good surfers. As I’ve learned from experience, these guidelines are just as important as any that apply to beginners. If you are an advanced surfer that actually rips on video, please read. If you think you are a good surfer, but haven’t seen yourself on video, please record yourself and re-evaluate your ability.

    1) You are already catching twice as many waves as everyone else out, so give a few away. Being in the right spot, without hassling, just happens naturally for good surfers. On days that I take every wave that just comes to me, I feel like a total douche as everyone else just watches with a “wtf” look. It’s not your fault that you are always in position (even w/o hassling), but it does aggravate everyone else. Giving away waves makes everyone stoked.

    2) On days that you are really in sync and all the sets keep coming to you, give a few extra waves away. You’ve already caught 3 times more waves than everyone else.

    3) When surfing away from your home spot, give away even more waves. Locals completely hate it when someone new is killing it on lots of waves, even if those waves came right to that person. Once while surfing an out-of-town break, a guy paddled 100 yards up the beach and gave me stink eye. He had been surfing a completely different peak. When I asked what was wrong, his response was, “You’re catching all these damn waves and…. I don’t even know your name!” I laughed and told him to take the next one.

    4) Only verbally correct another surfer if they did something that could have caused injury. If a kook is in your way, big deal. You’ve already caught a zillion waves.

    My surfing experience improved dramatically when I started giving more waves to others.

    • bramwiley

      I’m going to try and remember your advice, William. I had a lucky day Saturday, and could have done with not paddling for every wave.

  • Jeano

    There are some good comments from a lot of people!! All major surf labels and shapers should put stickers or tags on all forms of surf equipment with the basic rules of surfing. It is a fast growing sport and heaps of wanna be pro’s will snake, drop in, hassle etc… cause either they don’t know the rules, no one has told them or they don’t get a mouthfull often enough. As it has been written by a few others, have signs up at surf spots, don’t be a wanker in the water, have a look around the line up and give a wave or two if you can’t scratch into it yourself, compliment others if they get a good wave…… I do agree that a little localism in the water can help organise a line up. Too many people have lost the soul behind surfing! We’re all out there for the same thing!!! Or at least most of us are!!! Weekend warriors and blowins should always give respect to those locals who put in the time at their local break, even if they aren’t going upside down!! Get Wid Da Program!! Surf for yourself, it’s not a catwalk for the new school wanna be coolkids!

  • tfinn

    You must be a kook, every rule in this article is spot on.These rules keep harmony and rhythm in the line up. Its like a pick up basketball game where everyone knows how to play except one guy that guy must be you. learn to surf first before you step into the arena then you will understand.

    • Nope

      “When this happens to you, go ahead and be a jerk about it.”, “Often a terse “don’t even think about” is all it takes.”, etc.. Yes tfinn, the author is clearly attempting to promote harmony and rhythm.

      Also, sweet basketball analogy bro, my favorite part was “that guy must be you”. Clever plot twists like that make me reluctant to initiate a debate with a brain giant like yourself.

      Tfinn, maybe it would be better if you just didn’t talk at all anymore, you make the rest of us in the surfing community look like morons. And in the future, when the next person asks me why I don’t smoke weed, I am going to pull up this article and show them your comment.

  • jiblet65

    ha ha, yeah that’s always rich. I had some tool at Sebastian Inlet just dropping in on me willy nilly and when I paddled for a wave he was on he shot his board out at me. I gave him what for even though he was a Neanderthal and most likely could’ve knocked out my lights. luckily there was a guy who had seen the whole dynamics and paddled over to intervene. the guy was a complete moron who thought he owned the place.

  • jiblet65

    yeah, love that. it’s like the idiot driver who cuts you off and then gives you the finger when you honk at them.

  • Billy McNeer

    Where was this dude ten years ago. We would have gotten along greater. love it!!

  • Richard Davies

    Everyone is entitled to paddle for every wave anywhere at anytime.
    Deal with it

  • Patricia

    Shortboarders cursing at longboarders at a longboard spot because they can’t catch anything (boo hoo bro), and adversely longboarders being greedy catching everything at a shortboard wave.

    • Derek Mckeon

      shortboarders versus longboarders……the battle rages on. lol
      it really is funny when you hear a guy say something like, “man, I should have brought my longboard today.” as you slide past him and his buddy on your way down the line…

  • Ken Compton

    First two things, if you see something say something, and go ahead and be a jerk about it? I stopped reading right there you are encouraging surfers to run their mouths and be little cry babies. Nice, Goon. You got anger management issues.

  • Ken Compton

    Who died and left this goon Justin Housman boss? Justin WHO? This just promotes stupidity and anger, and kooks running their mouths. Pure garbage, mind your own and zip it and surf.

  • Maya

    When people drop in on you and then they stare at you after like it was your fault.

  • fghjkl;

    anyone who needs a sponge, longboard or sup to surf, doesnt have enough talent to surf. keep them out and we’re on the right track. note: most shortbaorders also suck and shouldnt be out there either.

  • Local at a good wave

    The place that I surf is a good wave that is crowded and aggressive.
    There is a pecking order. The locals are entitled to their waves. If a non-local starts telling people how to behave in the lineup, there will be serious repercussions to this action. It’s best to know your place in any lineup, and if you aren’t a part of the regular rotation, then it’s probably wise to get keep your mouth shut, be respectful, and be grateful for whatever waves you do catch.

  • Chalky White

    How do people feel about “chatty/motor mouth” people in the lineup who just can’t stop talking or hooting (to whomever) and just enjoy the surroundings? I may just be a cranky old dude.

  • haole wonderbread


  • tym mothy

    I hate turning in to a barrel just as i see a guy paddling out trying to paddle real fast toward where Im headed instead of the opposite way toward where the wave already broke. making me make the choice of potentially running over his head with my fins while in the barrel or jump off my board so as not to hurt the ignorant paddler. i mean is it so much worse to duck dive a just broke wave that they are willing to risk fin slices in their spine?

  • Kim Kinsey

    Love the word “terse”, didn’t know Holly could write…”dolt”…SWEET STUFF!

  • Gordon Quigg

    My dad said back in the ’30’s he be surfing perfect pumping Malibu, all by himself, on a weekend, hoping that some one would come down so he’d have someone to surf and enjoy it with. Who knew the world would get so overpopulated?

  • Waves

    I’d say this article is an illusion, no one will change the way things are. Each individual, no matter how many years you been surfing, will ether figure out the daily changies of lineups of you don’t, It’s called wave knowledge. Endurance has nothing to do with surfing, it’s flow and patients, even the most agressive will most always miss the best waves because they go after everything. Position your self on the peek and not on the shoulder where the beginners sit and you will get waves.

  • yourmum

    who cares if someone is Kicking or not or too near from you, relax dude, let them do what they want as long as they are respectful (meaning don’t put anyone in danger or dont act as an arrogant selfish prick). I sense a bit of a jerk attitude and ego in your writing style. Surfing is about pleasure, and sharing. Surfing is a popular sport, deal with it. Lamo.

  • New SUP rider

    this was good info.. I am learning to paddleboard and want to take my sup into the ocean but was hesitant bc I dont want to offend anyone… but at the same time im also not your typical surfing type and would knock any of the long hair blonde faggots out.. so

  • kyle

    kicking? bad? what?

  • bob

    Yep, this. They’ll get a long ride, I’ll be sitting way down the shoulder for 20 minutes, and on their way back to where they were 100 yards up, they see my wave I’ve been waiting for and snag it.

  • Maria

    Being a ‘kook’, I just got my first shortboard (having ridden a minimal in the whitewater for too long) and naturally, I wanted to understand how a lineup works. So I found this article, and been frankly scared off paddling out. I don’t want to waste people’s time by paddling for wave after wave and not catching it (if they even let me paddle for them), but at the end of the day- how the hell is anyone supposed to learn if they’re told to sod off at every opportunity?

    So my question to you all is this- how would you have a novice behave in the lineup to preserve the peaceful order of things whilst actually trying to learn something? “Not being in the water” doesn’t qualify as an answer.

  • LeftyJay

    I can agree that these are good rules. But being condescending to newbies is no way to enforce them. You can lead by example, and rely on the fact that beginner surfers will cut each other off and soon learn the rules. If the lineup is really unmanageable, a gentle, “oops!” or “careful!” if they get in your way is all that’s needed. And if this doesn’t work, a friendly chat intended to teach (instead of punish) once back in the lineup is sufficient. But if the surfer is blatantly rude or arrogant, I think saying, “nice wave” and then asking, “mind if I have a go at the next one?” is good enough…easier said than done, but taking the high road can make the water a more peaceful place.

  • Eric Hirsch

    when I surf in a crowded spot no body lets me get any waves so i usually try surfing less crowded spots