A local LA surfer passed this along to Wanderus:

“If anybody who read your website wants to come to Cali to try out surfing, they should definately keep this in mind… cuz i’ve been yelled at plenty of times in the water, cuz i didnt know the rules.”

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The purpose of this list is to help new surfers understand the often unspoken rules that exist in surf lineups throughout Los Angeles. If you plan to start surfing or have only been surfing for a short time, commit them to memory before you go back to the beach.

1. This Ain’t the “Aloha” State

Surfing in Los Angeles is a contact sport. When you paddle out, be prepared to be run over, yelled at, threatened or pushed off of a wave. No one is going to greet you in the lineup with a lei and a kiss. The fact is that there are too many bodies in the water these days. When the waves and weather work together to deliver a beautiful day, it can get downright ugly; the presence of newbies, particularly those who fail to follow surf etiquette, is unappreciated, to say the least. It is best to be prepared for this by learning the rules and learning your place in the surf lineup pecking order.

2. You Aren’t Kelly Slater and This Isn’t Blue Crush

Unless your skills are such that you can surf anything and everything, leave your ego at home. Neither a $700 shortboard nor the cutest Roxy wetsuit—with matching zinc oxide face paint—will miraculously transform you into the surfer you are in your dreams. The space you occupy is at the bottom of the surfing totem pole. Be patient, and take the time and humility to work your way up.

3. Nobody Cares How Much Money You Have or What Car You Drive

Money talks at The Ivy. And Spago. And wherever else the monied class chooses to congregate. Money means nothing in the water. Waves cannot be bought. Respect cannot be paid for. Your surfing and behavior speak for themselves. That $70,000 car that you arrived at the break in could be a $70,000 car with waxed windows and flattened tires by the time you and your superior attitude emerge from the water. Remember, your position on the surfing totem pole remains the same whether you are rich or poor.

4. Get Out of the Fucking Way

This one is self-explanatory. Remember to look left and look right before you paddle for a wave. More often than not, there’s someone already up and riding. All too often, a beginner or oblivious surfer will drop into a wave right in front of someone, thereby ending the first surfer’s ride. Always apologize and, more importantly, never do it again (at least not in that session). Dropping in on an experienced surfer is good way to find out the depth of someone’s hatred for you and your kind. If you are still at the point where you cannot pop-up and surf without trouble, stay in the kiddy pool and leave the better waves to those who can appreciate them.

5. No One Owns the Waves, But Squatter’s Rights Often Prevail

You will find locals at just about any break you surf. Locals lay claim to that beach and to those waves. When you step out of line by ignoring surfing etiquette or disrespecting those who surf those waves day in and day out, the locals will put you in your place. They will take your waves, curse you and your firstborn and make you run home with your tail between your legs. Remember, a good attitude is your best defense. A little civility goes a long way when dealing with the locals. (All bets are off at breaks where the “Locals Only” code is enforced. Those breaks are well-known; enter at your own risk.)

6. Stop Staring

Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore. The stereotype of the young, blond and male surfer died a slow and painless death a long time ago. This is Los Angeles. The diversity you see on the streets is the same diversity you will see in the water. What? Never seen a black surfer before? Look to your left. There is another one over there. Yes, that guy who just dropped in on you is your grand-dad’s age. He also surfs better than you do. And so does that Asian woman tearing up on the longboard. Get over your preconceived notions about what a surfer should look like and remember where you are.

7. Never Underestimate the Women in the Water

While some women, particularly newer surfers, will back off when a sexist wave hog asserts himself, the more experienced women will not. Those women who have been surfing for years know what to do with the likes of you. They will take your wave and then give you the stinkeye when they paddle back out. The smart guy leaves it at that. The not-so-smart guy, the one with the bruised ego, says too much. Before he knows it, he is facing off with that woman’s (a) boyfriend/husband, (b) girlfriend/wife or (c) male friends. Give the women the same respect you give the men.

8. Treat Your Equipment With Respect

Are you one of those surfers who straps the board to the top of the car wax-side up, and then drives away with the still-attached leash swaying in the breeze? Do you see nothing wrong with jamming a nine foot longboard into the back seat of your sporty little convertible? If you are serious about surfing, prove it. Buy a board bag. Buy a vehicle that accommodates both you and your board. Stop looking like dorks! (You will thank me for this advice when you follow it and realize people no longer snicker at you when you pull up at a surf spot.)

9. It’s Not Your Trash, But Pick It Up Anyway

Our beaches are filthy. Be part of the solution. When you see trash on the beach, take a few minutes to pick it up and throw it away. Keep your eyes open for plastic refuse. Plastic does not biodegrade. It simply breaks down into smaller pieces, toxic pieces that are eventually ingested by sea life. Plastic will be the death of our oceans unless we learn to recycle. Your homework for today, class, is to read up on the “Pacific Garbage Patch”.

10. Give Respect to Get Respect

Enough said?

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