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General Advice for Aspiring Surfers

Surfing is an individual sport practiced in an open place. The sea brings together surfers of different styles, levels, and experience, carrying various equipment. In order for that meeting to not turn uncomfortable, there are some practices and principles that should be respected. After all, surfers of all backgrounds chase the same waves.

Carefully pick places for surfing

Avoid surfing where it’s too dangerous for your skills, or to get into places with too many experienced surfers, in case you are a beginner. Try to stay around, catching the waves that are left. When you gain more experience, you will be surfing with the most skilled. Also avoid surfing around regular folks or kids to lower chances of some unwanted accidents. Always take a good look at the spot and enter the water with a plan of where to position yourself.

Put safety first

If somebody is overtaking you or if a beginner gets in your way while trying to paddle out, abandon the wave if you deem the risk of a crash real. You may be right or wrong in your judgment – mistakes do happen – but nothing justifies putting people’s safety at risk. If you notice a mistake made by a beginner, be patient and help them.

Don’t chase another’s wave

This thing known as ‘snaking’ is a serious fault in the surfing world. Never catch a wave that is already being ridden by someone else. Besides being considered disrespectful, this will also be putting your safety and that of the other surfer at risk, and can cause a very serious accident. If you didn’t see someone already riding and you accidentally got on another surfer’s wave, get out as soon as possible – you will probably hear the screams of the surfers close behind you trying to signal about what’s happening. This way you’ll release the rest of the wave to whoever was already on it.

Don’t obstruct other surfers

If you are paddling against the waves to get out and need to pass through a wave that is being ridden, always paddle toward the wave’s foam – the breaking part. Never paddle into the wall of the wave, as that is where the surfer is going. Leave the wall free to be surfed and go toward the foam.

Respect the priority rules

There is a set of priority rules that are – or at least should be – known to all surfers. Although they are not necessarily written in any regulation, as happens in other sports, it is a matter of common sense to follow them. Priority in surfing obeys the set of rules described below:

  1. Priority in reef breaks and point breaks – in these two situations, the waves always break in the same place. This makes it easier to know where to position yourself. For this reason, a line of surfers is usually formed near the wave spot. The rule here is to respect the order of the line up: the surfer closest to the peak catches the wave and moves to the end of the line. If it is your turn and you don’t make it, you will have lost your turn, getting to the end of the line again. Things happen.
  2. Priority at beach breaks – these waves break in different places, making positioning a more difficult task. On the beaches where you cannot predict where the wave will break, priority belongs to the surfer who is best positioned in relation to the wave. The positioning of beach breaks gives priority to the surfer on the outside because they will catch the wave from the start and ride it for longer. If the surfers are all positioned next to each other, with no one being further towards the bottom than the other, priority belongs to the surfer who is closest to the peak of the wave when the set comes in. The reason is the same: the surfer who catches the wave at the highest point will have the opportunity to ride it for the longest time. Note that in beach breaks, to maintain good positioning, you must always be aware of where each set comes in and you will need to reposition yourself several times during the session.

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Respect the locals

If you don’t live on the beach and use it for walking or surfing once in a while, remember that there are people who live or surf there every day. Respect these people in and out of the water. There are beaches where localism is very strong, and if you are new there, respect the community and don’t act like you own the place. If you respect the surfers and locals, you will soon earn their respect as well.

Preserve the beach

This is also a way to respect the locals: by taking care of the place where they live. Always pick up your trash and, if possible, any other trash you may find along the way. Trash on the ground or in the water can hurt someone, puts people’s health at risk, harms marine life, leads to cases of pollution, and can cause nuisances in the city (especially small towns with little infrastructure). If you like the beach, try to preserve it so you can go there longer.


Surfing is all about technique and wave feeling, so it’s one of the few physical activities that you’re unlikely to master on your own. You can try endlessly, but without the proper skills you can only get disappointed, and even injured. Mastering the surf – preparing your body and spirit, accumulating skills – isn’t easy. You have to practice the technical skills and adhere to the good practices listed above for the greater cohesion in the community. And one more thing: be patient with those who have less experience. Never forget that you were also a beginner once.

If you prefer land-based activities in urban areas, biking is the best option for you. In New York, for example, the bike rental industry is very well developed. Biking in Central Park would suit a fan of this kind of leisure perfectly.

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