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11/06/2022 – 8 min.

Localism III - Respect the locals: Of course! But how?

To reduce the risk of letting locals spoil your surfing day, there are a few things you should know. In this part of the blog series about localism, you will find tools on how you can react to localism – or even better - prevent it. Also we tell you in which cases you can easily ignore cursing locals because you did everything right.

The Surf Etiquette – Why we repeat and repeat and repeat it.

Every sport has its rules. Skiing has the FIS and swimming the bathing rules. In surfing we call rules of conduct the Surf Etiquette. Their knowledge is essential for your surfing career, your safety and the safety of other surfers. Knowing the rules is also basic for showing locals your respect.

Depending on the interpretation of this set of rules they include 4 to 9 rules. They manage right of way, rules for general behaviour, paddling out and a big fat warning to not go into conditions that exceed your level. Because surf etiquette is so damn important there is already a (German) article here..

If you have been surfing for some time, you already learned the rules by heart or if you were in a good camp (WaveSisters!) feel free to scroll down to the 9 tips from the unwritten set of rules for dealing well with localism. Anyway the following paragraphs are a good repetition for everyone.

Surf etiquette: Right of way.
The right of way in the line up is: The person who is the closest to the peak has the right to go for the wave. To all other people waiting in the line up: keep waiting! If you have difficulties to recognise the peak, ask your surf instructor or watch this very well-made surf etiquette Video .

Surf Etiquette: Wait Your Turn!
Ok, well we are not sitting in a wave pool but in the wild ocean. Nevertheless there should be a queue. As soon as its your turn to catch the wave, either you stand it or you wipe out, you are expected to paddle back. Always towards the white water and without being in the way of someone of course. Sit behind the waiting surfers and politely wait your turn!

This rule barely works out. Nevertheless please don’t start paddling for waves immediately after arriving. Give yourself some time to observe the waves and the situation in the line up: How many people were there before you? Who is allowed to give it a go now? Are the surfers keeping the rules or do you have to fight for the wave? The more you observe the quicker you will notice when its your turn. Go for it!

Surf Etiquette: Don't drop in.
Quickly explains itself: If a surfer is correctly positioned and already surfs the wave, you have lost every right for this wave. You are paddling already? Sit back and pull your board back!

Surf Etiquette: Don`t snake.
A surfer who sneaks past a waiting surfer to get closer to the peak is cheating. Even if you catch a wave this way, you lose respect in the line up. Snaking happens often without even recognising. Therefor, observe patiently, before you choose your turn and your waves.

Same here: Don't paddle imidiately to the peak. Observe the situation before choosing a wave.

Surf Etiquette: Never let go of your board.
Don't let go of your board when other people are around. Just don’t. This simple rule learns you another thing: Choose your battle carefully! If you are not able to duck-dive you are more tempted to just let go of the board. At this level you should not deal with big conditions that require certain skills.

Surf Etiquette: Apologize.
Did you make a mistake, did you steal the wave or sat in the way? Then just apologise to the person and move on!

Surf Etiquette: Paddling out.
If you're paddling out, be careful about paddling in someones way. Aim to the white water and paddle quickly backwards.

Surf Etiquette Regel: Communicate!
Talk to each other. Make eye-contact. Not to become closest friends but to stay safe. If someone doesn’t see you, you can also shout "Hey or Oi." to prevent accidents. You can also shout out your direction at an A-Frame to let other surfers know which way you are going. This kind of communication is very useful to keep everything in control.

9 tips from the unwritten set of rules for dealing well with localism

First of all: As long as you follow the surfing etiquette, you are almost safe and you can ignore dirty looks from locals. You get even more safe if you read the following tips as well. If you keep those simple guidelines you can be sure that you are not doing no harm to anybody and enjoy the surf, ignoring any rude comments.

Tip 1: Find out more about the spot and its dangers. Only paddle out when you also have the power to come back. Locals recognise beginners right away and start wondering if they have to safe you if you drown. Surf spoiled.

Tipp 2: Observe the spot from the beach. If there are only cracks and you're new to catching green waves, another spot with fewer experts might be a better choice. Remember you will learn a lot more yielding more waves.

Tipp 3: When paddling out, make sure that you don't arrive in the line up as a group. If you are out with friends, please go into the water behind each other and leave a few minutes between. It seems intrusive and annoying when whole groups paddle into the line-up in a soccer team formation.

Tipp 4: Be friendly and cautious at first. Don't paddle towards the peak with an I-am-gonna-get-all-the-waves-face. Take your time to observe, smile at locals if you feel like it or even say hello in the local language.

Tipp 5: As you observed the situation, you can choose your rides. Don't paddle for EVERY wave, just the most suitable for you. And of course only if you have the right to the wave, remember? Once decided for a wave, go for it and try not to withdraw it!

Tipp 6: If a mistake happens, learn from it. In case other surfers keep treating you like a nube decide for yourself if you want to live with the vibe or let it be. I am confident you can find a spot less hateful.

Tipp 7: You can also show locals that you care for their spot. Don't leave any rubbish and leave the space as you found it.

Tipp 8: Do not be desperate if you are confronted with localism. Take it like a girl and focus on the sea and the ocean! Ignore unjustified hostility and keep insisting on your right, the sea belongs to you too! Don't give up if you love the spot and if there is no reason to be disrespectful.
Unterhalte dich nicht lautstark in deiner Landessprache über den ganzen Spot mit deinen FreundInnen. Wird auch ungern gesehen: kreischende Surfer oder die, die sich pausenlos in einer fremden Sprache anfeuern und jede Welle lauthals abfeiern. So ein Verhalten wird als respektlos gesehen. Hebe dir deine Feierlaune einfach für nach dem Surfen auf 😉

Tipp 9: Pay attention to the mood in the line up: Do not speak loudly to your friends in your local language. People enjoy their ocean-time! Also not very popular: screaming surfers, cheering surfers or loudly celebrating surfers. Just save your party mood for after surfing!

Cool. We are done and you can consider yourself ready to surf safe, politely and with a huge load of self-confidence! I wish you every success in your next surf vacation!

In the last part of the localism series we will interview Birgit, the founder of WaveSisters. She has been sharing waves and fighting for them for years. Nowadays she is almost a local herself in Famara, ready to give us some input regarding on how she experienced localism and how she recommends us to deal with it! Looking forward to it.

Blog Series about Localism

In Part 3 you will get some tips on how to deal with Localism. We will have a look at the well-known surfing rules and give you some unwritten tips to share better waves with locals.

Topic related post

Localism II

Die guten Seiten des Localism

Localism iV

Podcast-Folge zum Thema

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