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The Better Surfer Has The Right of Way

The right of way on a wave belongs to whoever is higher in the lineup's pecking order. This remains true despite the rules kooks hallucinate exist. Their imagined rules come from general guidelines at best and dangerous misconceptions at worst. Let's go through a few of them and point out their problems.

The most ridiculous imagined rule is you got the last wave, so I get the next one. This is socialist surfing mentality. It's not the job of every surfer to be tallying the number of waves every other surfer in the water has ridden. If a beginner finds himself in a spot where a crowd of surfers catch all the waves in a set and return before the next set arrives, the beginner should move to a different break.

The most common and most dangerous imagined rule is the surfer who catches the wave closer to the peak gets the right of way. There is some merit to the principle behind this. The surfer who begins the wave on the peak gets a faster and longer ride than one who catches the wave on its shoulder. However, very often the best position to catch the wave is past the peak with the intent to ride towards the peak and cross it. With the right wave and proper form, crossing the peak will result in getting barreled. Kooks are scared to approach the peak and consistently catch waves too wide on the shoulder; they can't fathom that the wave can be caught from the other side of the peak. So when catching their own wave they assume surfers on the other side of the peak will ride in the direction away from them. The kook finds himself in the situation where he thinks he has the right of way, because no one is betweeen him and the peak, but then is surprised as the more experienced surfer comes flying out of a barrel full speed in his direction.

The last imagined rule for examination is, snaking is not allowed. Snaking is when a surfer paddles behind and around another surfer while that surfer is paddling for a wave.1 Kooks whine about being snaked when what usually happened is through their own lack of awareness they missed the surfer as he paddled into a position better than theirs.

The right of way belongs to the better surfer. Take waves from those who fall, give waves to those who surf with grace.

  1. The term snaking has different a different meaning depending on who you ask. Some use it to mean the general act of snagging another's wave. []

One Response to “The Better Surfer Has The Right of Way”

  1. [...] held my ground water. While I respect the lineup hierarchy, I'm not about to leave a break because some punks tell me to. One of the brazen shitwads paddled up [...]

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