National Surf School and Instructors Associations’
Code of Ethics for Ocean SUP/Surfers
SURFING AND SURFERS – THE RULES OF THE ROAD
NSSIA Surfing Code of Ethics
Instructors certified by the NSSIA subscribe to the following Surfing/SUP Code of Ethics:
There are some basic, common sense “regulations” of surfing to help everyone have a better time while surfing and avoid confrontations.
- Never take off on another surfer. The surfer closest to the peak has the right-of-way.
- Don’t paddle out through the break. Always paddle around the break if possible, or parallel to shore in the opposite direction of an approaching riding surfer.
- Trade off with the waves, so that everyone gets a share of the surf.
The surfing regulations recommended by the NSSIA are as follows:
DON’T TAKE OFF IN FRONT OF SOMEONE ELSE – ‘THE PRIORITY RULE’
The surfer who takes off nearest the peak and catches the wave first has the right of way. Once someone is up and riding, do not attempt to catch the wave if it will place you in their path. This is the number one rule in surfing, and breaking this rule is the biggest cause of altercations among surfers in the water.
WHEN PADDLING OUT, STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF RIDING SURFERS
If you are paddling out, and another surfer is riding, it is your responsibility to get out of the way and not ruin the surfer’s wave. For example, If the surfer is riding toward the left on the wave, it is best to paddle right, parallel to the oncoming wave and out of the rider’s way, instead of trying to paddle over the green, open face of the wave and potentially in the path of the rider.
DEALING WITH “LOCALS”
If you paddle out at a spot you don’t normally surf, half-a-dozen or so guys will look at you like, “What do you want?” Okay, those are the “locals” and every wave is their wave. Sit out on the shoulder, and give them any wave they want. There are also going to be a couple waves that they miss, and those waves are yours. You might not get as many waves as you want if surfing a localized spot that you’re not familiar with, but you will get some waves.
What the locals are afraid of is the surfer who paddles out, paddles into the heart of the pit, then takes off deep and shouts “locals” off the shoulder. Basically, a surfer who paddles out and takes over. Once you show them that you are not going to aggressively pursue “their” waves, you will work your way into the lineup and get your fair share of waves.
DON’T TAKE EVERY WAVE IN CROWDED CONDITIONS: DON’T BE A “WAVE HOG”
Don’t try to catch every single wave that comes through. Someone who does this is what’s is known as a “wave hog.” Wave hogs will create great animosity among the other surfers in the water. Trade off with the others, especially if the waves are inconsistent. Consistent waves allow for everyone getting waves. THIS RULE IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT FOR SUP SURFERS WHO CAN SIT OUTSIDE AND TAKE OFF ON WAVES EARLIER THAN TRADITIONAL SURFERS.
If you are riding a longboard among shortboard surfers, be sure not to take more than your share of the waves, because with a longer board it is possible to catch the waves further out before the shortboard surfer even has a chance to catch it.
KEEP CONTROL OF YOUR EQUIPMENT
Never ever attempt a move, maneuver, turn or aerial that will cause you to collide with another surfer. Always get a good look at surfers paddling out as you are taking off so that you are able to avoid running them over.
DON’T MANUEVER AROUND ANOTHER SURFER ABOUT TO TAKE OFF TO CLAIM THE INSIDE POSITION: DON’T “SNAKE” WAVES
When a first surfer is about to take off a wave, then a second surfer, who is nowhere near the point of take-off, paddles over and around the first surfer to take the inside position and takes off, the second surfer has just snaked the first surfer, and has just stolen the wave from the first surfer. This maneuver causes animosity, and should be avoided.
Beginner Surfer’s Tips
AVOID CROWDED CONDITIONS
Until you can paddle your surfboard quickly and with agility to where you want it to go, it’s a matter of the safety and yourself to stay out of any crowded surfing conditions.
If you are not able to turn while surfing to avoid running over a surfer in your path, it’s also unsafe for you to be surfing in crowded surfing conditions.
As a beginner, when you are still gaining the wave judgment and paddling skills necessary to paddle the board quickly and with agility to get it where you want it to go, surfing in crowded areas can be a real safety hazard for yourself and others. When riding, you also need to have enough skill to turn and miss somebody paddling out in your path, so that you don’t run them over. So until you can paddle well and know how to turn, as a safety precaution it’s good practice to head down the beach and find your own surf spot away from the others.
SURFING LARGE WAVES
If the waves are so big that you wouldn’t feel confident swimming in them, don’t take a surfboard out in the waves. Don’t depend on a leash as a lifesaving device.
LEASHES ARE NOT LIFE-SAVING DEVICES
Leashes are not designed as lifesaving devices. The original intent of the leash was for surfing rocky areas. If you lost your board in these surf spots, your board had a good chance of getting severely damaged in the rocks. An individual trying to retrieve his board, had a good chance of getting injured while retrieving it.
IMPROVING YOUR SURFING/SUP: PRACTICE
Surfing, like any sport, takes a great deal of practice to achieve any level of expertise. If you want to improve then you need to be in the water surfing as regularly and as much as possible. Getting better at surfing is all about water-time. The more time you spend in the water, the better you will get. You can read whatever you want in any “How To Surf’ guide, but it’s not going to do you any good unless you get out in the water. A lot of surfing is about feel, and does not translate well into any language.
Always use NSSIA Accredited Surf Schools or NSSIA Certified Surfing Instructors for your surfing lessons and surf camps.