Contact | ForumSurvey on the Value of Surfing

For comedy relief:

surfrage.gifSurfing is becoming really, really popular. This means competition for waves is becoming more intense. Hostility ("surf rage") can erupt between locals and non-locals, between beginners and more experienced surfers, and between stand-up surfers, kayakers and body boarders.

Aggression can occur when someone messes up someone else's wave. Sometimes aggression is  unprovoked. It comes from too many people competing for a limited resource. It arises from a simple, automatic prejudice locals have toward "outsiders": You don't belong here.  The crowding and hassling for waves has left some asking the question is surf etiquette dead? In some places, it's gotten so bad, the authorities have stepped in. What's next?  Surfing permits?

Have any thought or experiences on this? | Post them to the forum |

Avoiding trouble and having more fun in the water begins with learning basic surf etiquette.

Most of the time things work pretty well out in the lineup. As long as everyone knows the "tribal law" and respects each other, sessions can be great.

When people get out of line, often there's someone known as the "enforcer" at a break. The enforcer is usually a tough guy with an arsenal of wise cracks that he'll use to embarrass and shame and generally make an offending surfer feel like leaving. The enforcer makes sure everyone knows what position they occupy in the lineup hierarchy. The enforcer will let you know right away if you break a rule.

In some places, surfing is all some people have to hang on to. It is their life force. They feel they need to stand their ground or they will lose it. So they will pick fights and harrass anyone who they think doesn't belong there. Localism is not so much that surfers think a place belongs to them. Rather, it is they who belong to the place. Outsiders--transient wannabes--are not welcome.

As a beginner, it's very important to be sure to choose beginner-friendly places to paddle out. It's very important to know your limits and to not move into "hot" zones until you are ready.

             Australian "Triabal Law" (click to get PDF) ------------>

All surfers, especially beginners, can avoid bad experiences with enforcers by learning basic surf etiquettte. Experienced surfers (and enforcers) can help by lightening up a bit and by cutting learners some slack. After all, we were all there, once upon a time. All surfers can help boost the good vibes by adopting the "aloha spirit." To get started learning about basic surf etiquette, explore the links below. There's a lot more on the Web--this is just a sample.

Surf Rage Etiquette History  Etiquette Links  Etiquette Video
 Story 1
 Story 2
 Story 3

 Story 4
 Story 5
 Story 6
 Story 7
 Story 8
 Story 9
 Story 10
 Story 11

 Surfing Gooroo   
 Spirit of Surfing  
 More on Spirit of Surfing
 Law of the Surf (PDF)

 Eight Rules for Happy Surfing
        Leucadia Surf School
            Rules to Surf By


code.gifsurf etiquetteSurf etiquette publications. Most "beginning to surf" type books dedicate a page or two to surf etiquette. There are only a couple of "hard copy" publications dedicated solely to surf etiquette. One is Wettiquette, a very brief, illustrated booklet on the dos and don'ts. The other is a little book called The Pocket Guide to Surf Etiquette. The book contains 101 rules (some funny, some serious) of survival out in the water. "Loved it!" says Chris Tola, Director - Surfrider Foundation Australia

Australian "Surfrider's Code" Poster (click to get PDF) -------->

Surfing has value. 
In addition to providing information on surf etiquette, another purpose of this site is to support research started by Dr. Neil Lazarow (Australian surfer/scholar) on the socio-economic value of surfing and the concept of surfing capital -  to understand the factors that can drive surfers--either newcomers or old-timers--into or out of the water. Click here to get press release on Lazarow's research and Web site

As we all know, surfing is incredibly rich, both in terms of its market and its non-market values. The market value concerns those aspects of surfing that have, or potentially have, monetary value such as surf wear and equipment, surf camps and schools, surf-tourism, surfing related advertising, surf movies and magazines. Non-market valuations attempt to place values on things that generally can’t be bought or sold such as a beautiful view, clean air or the feeling of anticipation you get when paddling into a new break or taking off on a perfect wave. Non-market values have everything to do with surf stoke: A love of the ocean and of riding waves. Because surfing has value, its "net-worth" to local communities and coastal economies can be leveraged to influence policy surrounding development that may destroy surf breaks and beach/ocean ecosystems. After all, money talks.

Crowding, localism, surf vandalism and hostility in the water dimishes the value of surfing. Whether you're old or young, this buzzkilling dung extinguishes stoke, which is bad for the community of surfers at large who care maintaining the positive aspects of our shared culture.  Hostility is bad for the burgeoning surf camp market that depends on newcomers being able to get waves without the fear of being hassled. It's bad news for the surf shop owners who sell newcomers (and everyone else) surf stuff and whose businesses run on stoke.  It is bad for the multi-billion dollar surf industry (they make all the surf stuff) that has an interest in consumer attitudes towards surfing and surfers. And it's bad for surfers in general, particularly in areas where the local authorities are just looking for reasons to restrict surfing on public beaches.

Participate in research:
| Click here to participate in a survey on the value of surfing |

Articles by Dr. Neil Lazarow:
Good Vibes and Dollar Bills? How Much is a Surf Break Worth? (PDF)
PDF of Lazarow's research
More on the value of surfing: is published by Dr. Mike Mangan.  Mangan is a psychology professor at the University of New Hampshire.  He's been surfing for over 20 years, starting back in the early 1980s on the northern coast of Oregon. Despite the years he wasted trying to learn to surf on a shortboard (because they were so cool) in the unforgiving waters of the Pacific Northwest, he fell in love with surfing and has structured his life around it since then. Mangan has lived and surfed in southern, central and northern California, as well as in Oregon. He presently lives in New England. Yes, there is surf in New England.

Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved. No part of this electronic publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, without the written permission of the author.