Learning sup surf over forty this man catches a five foot wave.

Learning to Paddleboard Surf

Paddleboard Surfing 101

If you are getting into the sport of surfing, it’s just like most things in public life; it has its certain set of rules and manners. Chances are you do not eat with your hands at restaurants, you don’t put your feet on the couches with visiting someone’s house, and when you drive, you don’t cut people off.

Being in the ocean with large boards has the same set of rules. Way before you learn your cutbacks and bottom turns, you will want to know the basic etiquette. This applies even more so to SUPSurfers because we have bigger boards and can catch more waves due to the advantage our paddles give us.

The surfing community has a name for those that do not follow the rules of surfing etiquette; the term is Kooks. Your first goal should try not to be a Kook. Not being the best surfer in the world does not mean you are a kook. Thinking or acting like you are the best surfer on the planet when chances you are not will certainly qualify you as “kook of the day.”

Suppose you want to know everything, we suggest reading the Beginners Guide to SUP Surfing Like the Pros. Until then, hopefully, this article helps.

Most kooks wouldn’t even take the time to educate themselves because they might think they already know it all.

If, by chance, you find yourself feeling like a Kook, it either happened for two reasons. The first is you think you are Kelly Slater, and with that issue, we really can’t help you, and the second is that your excitement for enjoying SUPSurfing got you in a little too deep, and you made some rookie mistakes. This second reason is exactly what a week-long coaching session can help you with.

Here are the basic things you need to know to avoid being kook of the day:

  • Be Present

One of the beauties of being in nature and the ocean is that you get a chance to unwind and detach from your phone. While this is undoubtedly a nice thing to enjoy, you also have to be hyper-alert and at the moment when in a surfing lineup. It is a beautiful thing when you see a crowded lineup, and everyone seems to surf synchronized. The lineup is part of the ocean surfers coming and going all fall, doing their part to keep the flow and maximize rides for everyone. 

All of these surfers are in communication. They might say “mine!” to indicate they are going for a particular wave allowing other surfers to wait for the next.  

In general, the unspoken rule is that the rider closest to the peak has first dibs on the wave. 

  • Dropping in 

Dropping in on someone is the equivalent of cutting someone off in traffic. It is a significant no-no. It is when you drop down into a wave while a surfer is already up and riding it.

  • Snaking Around

This is the equivalent of jumping in line. It’s someone with little patience and respect for other people’s time spent in the water.

A surfer paddling around the lineup trying to find the next wave regardless of who they take it from is snaking.

  • Don’t Go After Every Wave.

This can be tough for SUPSurfers because we are capable of catching more waves than surfers. If you want to maximize your potential and catch 1,000 waves a day, it’s best to find a break just for yourself. If you are in a lineup, you will have to be conscious not to hog waves. It is ok to catch more waves than the regular surfers, but don’t make it a lot more locks.

  • Acknowledge and Respect the Locals

The worst thing you can do is show up to a place filled with locals and act like you own it or are the best surfer the area has ever seen.

Give a slight nod of recognition, implying that you are grateful for letting you come and play in their home. Be humble, follow the etiquette rules, and you will be fine.

  • Apologize

Be conscious of any errors that occur. Instead of getting mad at yourself for not riding a wave to your perfection, try and focus that energy by apologizing to any surfers that were in your path or radius of error.

We all have had to do this. Human error is natural so get used to learning how to say “your sorry.”

  • Paddling Out  to the Line-Up

After you learn to read rip tides and the waves breaking, you will know how to get out into the lineup without being an obstacle for people riding the waves. With SUPSurfboards, we can be a big object to avoid, so learning the proper techniques and reading the area are all things to keep you from being “the Kook of the day.”

  • Ride Waves that Match Your Skill Level

If you are out there just getting pounded and your board is all over the place, that is fine if you are out there alone. If you are in a lineup, then it’s a major kook-ish thing to do.

  • The Good-Surfmaritan Law

Always help any other surfer in need. Sacrificing a wave or an entire day of surf to help another is your duty as a surfer.

  • Care for the Beach and Ocean

The only thing the ocean asks for in return for its production of amazing waves that have changed countless lives and formed the lifestyle we all love and enjoy today is to treat it with respect. Surfers should be first conservationists and second athletes. It is our right not just to respect today’s surfers in the water but to care for the ocean, ultimately respecting tomorrow’s surfers.

Interesting in learning SUPSurf from the pros? 

Visit Tropical SUPSurf Academy, one of the top SUP Surf Schools, anywhere located in Nosara Costa Rica.

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