Etiquette / In the right // In the wrong question.

skurp

Active Member
Feb 11, 2021
162
164
San Diego
Surfed Trails the other day – friend had a really close call with another surfer. Been thinking about it if we were in the wrong or not – thought I’d throw it out.

(For those that don’t know Trails –It’s a good mix in the lineup of noobs, families, locals, visitors – all levels. It’s deep water, slopey wave – great for longboards. What makes it all work is there is like 5 miles of relatively remote beach break with tons of room to spread out and the lineup rarely gets bunched around a peak.

Anyway – was in the lineup. In-between sets, chatting with a woman I know, She surfs with her grown kids – she’s rad. She doesn’t rip or anything, but she can hold her own out there. There was a bit of a current dragging north that day – so we were all taking turns going a bit outside the lineup to paddle back south after drifting too far north.

One of these surfers was paddling outside of the lineup – making his way back south. A big outside set rolls in. Surf Mom and I immediately start paddling outside to beat it. Everyone in the lineup was too far inside to make this wave, except for the one dude outside. He happened to be in the right spot. And he starts to paddle for it. Problem was, his line was right at Surf Mom. I was a little further inside than Surf Mom and was able to angle in toward the peak, behind him and not mess with his line. Surf Mom was in an impossible spot. Anyway – dude takes off late, screaming down the face and comes within inches, I mean inches from her face. She’s fully prone paddling, and defenseless and the nose of this guy’s board just barely misses her. He managed to stick it and rode the wave in.

I paddle out to Surf Mom and she’s pretty rattled and upset. A few min later dude comes paddling back. I’m giving him the stink eye pretty good and he paddles away from us. The end.

Anyway – so, was this guy in the wrong? Does that count as back-paddling? If it were me – I would’ve pulled back. And hoped the guys stuck inside (us, in this case) paddled up, Apologized and offered me their next one. I can’t count how many waves I’ve had to pull back on because someone was paddling back out, or bailed or whatever… happened to be right in the takeoff zone. And, FWIW – especially if it’s a woman. And especially if it s a Mom. Jesus Fucking Christ, this guy. My split-second judgement call is always no wave is worth hurting someone out there. If I miss one, who cares.

Anyway – posting, because I’m honestly not sure. Thanks in advance for weighing in.
 

brothernature

Active Member
Jun 17, 2020
66
114
LA, CA
Agreed about a wave not being worth injuring someone. If you're not 100% confident you can navigate around people, then don't put them in danger, even if they themselves aren't in the right spot.

The idea of hitting another person terrifies me, especially in a scenario like that, coming down the face, and your nose potentially hitting someone in the head :eek:
 

mightyrime

Well-Known Member
Nov 10, 2020
211
301
oceanside ca
I would say neither are "wrong".

To the surfer he may not have seen her when taking off and though the mom was caught in a bad place in theory she was out of "etiquette". Also maybe the surfer saw her position and was 100% sure he would not hit her.
If he was taking off and saw her and did not have the skill set to manuever or did not care if he hit her or was taking a big risk in his head i would say he was out of etiquette for taking the risk.

I think either way since he paddled back towards you two he should have explained himself and justified his wave and made peace. I am all for communication in the line up though many are not it seems.

I had almost this same experience about 2 weeks ago and i was the surfer. I saw the surfer inside right in my line and calculated how to miss him. I had to cutback, stall, let him go over the shoulder and then i raced right below him. I was probably within 2 feet of him. It was close but i felt fully confident in my skills to not hit him.

I paddled over to him to acknowledge what happened, not to apologize but to say hey that was close, but i saw you and we were all good... sadly he was a jerk about it.. and honestly if his ego was not so big he could have paddled hard over that shoulder and made it less close...

In theory i would put him at fault in our situation.

I guess to get back to OP... there are so many variables in these situations. I think all should just do their best to balance safety with a good wave and talk to each other out there.
 

Human

Well-Known Member
Nov 20, 2016
301
448
Oceanside
Sounds similar to a wave I surf - predictable reef with multiple takeoff points as the wave makes it's way in. People like to sit inside of the 'deep' take off spot and catch in betweeners, but are always in the way when the sets come. Woof.

As a general rule of thumb, just be mindful of where people are and might be going as you paddle out. Think about where someone might end up if they catch a wave while you're paddling back out onto peak with people on it and try to stay outside of the range where you'd put yourself or them in danger.

There aren't any police handing out reckless surfing tickets and the age of getting a pounding is over, so always assume that some people will not hesitate to run you over and that you're responsible for your own safety.
 

skurp

Active Member
Feb 11, 2021
162
164
San Diego
Good point. I guess, that's what I'm unsure about - did he back paddle us? It's not like he was sitting outside patiently waiting on a big wave and we were just inconsiderately posted up inside of him. Everyone in the lineup was inside on him - he just lucked into it.
 

SeniorGrom

Well-Known Member
Mar 20, 2012
3,402
2,465
USA New Jersey
Agee with Rick above. Situations are very often different than others. When I see another surfer up and riding I am definitely trying not to interfere. Sometimes that means paddling to get out of the way other times I sit still so they know exactly where I am. There are still skill level variables and I will paddle by letting the rider know it was a good wave and I was doing my best to stay clear. Some say no big deal, some say thanks, other obnoxious strangers give no acknowledgement just a blank death stare. Ha!
 

Bummer Dude

Well-Known Member
Jul 8, 2019
418
515
Oak View
Seems like a grey area - probably not the nicest thing to do, but not strictly wrong either.

But how about this? Seen at C st today. SUP drops in on surfer A. Surfer B sitting in the lineup between Surfer A and SUP, sees SUP trying to drop in and grabs SUPs leash, SUP falls and loses board which subsequently impedes Surfer A who also ends up bailing. Surfer B and SUP exchange words after and eventually SUP paddles in.
 

shadydave

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2014
2,309
2,353
Ayer Ma USA
I guess my question would be was surf mom paddling to get over the shoulder or paddling towards the peak since it seemed obvious the 3rd party was going to get the wave.
 

skurp

Active Member
Feb 11, 2021
162
164
San Diego
Back paddling would have been paddling behind you to gain position to take off in position and putting you out of position. You stated you weren’t in any position to catch the wave and were caught inside, so no he didn’t back paddle you. He may have been reckless, but that’s a different issue.
Great explanation.
 




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