We all want the same thing when we arrive on Rote…to get some great waves and come in smiling. As line ups around the world get busier, the need to play by the rules becomes more paramount. Surfing is a microcosm of life on land, and like society in general, there are rules to govern behavior which have been developed to minimize conflict. These are a few guidelines to help keep Rote a happy, relaxed place to surf.
1. Respect all the basic rules of surfing to the letter
The only way for everyone to feel satisfied at the end of the day is for there to be a sense of order and fairness in the water. The universal rules of surfing apply whether you are a local or a foreigner on a two week holiday, and we have all seen the consequences when this globally accepted set of protocols is ignored. Everybody knows them. When they aren’t followed, the result is a bad feeling in the water, aggression, and even fights.
2. Wait your turn and don’t snake people.
T-Land breaks like a point, with several sections, and each has its own lineup. The most depressing thing in the world is to be waiting patiently for your turn and watch some clown paddling past you after every wave, or someone to take off on the peak, kick out when he doesn’t make a section and then assume he is at the head of the lineup at the Mountain for example. Equally don’t jump out of a boat and paddle straight to the head of the line-up. Think about it like standing in a queue for a bus; wait your turn, go in order, and everyone will get their fair share of waves.
3. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you can!
You may be a young hottie or an old guy on a long board, enabling you to take off deeper than some of the other people in the water. If you’ve had a wave and paddle inside someone who maybe isn’t as skilled as you, you don’t actually have the right to go on the next one. We all know spots in the world where the locals ignore this, and they are often very depressing places to surf. Walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes and ask yourself if you would like to be treated the way you are behaving.
4. Don’t collapse the wave by paddling when someone else is already riding
If someone has already taken off and you think it’s 50/50 whether they will make a section or not, and you start paddling in, it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy…you will probably collapse the wave and essentially burn the first guy. Exercise restraint. Allow the first guy riding a fair chance. The consequences of a wipeout can be heavy.
5. Don’t think you own the place.
When you arrive in the line-up and there is already a group surfing, the worst thing you can do is to charge out in an all-out assault, paddling frantically for every wave that comes through. It’s just not cool. If you’re in a group, try and filter out a few surfers at a time to reduce the impact of the numbers. Be chilled. Contain your enthusiasm. Consider the others who have already settled into a rhythm.
6. Communication is key
When it’s your turn and you’re waiting for the set that’s feathering out the back, let other people know your intentions. Most people will assume you’re going to go, but you may decide not to take it, especially if it’s the first wave of a set. If you aren’t interested, hold both of your hands up and out of the water to send a clear message to everyone that you’re not going. Likewise, if you start paddling for a wave and then realize you aren’t going to get it, make sure you tell the others down the line before you skunk them.
7. Resolve any issues before they fester
If someone is blatantly ignoring the rules, the best thing is to mention it politely when they paddle back out, and hope this solves the problem. Shouting, screaming and dropping in as a response will only ensure more hassles in the future and generally won’t solve the original problem.