You're better than this… aren’t you?
“I had to be aggressive, I was the only girl surfer with all these blokes,” the 1964 World Champion Phyllis O’Donnell, recently told ABC Radio. “If a bloke stood up when I was riding a wave I’d grab them and push them off. Cutting a surfer off on a wave was one of surfing’s biggest no-nos.”
55 years on since Phyllis bravely enforced the rules as a sole woman, things haven’t changed. Surfing relies on surfers to play by the unwritten rules. However as a gentle reminder we thought we’d run through the no-nos. It’s all our jobs to make sure these don’t go down in the lineup.
Just as in Phyllis’ day the drop-in still remains surfing’s ultimate cardinal sin, well, before George Pell took cardinal sins to a whole new level. When a surfer drops-in he or she is effectively trying to dismantle the very bedrock of surfing. If drop-ins were acceptable, there would be anarchy. Look at Malibu or Snapper. Waves can really only be enjoyed by one person and that’s why the drop-in rule exists. Now there are a few exceptions, like when the surf is either below two feet, or above 20 feet, or it’s your last wave in, but 99 per cent of the time any drop-in is the lowest, dirtiest act in surfing.
Apparently this one was a get square by MR on Shaun Tomson, but still one of the best waves ever captured on film.
In the lineup, in an ideal world, surfers will place themselves in a line and await their turn. They will be aware who rode the last wave and operate a fair queue system based on merit. To snake someone is to ignore this finely balanced ecosystem of surfing etiquette. It is a blatant, often hostile act that threatens the stability of the established order. Less overt than the drop in, yet no less damaging, the snake is dirty act where no punishment is too severe.
The Aqua Turd
Okay, sometimes you might get caught short in the surf. Your bowel movements are beyond control and there is absolutely nothing you can do but relieve yourself in the lineup. Now while this may be labeled a natural event, there is still no place in the surfing lineup for the aqua turd. Someone else’s human mini-submarines can wreck a surf, if not a holiday, and really should not be tolerated in the surfing sphere.
The Wax Borrow
Low level criminality sure, but the wax borrow is one of surfing’s most perpetrated crimes. The wax borrower can be seen stalking the car park of surf spots holding up his waxless board in a gesture of pity and hope. Now wax isn’t expensive and while the caught short moment does happen from time to time, there is no excuse for any surfer worth his salt not to be packing his own five-buck cake of wax. The wax borrower tends to be a repeat offender and never sees the need to be wax self-sufficient when everyone else is. As the final straw, just when you thought the wax borrower had pushed the envelope far enough, they will often take your last section of wax, scrape their own board thoroughly and return a piece the size and consistency of a booger. Heinous.
Perhaps the only more dirty act involving wax in surfing is the waxed windscreen. This is a relatively common crime where one surfer, disgruntled with another surfer’s behaviour will vent his irritation by scrawling written abuse in wax on the other’s car. Ninety per cent of the time the main reason for a waxed windscreen is that a surfer has the temerity to live somewhere other than the beach he is surfing at. Apart from being a waste of wax, it is one of the most cowardly acts in surfing.
The Leggie Pull
A rare and isolated occurrence, but one nonetheless that still remains in the top echelon of dirty acts. If done correctly the backward force of the pull will stop the paddler’s momentum and make him or her unable to catch the wave. The most famous example of the leash pull can be seen in the surf movie North Shore when Rick Kane has his leash pulled by his nemesis Lance Burkhart. The dirty act doesn’t prevent Rick from prevailing in the Pipe Masters, but it does mean that the leggie pull can alternatively be called a Burkhart. And no one ever, ever, should be Burkharted.