Surf etiquette means many things to many people. It is an unwritten code that makes surfing work, well most of the time. It is forever changing and forever being broken. So to help you with the finer details of one of surfing’s most nebulous of concepts here is the first leg of an A-Z of surf etiquette that will make it all as clear as mud.

Laird, being aware in Fiji this year. Photo Joli Laird, being aware in Fiji this year. Photo Joli

A - Aware

Be aware. Laird Hamilton told GQ, “I got run over by a guy when I was sixteen and he broke my leg. A guy ran me over with a giant longboard, and it compounded my leg, and that was one of those things that you learn, like, 'Don't trust that the guy sees you and that they're going to avoid you.' Just remember that they're probably going to run you over if you don't watch where you're going." The UK's Tom Lowe can vouch for that, especially after Laird’s SUP mowed him down at Chopes and smashed his knee in 12 parts.


Barbecues are a post surf tradition and have careful rules in place. Never, ever, touch a man’s tongs for starters, as an attempt to do so is the equivalent of trying to finger his wife. As a guest, always bring beer and lots of it. When hosting a barbecue, a knock on the door should never be answered. This means the guest isn't carrying the required case of beer. Only ever answer a kick on the door.

C - Call

Having the inside it is good etiquette to let your fellow surfers know that you are about to ride the wave. MP famously used a whistle at Kirra that would reverberate inside the tube. A long and loud “Oooooiiiiiiiii” is the most common while Maroubra’s “Don’t even think about it $unt” is probably the most effective. A good, loud call means the drop in excuse, “I didn’t hear you can never be used.

D- Drugs

Surfing and drugs have been intertwined since Neco Padaratz was banned for taking steroids in 2005. That was the first time a surfer had ever taken drugs. Drug etiquette is a long and tedious subject that those only addicted to drugs ever partake in. Having said that, the packer always has the first cone.

E - Etiquette  

Coming from the French verb meaning to paddle inside.

F - Fashion

As important, or more important than actual surfing. By wearing the right clothes at the right to signify you are a surfer is more important that anything you do in the water.

Alex Knost doesn't even need to paddle out. Photo Joli Alex Knost doesn't even need to paddle out. Photo Joli

G - Grommets

Once upon a time grommet abuse was a fundamental platform on the way to adulthood. I’m not quite sure why physical and mental abuse of weaker members of the tribe has been replaced with positive role modeling, but I for one lament the loss of the physical beatings of vulnerable pubescent teens. A real shame.

H - Hellman

The hellman deserves the utmost respect, even when he is paddling on the inside on a two foot day and riding waves with a stance as wide as a freeway. For when its gets big, and the crowd disappears, and the hellman paddles out, alone, all is forgotten. On just those ten days a year, the hellman earns his get out of jail card for the other 355.

I - Iffy

Things can often be a bit iffy. When the surf is a bit iffy, always paddle out. If the takeoff is a but iffy, always takeoff.

J - Jump (Rock)

First off you should always take on the rock jump, even if a safer yet longer paddle option exists. Sure you might risk breaking an ankle or putting your chin through a barnacle encrusted cheese grater, but the credibility is worth it. Once completed and on the inside (unless its the Superbank where anything goes) you must then resist every urge to take off on the first set. Protocol demands you let at least one set through before taking your rightful place.

K - Kooks

Don’t be a kook and carry your fins forward, or claim a headdip, or throw your board on a four footer, or punch a surfer, or paddle on the inside, or get braids in Bali, or drop in, or not travel, or litter, or, ah you get it, just don’t be a kook.

L - Logging

Has replaced the less cool “longboarding” term by the youth, and refers to riding longer equipment, but in an old school manner. Logging is now deemed appropriate in waves that make shortboards less functional and riding on the nose can even get you sexual favours from the opposite sex.

Laura, logging not longboarding. Photo Joli Laura, logging not longboarding. Photo Joli