The weather recently has seen slightly less wind (generally) with the direction being offshore in some coastal locations. Not all, we appreciate, but many. High pressure and lighter breeze an make for offshore groomed wave perfection at a lot of locations. IF the ground swell keeps pulsing then you have pretty good SUP surfing conditions.
With more and more SUPers looking to tackle a few waves, and with the West Country being a short hop for many (Cornwall, Devon and Wales being headline locations for wave riding activities), it’s not hard to see why so many have been making the pilgrimage to Kernow. There’s a raft of paddlers now getting involved in paddle surfing. And while that’s great, and should be encouraged, knowledge and understanding of rules of the road need to be at the forefront of minds. Surf etiquette is a must have bit of knowledge for any level of budding ‘surfer’.
Back at SUP’s inception in the UK (pre-2010) there was a mad scramble to make sure everyone understood surf etiquette. A load of work was also done to highlight stand up paddling isn’t simply a wave riding activity – as we all know it’s much more diverse than that. During the course of a few years SUP’s focus switched from wave to flatter water paddling and these days recreational stand up paddling far outweighs any other style – for the moment. But that may change in time with such large numbers of new SUP recruits coming into the fold.
Paddlers getting into the sport more recently will have certainly started off sweeping outside of wave zones but as with all things, having done their time learning, riders looking to progress will naturally search out that next level and stand up paddle surfing is usually it. Being more accessible than downwind SUP, for instance, wave sweeping will deliver all the thrills and spills you could want. And actually, while we mention the South West there are plenty of other mellow SUP surfing spots that’ll entice budding wave paddlers. Yet surf etiquette needs to be kept in mind wherever you’re riding.
Over the years stand up has carved out a bunch of popular spots and you can pretty much put a pin in the map at the headline locations. For various reasons these launches are now etched in the consciousness of paddlers and each time a corduroy chart lines up it’s the same beaches seeing sweepers from near and far arrive to battle Mother Ocean.
Surfers in the beginnings of wave SUP weren’t that tolerant, and understandably so. This new craft – big heavy boards and riders wielding perceived weapons – were considered dangerous. Through a lot of hard work and effort attitudes towards SUP in surf mellowed and a once demonised activity (by some) became more accepted.
We’re all free to do as we please and paddle how we see fit. But a lack of respect for surfers, paddle surfers and water users isn’t going to be tolerated. As ambassadors of SUP we need to be leading the way with good behavior and a sign of how things should be done.
Just because you can pick off any wave you choose doesn’t mean you should, for instance. Far better – especially if the swell’s pumping – is to let waves go, give fellow riders a heads up to approaching sets (after all SUPers can see these swinging in first) and most importantly DON’T drop in or snake waves. Now don’t get us wrong. We appreciate mistakes and accidents happen. In some instances an apology, or at least acknowledgement, will go a long way and help keep the peace in the line up.
Even if you’ve been paddle surfing for a while a refresher of surfing etiquette is a good thing. Have fun out there but above all be respectful. If the line up’s looking busy maybe head elsewhere to quieter peaks. Keep it fun and friendly and help keep stand up paddle surfing’s name a good one.
A good article to read on surf etiquette is this –
It may be about surfing prone but the rules of the road apply to paddle surfers as well. Have a read and bank the knowledge so you can put it into practice next time you’re out in the waves.
Find out more about SUP surfing via teh following link –