‘Sharing is caring’, they say or at least is supposed to be caring. But many surfing enthusiasts don’t feel this way when they go to their local surfing spots and find them…crowded! Yes, more and more people are taking up surfing and there will be times when it will be like the entire world has decided to surf in your favorite spots. This may even happen more often than you’d like if your surfing spot is near a populated area.
“Frak, I’m outta here!”
“Where did you come from? I surf here every damn day and I’ve never seen you before?”
“I remember the good ol’ days when this place wasn’t crowded like a freaking market.”
“How can anyone ever have fun with the tons of bodies here?”
These are just a few of the several comments surfers have made out of frustration when they find their favorite spots crowded. But more people taking up surfing doesn’t mean everyone has to be miserable. ‘The more, the merrier,” can apply to surfing if everyone has proper surfing etiquette and treats others with respect and courtesy.
Surfing in a crowded spot can be tricky but here are the top ten tips that can ensure you keep having fun.
10 Tips For Surfing in a Crowded Lineup
Go with the right expectations
The main reason there are tensions and even fights at crowded surfing spots is that many people go there expecting to have free rein of the waves. But reality and expectation can sometimes be very different. People are more interested in surfing than ever and you are going to find more boards in the water.
More boards mean more people competing for waves and this can be more hectic than you are prepared for. But if you are anything like us, a few extra boards aren’t going to dampen the fun for you. Go to your surfing spot with the mindset that you aren’t the only one there to enjoy the waves.
Brush up your surfing etiquette and treat your fellow surfers with respect. Be willing to share the waves and cooperate with other surfers so that everyone can have a nice time.
Surf at less busy times
If you are hell-bent on not sharing waves, then your best bet is to surf at less busy times. Typically, surfing spots tend to experience peak crowds around midday on weekends. Also, there will be a sizable crowd after working hours on weekdays as some people fancy cruising on the waves after work.
Going to your surfing spot at the times mentioned above means you have to share, full stop. However, dawn and dusk are the best time for the ‘selfish’ (and I mean this in a good way, haha) surfer that wants more waves for himself/herself. It may not be the most convenient time but it’s the sacrifice you have to make.
You’ll also find more people surfing when tide conditions are predicted to be ideal. And if you really aren’t keen on surfing with a lot of people, you should consider surfing a bit early or later after that prime window.
Get an overview of the lineup from a distance
Look before you leap! It’s advisable to scout your surfing destination from afar to have an idea of the situation. This can allow you to understand the dynamics at the spot and see how and where the waves break. So, on getting to your destination, you can pick a suitable spot based on your previous scouting mission.
Note that you don’t necessarily have to go for the best waves but waves you think you have more chance of catching and thus having fun. Usually, waves that break wide of their peak don’t have a lot of surfers trying to catch them and you may target such waves for your entertainment.
Position yourself well for waves
If you are going to have fun in a crowded spot, then you need to position yourself better for waves. More often than not, there’s a pattern to most of the better waves as they come in we’ll defined sets. You can give yourself a fair advantage by determining the amount of time between waves (which can be up to 10 mins). Of course, you’ll need to have a wristwatch with you to do this accurately.
So when you discover the time interval between waves, you can use that knowledge to get in position early during the next wave and put yourself in a superb position to catch more waves. Of course, there are times when this method may not work especially on small and choppy days. But on days they work, you are going to feel like a superstar.
Be patient but compete
Patience is a virtue and you are going to need a healthy dose of it if you intend to surf in a crowded spot. Adjusting your expectations as previously explained will help you be as patient as you need to be. There are several people in the surfing lot competing for a limited number of waves. The ratio is far from balanced and while you have to be patient, you can’t be too patient.
You will need to compete if you are to ever catch any wave. And you know what, healthy competition is good for your mind and soul. You will have to put yourself in position and paddle with the intent to get on the waves. Let other surfers know you aren’t a pushover! You don’t have to say anything as they will figure it out with your commitment and laser focus.
Respect the local and better surfers and don’t get in their way
Remember that locals come out to surf almost every day. I’ll also go surfing every day if a freaking surfing spot is near. Whenever visiting any spot, be friendly and respectful to the locals. You are going to earn some respect for yourself this way and gain friends. And who knows the good things those friendships could do for you?
In addition to respecting the locals, also respect surfers that are better than you and make it a point not to get in their way. And a way to ensure you don’t get in their way is to choose a spot that’s suitable for your ability.
Should you go for a spot that’s out of your ability range, you are going to get several surfers angry because you’ll be wasting valuable waves. Also, you could injure other surfers and they aren’t going to look kindly at you for becoming a potential hazard to them.
Help beginners get better and be friendly
You’ll find several beginners in a crowded spot. Some may look overwhelmed, out of place, or have no idea about what they are doing, haha. And if you have some time to spare, perhaps after catching a couple of waves, you can decide to help the newbies by giving them a couple of tips. They’ll surely appreciate your kind gesture.
Overall, be friendly to other surfers. Look, if you are going to be with several people competing for waves, you should try to be friendly so you can have more fun. Realize that everybody here isn’t out to her you and nice gestures like complimenting a surfer after a good wave or even a simple nod can go a long way in spreading good vibes and building friendships with people.
Follow the crowd
You have to keep an eye on what the crowd is doing in a crowded spot. Sometimes, someone may spot a set wave early and start paddling to get a headstart. Then, you’ll find many people padding after the fella. Other times, it could be that the crowd is trying to get out of the way of something you can’t see or just paddling to maintain position in the face of a strong current.
If you aren’t a fan of just blindly following the crowd, you should consider keeping an eye on experienced surfers or locals if you can spot them and follow their lead.
Fill yourself with gratitude
See surfing as a privilege not an entitlement. There are many people out there that want to grab a board and have a go at surfing but can’t for different reasons. That you are able to ride the waves and experience one of the purest forms of fun is a privilege! Surfing is a different kind of fun, a different kind of high, and you should fill yourself with gratitude for the opportunity to experience the sport.
Search for less popular spots
If you find your local surf break constantly overrun, you may consider finding less popular spots. This isn’t as difficult as you think as a quick Google search or inquiries from your surfing buddies or community will point you in the right direction.
There are several surfing destinations around the world that don’t get a lot of attention because are tougher to get to (some even require a bit of hiking), only work with a specific tide, direction, and so on. Finding your way to these spots can allow you to have all the waves you’ve ever wanted.
The increased popularity of surfing means more and more people are visiting surf breaks and having a crowded spot is inevitable. But a crowded spot doesn’t mean you can have fun as long as you go there with the right mindset and exhibit the proper behavior.