Arrogant Local or arrogant Kook?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Ale is a great surfer, a surf instructor for the Algarve Surf School in Portugal, as well as a dear friend of mine. He's been one of the first ones teaching me how to surf and the etiquette to follow in the line up. Today he is here to share a few DO's and DON'Ts that everybody should respect in order to have the best surf session.


Have you ever paddled to a line up and right away noticed a couple of those unwelcoming looks directed to you?

On one of my first trips to the Basque Country in 1998 I got verbally harassed (in Basque language which didn’t really help to understand the reason why) and kicked out of the water by a screaming local guy. I started to say “sorry” and ask “why?” but eventually had to leave to avoid a punch on my face. I really couldn’t figure out why and I surely can’t remember what I did to make him so furious at me but I do remember two things: 
1. An awkward mixed feeling of embarrassment and disappointment
2. The hate towards the local claiming his right on the waves

Who’s right and who’s wrong? I wish I could say that the guy was just another “arrogant aggro local” but the truth is that I was just another “arrogant kook” in the line up without a clue claiming his right to be in the water. Because “nobody owns waves”, because “surf is freedom” and because “the best surfer is the one that is having the most fun” it doesn’t mean that you can splash in the water freely, being all over the place and having so much fun while every other surfer next to you is hating you to bits.

Ale's students learning the paddle technique

Assuming that you can spot the channel and the peak by yourself (if you can’t, that’s a big problem) here’s a few things you should try to avoid when surfing:

  • Paddle out in front of the peak: besides being a massive waste of energy you’ll be blocking other surfers from catching waves. Use the channel, always, not only the first time.
  • Catch the first wave: once you get to the line up you’re last in the queue. Chill out and respect the order. Same after you catch a wave.
  • Paddle battle:  you’re not in a heat and you’re not a pro. Let the other guy go and make a new friend!
  • Paddle, move sideways or sit in front of other people: be invisible! Move sideways behind other surfers and don’t ever stand in front of a guy paddling for a wave expecting him to dodge you. Out of the way man!
  • Ditch the board: it’s never ok to do that. Dangerous surfers are always welcome on the line up….NOT! Duck dives or turtle rolls take a lot of practice - start practicing.
  • Paddle for every wave: you have one chance, then you’re back to the end of the queue. Better catch that wave.
  • Lie on the board: sit and face the waves instead, you’ll spot them earlier and you’ll move out of the way faster.
  • Prove that you’re good: nobody cares how good or bad you are on the surfboard, as long as you’re not annoying other people you’ll be welcome, also there’s probably someone better than you anyway.
  • Keep on saying sorry: once you’re in the line up other surfers expect you to know what you’re doing.

In the water, the way you move and act tells everything. Imagine if every time you’d drive your car following the street rules there was a guy driving the wrong way saying  “sorry, I didn’t know”. That one guy will be enough to put every one else in danger, right? How much would you care about him being sorry? Would you go mental at him or politely take him to the side and explain him the rules and would you then spend half of your time every day to explain to a newbie what he’s supposed to do?

Who’s arrogant then? 
The one that completely ignores the rules but wants to be in the line up or the one that kicks you out (or starts to drop in on you every time) if you don’t know the rules?

Ale is also hosting a Longboard Clinic Week at the Algarve Surf School, where he will be helping intermediate and advanced surfers to improve their longboarding techniques.
Learn more on Algarve Surf School's website and facebook page.


2 comments on "Arrogant Local or arrogant Kook?"
  1. Hey where is that second photo taken? Portugal?! It's gorgeous with the background! Wish I had a picture like this in my books haha

    1. Hi there! I don't know about that particular pic... Anyway I agree, it's gorgeous!


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