THE RULES ON RIGHTS OF WAY FOR SURFERS AND BODYBOARDERS

Surfing and bodyboarding are all about surpassing yourself, contact with nature and feeling free. But, as surfing has become more popular, there are very few spots where you can surf alone and do whatever you like. To get off to a good start in complete safety, you need to know the rules on rights of way.

The rules on rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

While surfing may be a free sport, you will rarely be in the water on your own.To enjoy your session under optimal conditions, both beginners and advanced surfers and bodyboarders must know and obey the rules on rights of way for surfers. The goals are to avoid accidents and respect everyone’s wave. We should remind you that, on dry land and in the water, the rules of good conduct and courtesy are essential.

1/ STAY CLEAR OF ZONES FOR BATHERS

It is inadvisable, or even forbidden, to surf in zones for bathers. Lifeguards often keep watch over bathing zones, which are marked out by coloured flags.By staying out of these zones, you will avoid risking a collision or an accident.

The rules on rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

2/ THE SURFER ON THE INSIDE HAS RIGHT OF WAY

The surfer on the green board, who is closer to the point where the wave is breaking, also known as the "inside", ""has right of way over the surfer on the red board. He keeps right of way for as long as the wave lasts. The other surfers, like the one in red, must not try to catch the same wave, or they must exit the wave as quickly as possible."Stealing" another surfer’s right of way is called "dropping in". Surfers usually make their presence known by crying out:"Yeeeeep",  "right" or  "left".

The rules on rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

3/ INDICATE YOUR DIRECTION ON THE WAVE

When a wave breaks both on the left and the right, both surfers have right of way. It is essential to communicate with the other surfers to let them know whether you will ride to the left or to the right. Ideally, you should let the other surfers who intend to ride the same wave know which way you want to ride.Here again, the key notions are good conduct and courtesy.

The rules on rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

4/ WHEN TWO SURFERS END UP
FACE TO FACE

When two surfers cross paths on a wave that is breaking towards the inside, i.e., to the left and to the right, neither of them has right of way.In this case, both surfers should pull out of the wave as quickly as possible to avoid colliding in an accident. 

The rules on rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

5/ HOW TO RETURN TO THE OUTSIDE
IN SAFETY

Once you have finished riding your wave, always paddle back to the outside without interfering with the surfers who are still standing.When the "lines" of waves are long, always choose the point where the wave is least hollow (where there are no surfers in action), to avoid causing a collision and an accident.

The rules on rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

6/ WHAT IF I FALL IN THE IMPACT ZONE?

If you fall in the "impact zone" (the point where the waves break), don’t try to get back to the "outside" in a straight line. Let the sets of waves go past by waiting in the white water holding your board, then return to the "outside" through the waves, as explained earlier.

The rules on rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

7/ WHAT IF I DROP IN ON ANOTHER SURFER’S WAVE?

If you "drop in" on another surfer by accident, you are advised to pull out of the wave as soon as possible. When you return to the outside, remember to apologise and everything should be OK.The rules applying to rights of way are often posted on noticeboards on the beach or in surfing schools.