Surfers get scrappy on crowded wave.
Surfers get scrappy on crowded wave.

As the saying goes from the 1991 cult classic Point Break, “surfing is the source.” Well if you’re jockeying for priority on the waves of Coolangatta on Australia’s Gold Coast, surfing might be the source of a black eye. Here’s six minutes of contentious surfing highlights from Coolangatta including swear fingers, clotheslines and rabbit punches:

Surfing crowded lineups requires using proper etiquette at all times. Here’s a quick rundown of from The City of Del Mar, California:


It’s important to observe the correct etiquette while surfing, otherwise there is risk for injuries. Most of the do’s and don’ts here are advice and can be used in most occasions. Please try to adhere to these unwritten rules, keep yourself out of trouble, and enjoy your surfing. 

Observe Right of Way

Learn who has the right of way on the wave:

  • Furthest out: the surfer that is furthest out or that has been waiting longest
  • Furthest inside: the closest surfer to the peak of the breaking wave
  • First to feet: the first to feet or first onto the wave
  • Communication: the call of “Left!” or “Right!” if the wave is dual-peaking

Don’t Drop In

Cutting in front of other surfers who are up and riding is a quick way of getting yourself in trouble or injured with other surfers. Observe the right of way.

Don’t Snake

Repeatedly paddling round someone to get into the inside position on a wave is a no-no.

Don’t Hog the Waves

Share them around. Even if you can paddle furthest outside and catch the waves first every time you reach the lineup, don’t do it often. 

Do Apologize

If you drop in on someone, run over someone, or breach the etiquette and rules in any way, just apologize. It’s just good manners. We’ve all done things that we shouldn’t have when out surfing, saying sorry goes a long way to smoothing things over.

Respect the Locals

Keep in mind that the locals surf the spot every day. Give respect while visiting a spot, keep things friendly, earn some respect for yourself. Don’t mob surf spots in large numbers. Don’t rush straight outside, take your time.

Learn the Right Way to Paddle Out

This includes not ditching your board or paddling into the path of other surfers. Take a moment to observe the waves and time your paddle out accordingly with the timing of sets and use your best judgment to avoid other surf users.  If you have questions don’t hesitate to ask a lifeguard.

Surf Spots that Suit your Ability

Try not to pick a spot that is out of your ability range. You’ll only end up upsetting the other surfers by getting in the way or being a potential hazard for everyone.  Always check with lifeguards if you are unsure on where to surf.

Help other Surfers

Always aid another surfer in trouble. Surfing can be dangerous and even fatal, look after each other.

Respect the Beach

Leave only footprints. Don’t litter, graffiti, vandalize, or otherwise impact the beach or surroundings.

Make sure you have proper and functional equipment such as a leash, sunscreen, and wetsuit for cold or warm conditions.

Remember to inquire with local Lifeguards for detailed information on safety, rules, and conditions. Enjoy the waves!

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