The rules of rights of way for surfers and bodyboarders

The rules of rights of way for surfers

Surfing is 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 priority.

Surf and bodyboarding are well known for being free sports. But beginners must learn the rules about rights of way.The goal is to avoid accidents and respect everyone’s wave. Of course, the most important rules are good manners and courtesy.


Rule no.1: bathing areas

It is highly inadvisable, even forbidden, to surf, bodyboard or use an SUP board in zones reserved 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.


Rule no.2: right of way on waves when surfing or bodyboarding

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. They keep this right of way for as long as the wave lasts. The other surfers, like the one on the red board, must not take off on this wave.


Rule no.3: indicating your direction on the wave when surfing or bodyboarding

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.


Rule no.4: crossovers when surfing and bodyboarding

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. 


Rule no. 5: going back "outside" on your surfboard/bodyboard

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.


Rule no.6: falls 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 below.

Tips on surfing and bodyboarding:

If you "drop in" on another surfer's wave by mistake, you should pull out of the wave as quickly as possible. The rules applying to rights of way are often posted on noticeboards on the beach or in surfing schools.

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