Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Paddle In Peace: Respect Your Prone Brother

Brewer, over at the SB paddle blog has a little piece about finally having to tell some local paddlers to mind their manners in the surf. I've been hearing some buzzing about tension in the water around our parts- so I thought I'd take an opportunity to put my feelings out there. Here's a little piece from an upcoming project I'm working on. You'll see it in June in its complete form- but for now, this piece seemed appropriate:

It’s a sad reality that all is not rainbows and unicorns in the surfing family. As stand up paddle surfing becomes more and more popular, the prone surfing population has become increasingly vocal about their disdain for us, their upright brothers. The days of open fascination have begun to give way to open confrontation or at the very least the insidious “stink eye”. And, frequently, they’ve got a point- some of us have been pigs.

The increased mobility and ease of wave catching can transform even the mellowest surfer into a wave-eating beast. I’ve watched two stand up paddlers take over a spot, endlessly looping from peak to channel, plundering every wave that even hinted at breaking and generally pissing off everybody in the lineup. Including me, a fellow stand up surfer! Unfortunately, the victims of this bad behavior transfer their ire onto the entire SUP community and the bad blood spreads from break to break.

There is good news though. There are stand up paddlers who have what I call “special immunity”, these are the guys who through their actions and force of personality are able to stand up surf almost anywhere. These surfers practice, without even knowing it, a code of surfing ethics that is more than a set of rules. It’s a mindset, a way of being.

Here are my suggestions to help build harmony in the line up. Practice these and develop your own special immunity.

1. Paddle through not out: It’s much more difficult to get upset at a moving target. Look at surf spots as targets of opportunity and hit them as you’re moving through. Don’t pull up in the parking lot, eyeball the main event peak and paddle straight out to it. Remember, you’re just playing through, so move along.

2. Charity: Give away a lot of waves. Sit down on your board and purposefully take yourself out of the action. You don’t need to make a big show of it, in fact the quieter you are, the more “in the know” you seem, the more of an impact this action will have.

3. Competence: Know your limits. If you are a beginner you should surf the worse, most abandoned, empty waves in your county. If you can’t control yourself or your board, you’ve got no reason to be near others. Surfers respect competence, ride the wave cleanly, pull out and finish the wave correctly. These little things, in the eyes of the knowledgeable, tell them all they need to know about you and how you look at surfing.

4. Never call anybody off of a wave: Vocalizing never helps, it only labels you as the loudmouth. And a stand up loud mouth is the worst kind of loudmouth. Instead, encourage prone surfers to take off in front of you. Trust me, you’ll get plenty more.

5. Fill the holes: As you paddle through, look for surfer-voids. Now fill them. Easy as that, bounce from hole to hole and you’ll never have a problem.

These are the guidelines I’ve tried to live by in my paddling life; they’ve served me well. Like all guidelines they are flexible, use good judgment, keep your cool and if all else fails…. paddle away. Good luck and happy surfing!


Jim Brewer said...

John-Thats a great post. Thanks.

srfnff said...

Great rules to SUP by! Thanks John.

John Ashley said...

Gentlemen: I've got to figure out how to make one of those nifty little picture icons like you both have- those things rule.

Anonymous said...

john wise words now to live by it.already lost my key to one spot.the eyeball looking at me was not i paddle ib still polluted.