Snaking in the Surf – Don’t Snake, it’s not cool

To snake a surfer or snaking in the surf is another important rule for all surfers to understand and not do as part of Surf Etiquette.

There are a couple of forms of snaking in the surf.

Firstly, if a surfer has stood up and is riding a wave but drifts away from the pocket (the most critical section of the wave where the wave is breaking) and is surfing more down the line on the open face, it is still their wave. It does not mean that another surfer can then paddle and take off on their inside, closer to the peak. The “Drop In” rule was previously discussed. This rule says that the person on the inside has right of way. However this is in the case of two people paddling at similar times and in a similar are for the same wave. If someone has already caught a wave and is already up and riding, all other surfers should leave that wave to this surfer unless the surfer falls off or pulls out. Using the diagram*, if Surfer A has already stood up and has been surfing the wave and has surfed away from the pocket opening up room for another surfer to paddle for and take off on that wave on the inside, it doesn’t mean that it is acceptable to do so. It is not right for Surfer B to then take off and ride this wave that Surfer A has already been standing and riding for a period of time.

The timing of when things happen determine whether it is snaking or dropping in. if Surfer A and Surfer B were paddling for the wave at a similar time and in a similar position in the line up, then Surfer B is on the inside, it is Surfer B’s wave, so Surfer A should pull off. If however, Surfer A has already been riding the wave and took off well before Surfer B was even in a position to be paddling for a wave, it is Surfer A’s wave and Surfer B should let Surfer A ride it how they want to ride it and where on the wave they want to surf it.

Another form of snaking is where two or more surfers are sitting in the line up waiting for a wave and as a wave is coming, a surfer who was positioned on the outside and not having the inside position, paddles around to take the inside position while in the process of another surfer or surfers paddling for that same wave. This is also very uncool.

One of the skills of surfing is positioning correctly in the ocean to be in the right spot to take waves when they come. This comes from time and experience in the ocean to be able to successfully read the ocean and be in the right spot all the time. It might also depend on the location and a fair rotation system in place that all the surfers are abiding by. It is also not cool for a surfer who has just been on the inside position, has caught and ridden a wave and then paddles straight back out into the line and paddles past everyone to take that inside position again. It is wave hogging and again shows no respect or courtesy to anyone else in the water. Sharing waves and allowing everyone in the line up to catch their share of waves is important and will make the vibe and atmosphere in the water far more enjoyable and happy.

Surf Etiquette Rule # 2 – Snaking in the Surf – Don’t Snake, it’s not cool

* This diagram is taken from the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Manual

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