We have discussed the paddle line in Rule #2 – If Caught Inside, Stay Inside. Rule # 4 discusses the paddle line that a surfer should take when they are paddling back to the line up but paddling where the waves have not broken.
As we talked about the importance of paddling back inside not to impede the ride of a surfer already on a wave and riding it, surfers need to ensure that they paddle wide enough from the wave and a paddle line is taken that they are not going to impede and interfere with the line a surfer riding the wave will be taking.
There will more than likely be a shorter paddle time and paddle distance a surfer can take by cutting the paddle. This may mean a more direct line back to the take off zone but can detrimentally affect the line of a surfer riding a wave and force a surfer to change their line and possibly ruin their wave. It can also put that paddler into a dangerous position and at risk of being run over by the surfer.
A surfer paddling back out must take a paddle line that will not impede a surfer on a wave and a line that will not get in a surfers way while riding a line.
In this diagram*, Surfer A is riding the wave and while Surfer B could have made a shorter line and possibly paddled closer to the breaking zone for a more direct line back to the take off zone, by staying wider and taking a paddle wide approach, Surfer B has stayed out of danger of being hit and allowed Surfer A to ride the wave without interference or being force to change their line.
Again it comes back to respecting everyone in the ocean and allowing everyone to enjoy each wave to the fullest. It makes for a much happier, friendlier atmosphere in the surf and also a much safer place to be.
Surf Etiquette Rule # 4 – Paddle Wide, Stay Alive
* This diagram is taken from the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Manual