When paddling out, you need to be aware of surfers catching and riding waves. As quickly as you can, you need to clear the impact zone, the area where the waves are breaking, and move from this area where surfers will be riding through on waves so you do not impede their ride and you do not get in their way.
If when you are paddling out, you get caught on the inside and there is a surfer riding a wave, you need to keep paddling to their inside and stay inside, that is keep paddling to the foam. While the paddle line will be much easier to paddle over the green face on the outside rather than have to paddle back towards the inside and negotiate the impact zone by duck diving or rolling (eskimo roll or turtle roll), the surfer must take the paddle line that will not affect nor impede the ride of the surfer on the wave.
In the diagram*, Surfer A is up and riding while Surfer B is paddling out. It would be much easier and faster for Surfer B to paddle straight up and over the green face but by taking this paddle line, Surfer B will definitely get in the way of Surfer A and Surfer A would have to change his line and potentially have that wave ruined. Surfer B must angle back in toward the inside to the broken wave and have to duck dive the wave. By taking this paddle line, Surfer B allows Surfer A to ride the wave without having to adjust their line to avoid Surfer B and the line up is kept much safer as the risk of collision is greatly minimised. If Surfer B has even the slightest concern that Surfer A’s ride will be affected if the paddle line to green face was chosen, then it always has to be a paddle back inside.
Respecting others in the surf, allowing everyone to catch and ride their waves without getting in their way through selfish decisions will mean everyone stays happy and content, tempers don’t flare and bad vibes are kept at bay because everyone is out there for fun, to enjoy themselves and share good times in a great environment.
Surf Etiquette Rule # 2 – If Caught Inside, Stay Inside
* This diagram is taken from the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Manual