Surfing etiquette 101: How to stay safe in the waves.
So you've finally arrived for your family holiday in Queensland, you've checked into your hotel in Surfers Paradise, and you've rented yourself a surfboard from one of the many friendly surf shops on the Gold Coast.
Now you're ready to hit the waves and give surfing a try right? Well, hold on a second. Before you jump into the ocean it's a good idea to read up on a few of the basic surfing etiquette rules first.
Knowing the do's and don'ts of polite and friendly surfing will help ensure that you not only stay safe in the water, but also that you don't get in the way of any experienced surfers as well.
Rule #1: Know your limits
As with all water sports, the key to having a good time while surfing is in knowing your limits and not venturing out of your depth.
Stick to the shallows until you are comfortable on your board and know how to manoeuvre in the surf. Then gradually make your way out deeper, taking care not to put yourself in any dangerous situations.
While the beaches in Surfers Paradise are generally pretty safe thanks to the friendly community and trained lifeguards on duty, there's no point putting yourself in undue duress.
Take it slow and stay calm at all times, that way you will be hanging ten in no time.
"Never steal a wave from someone who is already catching it, as this is considered bad surf etiquette."
Rule #2: Wait your turn and give way
Even in the carefree world of surfing there are rules about right of way and waiting your turn. When the surf is particularly busy it's important to keep these in mind to ensure no one gets hurt or frightened.
When you paddle out, take note of who was there first and your position in the cue. If someone has been waiting longer than you, allow them to catch their wave first, and don't drop in without warning.
Never steal a wave from someone who is already catching it, as this is considered bad surf etiquette.
Rule #3: Communicate with people
If you are worried that you might collide with someone, or if you are unsure about what to do in any situation, don't be afraid to make some noise and communicate with your fellow surfers.
Be polite at all times and show respect - after all, you are out in the water to have a good time! Leave all those stresses and troubles at home and enjoy your holiday.
If someone breaks the rules and cuts you off or steals your wave, it's OK to have a quiet word with them, but don't ever get angry or aggressive. After all, they might be a beginner surfer as well.
Rule #4: Stay strapped to your board
Surfing is generally a relatively safe activity, however where things can get dangerous is when people let go of their boards, or don't use their straps properly.
The last thing you want in the water is to have surfboards flying around at random, so strap yourself up properly and avoid letting your board go unless absolutely necessary.
Rule #5: Have fun!
Ok, so all of these rules and etiquette tips might seem a little overwhelming, or even intimidating, but relax, they are simply guidelines designed to make sure everyone has fun in the surf.
The surfing community is generally made of some of the most chilled out, friendliest people in Australia, so there's no need to be too worried.
Just do your best to be respectful and to have a good time. That way, everyone will be able to enjoy the water.