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Surfing Right of Way

Surfer in red never has the right of way. Go green and have fun.

Surfing Right of Way

  1. Paddler closest to the breaking wave has possession.
  2. Green is surfing, Red may not drop in.
  3. Red is the first to catch the wave, but is too far ahead of the pocket to claim possesion. Green can claim the wave by dropping into the pocket, but must remain alert to the possibility of Red turning back into him.
  4. Green is tight to the pocket; Red has no business dropping in this close.
  5. Red is attempting a soup take-off, but Green has caught the wave on the face and has right of way.
  6. Green is coming back to the wave face and is not caught in the soup. Red may not surf.
  7. Red has lost forward momentum and is caught in the soup. Green may take possession.
  8. When Red wipes out, Green may surf.
  9. Both boats may surf from one peak if they go in opposite directions and their paths don't cross.
  10. Red is attempting to take off behind the peak. Green may go if Red can't make the section. Careful judgment is needed; Red might be good enough to make the wave.
  11. Green has sole possession and may take off behind the peak.
  12. Neither surfer has right of way in a collision situation.
  13. Green has right of way but may not hit Red. Under contest rules Red may be called for interference if he impedes Green's progress.

Note: These rules apply evenly to kayaks, surfboards, and body boards.

Adapted from Surf Ski Quarterly vol.2 no.4. Original article by Robert Saunders