The drop-in rule: Don't burn your fellow surfers!

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Surfing is a ‘free sport’. There is no one blowing a whistle to tell you when to start and stop, and there are no signs (apart from lifeguard flags) in the ocean telling you where you can and can’t surf. But despite the lack of ‘rules’, surfers really on an etiquette system to keep things fair and safe, and right at the top of this system is the drop-in rule.

The guy on the left, yellow board and black rashie, has blatantly dropped in on the surfer on the right, closest the 'curl'.

All surfers, regardless of ability, should be familiar with this rule before they go out.

A drop-in happens when a surfer takes off on a wave that someone else is already riding. Not only would this ruin the ride for the surfer already on the wave, but it could result in a painful collision between boards and bodies. To ensure your relationship with the ocean and other surfers gets off to a good start, check out these tips:

How to make sure you don’t drop-in

– Look at what way the wave is breaking. Any riders between you and the breaking wave, or ‘inside’ of you, have priority.

– Sometimes it’s hard to see people on your inside, if you hear a whistle or a shout, pull back.

– If you accidentally drop-in, exit the back of the wave as soon as possible. Say sorry and make sure the other surfer is ok before carrying on with your session.

The girl towards the right of the photo is about to catch this wave. To avoid dropping in, the guys towards the left should pull back now.

If you find you are being repeatedly dropped in on:

– Use your voice to let others know you are there. ‘Hey, look out’, or ‘I’ve got this’ or similar; keep it friendly but make yourself heard

– You may be attempting to take off too deep and other surfers know you will not make the take off section. Try moving down the line a bit.

– Have you been waiting your turn for waves or just going for every single one? Share with your fellow surfers.

The likelihood of a drop-in occurring increases with more surfers in the water. This is the time to keep a really cool head, demonstrate some patience, and remember that there are always more waves coming. Happy surfing!

Turns out the lads in the above pic had a good sense of etiquette. Here's our surfer from before, freely shredding the rest of the wave.


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