UNCW Surf Club banner image.

Home   |   Membership   |   Donate to the Club   |   Team   |   Scholarship   |   Photos   |   Club History   |   Alumni   |   News


Surf Safety and Etiquette:

With an increasing number of people moving to the coasts, it is inevitable that more people will be using the coastal waters. In the United States, "people have been migrating to the coasts since World War II ... more than half of the nationís population lives in coastal counties, which make up just 11 percent of the land area of the lower 48 states, and the density of people in coastal counties is several times that of other parts of the country. By the year 2025, three out of every four Americans will live within a hourís drive of the shoreline (1)."

Recognizing these changes and the impacts on coastal recreation, the UNCW Surf Club is committed to promoting safety and consideration in the waters (2). Please see below for things to keep in mind when enjoying the coasts.

I.  Safety

  1. Look out for swimmers and other surfers in your area.
  2. When possible, look around before abandoning your board. Please consider other people's safety in the water.
  3. Pay attention to the lifeguards. They're out there for everyone's safety.
  4. Use a leash when surfing around others.
  5. If you get caught in a rip do NOT try to paddle against it -- paddle across it.
  6. Learn to identify rips, wind changes and other hazards. This may reduce your risk and will help you become a better surfer. Please see Break the Grip of the Rip for some great additional information. 
  7. If you get into trouble always stay with your board - - it is your flotation device.
  8. It's a good idea to check with local residents, surf shops, or lifeguards for possible hazards in the water.
  9. Only surf waves of a size and power suitable to your ability - - do not get too confident.
  10. Please clean up your mess. Trash inevitably ends up in the water, and can harm you and coastal wildlife.
  11. Don't surf alone (3).
  12. When possible, assist others in trouble. 

II.  Etiquette

  1. When paddling for a wave always check to see if another surfer is already on the wave. If there is another surfer already riding the wave it is that person's wave and you should not drop in on him/her.

  2. A surfer riding a wave has priority over a surfer paddling out. It is the responsibility of the surfer paddling out to avoid the collision, either paddle towards the white water or dive under the wave to avoid the approaching surfer.

  3. A surfer on a wave should also recognize surfers paddling out. In some cases, the surfer riding the wave may be more able to avoid a collision with those paddling out. Nonetheless, paddlers should do their best to get out of the way, but the idea stressed here is safety. 

  4. When two surfers catch the same wave the surfer closest to the pocket or breaking part of the wave, has priority and the other surfer should pull off the wave.

  5. If two surfers catch the same wave the surfer who is up and riding first, all other things being equal, has priority.

III.  Additional Information

  1. Town of Wrightsville Beach - includes information on summer surfing restrictions and includes a map designating the rotating surfing areas.

  2. Wetiquette - the definitive guide to surfing nice with others.

  3. Surfers Code of Ethics - from NEsurf.com, includes diagrams and information on surfing etiquette.

  4. Surfer's Bill of Rights - from Surfline.com. See the site's Surfology section for more information on weather and forecasting, how-to's, and terminologies.

  5. Rip Current Information - sponsored by North Carolina Sea Grant and the National Weather Service, the site includes information on identifying rip currents, rip current forecasts, along with posters and brochures on promoting rip current awareness. Also see the National Weather Service webpage: Break the Grip of the Rip

  6. Surf Safety and Public Information - sponsored by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA).

  7. Boating and Water Safety - sponsored by the United States Coast Guard.
Michael Weber and Judith Gradwohl. The Wealth of Oceans. (New York : W.W. Norton and Company, 1995), 135.

For further information on the dynamics of life along the nation's coastlines, please see NOAA's State of the Coast Report, which provides scientific and technical information on the health of the nation's coastal areas. (last accessed March 5, 2003).

"New Jersey surfer Daniel Fraunhofer drowns while surfing alone in chilly 4-foot beachbreak near the jetty off of Spring Beach after apparently being hit on the head by his 9'6" board. A search is launched when his board is found lying on the beach with a snapped leash in the late afternoon. The Coast Guard locates the 28-year-old experienced surfer a half-mile out to sea, still alive but unconscious, and too late for resuscitation efforts." Big Waves: This Day in Surfing. http://www.bigwaves.com/thisday/ (last accessed March 4, 2003).

About the UNCW Surf Club:
With its earliest foundations dating back to 1977, the UNCW Surf Club is a young and rising organization since its recent renewal in 2001. The purpose of the UNCW Surf Club is to provide a a surf-oriented, recreational, instructional, competitive, and conservation-minded organization for current UNCW students, faculty, and staff. For more information on the history of the Surf Club, please see the Club's history page.

UNCW Surf Club  |  University of North Carolina Wilmington
601 South College Road, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403
http://www.uncw.edu/surf  |