17 April 2010

Surfing Pet Peeve #3928

There are times when I'm in the water and I can't help but utter the lyrics of yet another Elvis Costello (and Burt Bacharach) song. I had a great session today, but there was a moment when I said to myself, "God, give me strength." Now, most people know I'm not religious. I don't read the Bible. I don't pray. Christianity just doesn't work for me. However, sometimes I just have to throw an invocation out there . . . if only to keep me from surfing up someone's ass and over his head. Seriously.

If you're a new surfer, don't do this. If you're an experienced surfer, don't do this. People, stop doing this! Do not, upon seeing someone paddling for a wave, decide you must place yourself directly in front of her and paddle for the same wave. Now, I won't run you over . . . even if you deserve it. It's too hard to clean the blood, shit and brain matter off my skeg. Or, at least, that's what I've heard.

I jest, yes.

I've had to deal with this kind of behavior for a few years now. I don't remember it happening this much before the lineups got so bloody crowded. I understand that everyone wants a wave. I also understand that at some point you've just got to go, etiquette be damned. My gripe is when you go while I'm going . . . and you're directly in front of me. Did you do meth before the session? Do you really think that's going to go over well? Obviously, there are some who have the ability and the power to do this at will. And that's not okay either. However, I'd say that there's usually a bigger fish in a pond somewhere who will deal with that person.

I'm not a wave hog by any means. I know the folks on shortboards are out there. I will often alert them to an approaching wave and tell them to take it. That's my way of saying, "Hey, I know I can grab this, but it's your turn." If I don't tell them to take it, I will sometimes just give them a look which lets them know I'm going to let the next wave go to them. My life is all about respect. I show everyone respect until given a reason not to do so.

I swear, I'm getting to my point . . . if there is one. Oh!! Well, my point is I'm now becoming less forgiving of this kind of behavior. Today it was a guy on a shortboard. Just as the law gives a dog "one free bite," he was allowed that one breach of etiquette before I took action. I'm not really one to say anything. Part of that is because, contrary to popular belief, I don't like to talk that much when I'm surfing. I can do that on land. Anyway, I go for a wave. It was my turn. And he just turns and paddles right in front of me. If he'd been naked, I'd have been looking directly at his asshole.

Today, I was at a break that favors longboards. The wave is rather slow. No, it's really slow unless you paddle a little further north to where it breaks with a little more vert and a lot more push. (The crowd is just stupid there so I'm content to sit where the lefts roll through.) This guy was on a shortboard. FAIL. This wasn't a day when the wave would deliver anything for him. So what? You're going to paddle your happy ass into my path thinking you'll get something because I've been catching waves all session so I must be sitting on a peak? (I wasn't. I was just surfing my ass off and working for every wave I got.) My point: I'm not having anymore of this. I didn't run him over, but I paid him back in spades. When I paddled for waves, knowing he'd turn and try to go too, I'd paddle so that I eventually came up next to him. All he kept seeing was the nose of my board heading his way. I did it enough times that he finally got the message that he needed to be gone. Sometimes I took the wave. Other times, I just paddled into his space and looked at him, ensuring he wouldn't catch that wave and waiting for him to say something. Nothing was said. My point was made.

The moral of the story is that you don't take a knife to a gunfight and then start casting aspersions at the nice person whose Desert Eagle isn't even loaded. Mind your manners. I will do the same.


At 4/17/10, 6:33 PM, Blogger Ramsnake said...

Well bloody done. It does give one the shits!

At 4/18/10, 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like how there is no nuance to some peoples surfing. I spend 90% of my time on a longboard-mostly because we dont often get that much big surf on the east coast. Like you i'll often sit up and let waves by for the shortboarders. this to me is as much a part of etiquette as not dropping in. But there are longboarders who always paddle back out to peak and get all they can and there are shortboarders whose only method for getting waves it to block. These are all good methods in a way when used correctly and in moderation (with nuance). You can educate someone to their bad behavior with a block (mixed with some stink eye). You can be patient and get your wave by sitting at peak. And you can spread a little aloha by letting a nice set wave go by. And aloha always comes back to you.

At 4/18/10, 1:53 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

Well said, Anon. Perhaps it's time for the longboarders to regulate one another, ensuring they take note of the shortboarders. And it's time for the shortboarders to regulate each other as well.

So who was posed the greatest danger to me yesterday? An SUP surfer who, upon seeing me sit up when he was going for a wave, came back to tell me it would have been okay for me to go. As he paddled up to tell me this, he couldn't stop his SUP (!!!!). I had to grab the nose of his board and deliver a good shove in order to keep him from plowing into both me and my board. Hysterical!

And I will admit to actually giving a wave to that guilty shortboarder later in the session.

At 4/18/10, 8:52 PM, Anonymous Goofyfootmatt said...

I felt your pain this morning. RPB was like the 405, a never ending game of ducking, weaving, intruding, assertion and slamming on the brakes.

From your post, it's not clear if the shortboarder was willful or ignorant. At RPB, you get both types.

Rather than taking the passive-aggressive approach of stink eye, shadow paddling, blocking or griping to my buddies in the lineup, I've found the direct approach often works best. I know try to tell the perpetrator about their breach of etiquette.

If they have game they may tell you to eff off, but it's amazing how a lot of people never got schooled about how to do things right and just need a little education.

At 4/19/10, 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great SUP story surfsister. And i think it was smart for you to let the offending shortboarder get one. It lets him know that you are the sharing type. Maybe took the tension off for the fest of the session. (p.s. really enjoy your blog)

And I agree Goofy, being direct is usually best, and unfortunately i only use words when im really pissed. But often a look (not a mean look just a firm one) directed at just one person doesn't ruin the vibe in the water the way any discussion might. You can't always predict how defensive people will get to even the most gentle approach.

-Annn from brooklyn

At 4/19/10, 7:39 PM, Anonymous Soul Arch Matt said...

I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words. Therefore, I just run them over. Its the most effective way of making the point that they shouldn't do it.

At 4/23/10, 8:24 PM, Blogger reef said...

I like your style. It's like that on weekends around here, shortys geekin' up the inside at a mainly LB break.


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