My Surfing Commandments

Unlike many mainstream sports, surfing doesn’t have a rule-book, just unwritten rules. For beginners, it’s like being expected to be a mind reader.

To help, here are my 10 surfing commandments. Regardless of your surfing level, whether you are paddling in the foam or out back, we all need to respect these rules.

  • Don’t drop in. Stick to one person per wave direction only. If someone is already riding the wave, don’t paddle for it.
  • Know your limitations. As you progress, you will want to take on new breaks and challenging waves. This is how you will learn and improve. If in doubt don’t paddle out. If something doesn’t feel right, follow your instincts.
  • Never paddle through the peak (the breaking part of the wave). Always use the designated channel or paddle wide, staying well away from riders enjoying the waves.
  • Don’t get aggro. You can ruin your surf as well as everyone else’s.
  • Don’t be a snake. Paddling around a surfer to get yourself into the better priority position will only leave you as the least-liked surfer in the water.
  • Right of way. The surfer closest to the peak has right of way.
  • Wait your turn. Regardless of whether you are waiting out back for the set wave or in the foamies up front, wait in line. If you paddle for a wave and miss it, you go to the back of the queue and are not entitled to the next wave.
  • Caught inside, stay inside. You may find yourself caught with a big set of waves about to pound you and it looks mighty inviting to paddle up the face of the wave.
  • Hang on to your board. Never let go, because taking someone for stitches or swimming to shore with a snapped leash is never fun.
  • Help others. Surfing is about mutual respect, the roaring waves, and the stillness of the back line as you wait for the next set. It’s there for everyone to enjoy, so whether it’s helping someone in distress or subtly showing someone a leash strap is better on your ankle than around yourneck, it all makes a huge difference.


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Roxy Davis is proudly 'Capetonian', having grown up in Kommetjie, Cape Town. Roxy has won multiple South African Surfing titles. She is a professional surf coach, business owner, wife and mother with a real zest for life and adventure!

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