Collision Avoidance Skills
It is an unavoidable fact that given a lineup in a good condition, there will be several surfers. In my early days of surfing, I must say that I had more than a handful of situation where I collided with other surfers. In the past few years though I have not had this occur and I do surf sometimes in a crowded situation where long boarders are coming from far outside, and short boarders can cut right in front of me.
I have been thinking a bit about this for a while, but I think it is a good time for me to summarize and write down my experiences and also how I've learned to avoid collisions.
? First, the most important thing is that I know how to avoid the situation that will result in a collision. I never ever take off in a "party wave" situation unless I know how other people would do.
? That brings to the point of observing everyone in the lineup for a few sets. There will always be one that will try to take off on every wave. But mostly those people tend to be less skilled, but not always. If a person is getting every wave, then I am basically "out of the league" at that section of the lineup. But if the surfer is wiping out 3 out of 4 waves then that's a danger sign. Either ways I would move on to other areas where I can be safer. Also there are people who can only go left or right. Combined with someone who do not yet read the waves right, they take off on a wrong direction, and wipe off immediately. If you know this to be a fact then you can almost always take off from the "back side" of the surfer almost right next.
? Good wave reading skills is also important. I now know more or less instinctively which way the next incoming wave will break.
? Have enough skills so that you can look left and right as you paddle into the wave. If I see someone next to me or coming at me, I can stop paddling and turn the board back. I am not good enough yet like doing a kick out after taking off though.
? You know you see on these pro surfer videos that people are duck diving under the surfer? I thought for a while that happens only with pro surfers but that's now quite a bit of routine. If a surfer comes at me just taking off, I can duck under the water and that is actually a big helper.
? When paddling out, I always paddle around. Sure it takes longer to get to the lineup. One trick is that if there is a side current, I walk up the current bit and ride the current back out so that by the time I get out, I am there.
? On inside 38th etc where people tend to be very friendly and laid back, I usually say "going left or right" as I take off. Or give a quick nod that others can go ahead. Usually if I do that other people tend to yield to you.
? Finally, but not the least, I always try to keep smile on my face, greet people as I pass them padding, and say "hey that was a good one!" when I see the members of a lineup catch a nice ride.