Going on a surf trip essentially involves surfing as an unlocal. A lot is made of being a ‘local’ in surfing, far too much probably. But you’re gonna have to face the reality that you might be an unwelcome addition to someone’s day, and while it’s not worth losing sleep over, here are 7 simple steps towards help avoid bad vibes, angry words... even a knuckle sandwich... Yikes!


The Azores used to be notorious for angry locals, and while it may have mellowed a touch, it’s still a very good idea to tread lightly, like Marco Giorgi. Photo: Bracourt

1. Split up

The number one rule is rock up in a small group, preferably of one. Nothing worse than paddling out as a five or six, as hatred is often proportional to group size. If you are team-handed, stagger the paddle out. Three dull groups of two will go a lot more low profile than one pack of six shiney bell ends.

2. Slow down

Show up and watch it a while before paddling you. This shows patience, and less of gimme gimme gimme vibe. It’ll also allow you to suss out who is dominating, who looks hard/angry, who to avoid, etc.

3. Curb your enthusiasm

Sure you’re keen, frothing even. But try to keep a lid on it. Don’t paddle for too many waves until you’ve been in the lineup a while and realized nobody else is on them. Let waves go to local if they look like paddling too. Avoid paddle battles.

4. Try to blend in

Pink wetsuit? Yellow board? Helmet cam? Neoprene Batman cape? It’s like asking to be hated. Don’t give em an excuse. We’re not saying you have to wear all black rubber and logo-less board... but blending in not only lessens the chance of dislike on your general appearance, but also makes it harder to remember you had a bomb on the last two sets.

5. SSSSShhhhhhh; Don’t shout across folk

In a foreign land, don’t shout in English. If you must chat to your bro/sis, do it when you’re sitting/paddling next to each other at opportune moments.

Pink wetsuit? Yellow board? Helmet cam? Neoprene Batman cape?

6. No paparazzi

Don’t rock up and fire off a memory card of shots/video in the first ten mins. Keep the camera on the down low. Again, it’s just giving crew an excuse to hate on your unlocal ass. If you must shoot, shoot after you’ve surfed.

7. If you do get a bomb...

If you do get a bomb through no fault of your own, paddle half way back out and wait in the channel pretending to adjust your wetsuit neck and just kind of drift slowly into the lineup in last place. Kind of sends out the right message.

Just a thought: The thing is, you can do all the right things and someone, somewhere will still want you dead (or at least not there). Don’t worry about it. As Mark Cunningham, legendary Hawaiian bodysurfer/lifeguard/waterman said, “If the vibe is shitty, guys getting aggro, I just split. There’s always another spot, another session, it’s about fun right? And if it’s not pleasurable being out there, don’t be..."

Just coz day glow is back in with some of the pros, doesn't necessarily make it a wise choice.