Don’t Be a Kook

Illustration by Mark Nerys

We’ve got this word in surfing—kook. It used to be how we described a beginner. That’s not true anymore. A kook is someone who’s clueless but thinks he knows it all.You can spot one a mile away: pulling up with the board strapped to the car roof, wax side up (the sun melts the wax, dummy). I’ve seen people with their wetsuits on backward and their ankle leash strapped to their wrist. To be clear: The leash goes on your back foot.

• Do not drop in on another surfer’s wave. It’s the equivalent of cutting off a car on the Belt Parkway, reckless and dangerous. Look before you go!

• Don’t paddle right out to the peak. There’s always a pecking order in the lineup, with guys who have put the most time in at that spot getting the right of way. Sit on the margins at first. If you’re respectful and you can surf, the locals will recognize that. They may even let you take a set wave.

If somebody does give you a wave, you’d better make it. There’s nothing worse than offering somebody a good one and watching him blow it.

• Do not, under any circumstance, ditch your board. You may at times be tempted to throw your board to the side and dive under a wave. Don’t do it. People behind you can get injured. Expensive boards can get dinged. Take your lumps: It is part of learning to surf.

Don’t Be a Kook