Some call it surf localism, some call it bad manners and some people don’t say anything at all. Instead, they just beat the crap out of other surfers. Unfortunately, localism in surfing is something that you need to be aware of, especially if you’re traveling around and visiting new spots.
Yep, it’s the age-old situation of “Who the hell are you bru?” and “You better sit on the shoulder”. If you enjoy surfing, then you’ve probably experienced surf localism at some stage of your surfing journey.
While it’s seldom a predictable encounter, getting on the wrong side of surf locals can be avoided. To help, we thought we would sum up four locations that are known to be the home turf of surfers that are likely to kick your teeth in for catching a wave in their waters.
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Tips to Avoid Aggravating Surf Localism
The easiest way to avoid territorial surfers is to do your research before jumping into the waters of a new spot. Find out if there have ever been any stories of aggression and keep that in mind when paddling out.
Often the surfers are just possessive over their waves. If you’ve ever been a surfer local to an area, then you’ll understand the itch that rises when a hoard of newbies paddle out and demand that you share your wave.
With this in mind, here are a few rules of etiquette and precaution to help you enjoy your surf without stepping on any toes.
- Don’t drop in on anyone – This one may be the most obvious tip, but it pays to wait your turn in the lineup and look both ways before popping up
- Just back off – If someone acts aggressively, just call it a day and give them space (it’s not worth being drowned)
- Prepare your body physically – It may sound extreme, but you never know when you may come across trouble in the water – either man or nature
- Pick a different spot – Sometimes it’s best to avoid the problem entirely as there are plenty of amazing surf spots where you don’t have to suit up for battle every time you want to catch a wave – for example, check out Rapture Surf Camps in Bali
Speaking of preparation, there are incredible breath-holding courses available that will boost your confidence and your performance in the water.
1. Tamarin Bay Localism, Mauritius Surf Rage
If you want to surf in Mauritius, you may want to think twice. Unfortunately, I speak about Tamarin Bay surf localism from first-hand experience. I had the misfortune of running into some nasty locals at Tamarin Bay on one of our trips to Mauritius.
We share tips on how to enjoy Mauritius outside of the resort.
This place was the once-epic wave that was immortalized in the film The Lost Island Of Santosha. Sadly, the reality these days is that the once-epic and regular left-hand point break has changed drastically since its heyday. The wave now breaks very infrequently which probably further fuels the anger of the locals that go by the name of the ‘White Shorts’. Mauritius surf localism is led by these guys.
The funny thing is that a lot of these angry Tamarin Bay surf locals are French nationals or ex-pats. So, essentially, it’s not their home turf either. There is one moody surfer in particular by the name of Bruno. Check out the video below for a taste of the greeting you’ll get when attempting a Tamarin Bay surfing session.
Tamarin Bay locals don’t care about your age or where you come from. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, these guys are slapping 13-year-olds and parents alike. Check out this story of a poor father and son combo who received a beat down when they didn’t follow the rules set by the Mauritius White Shorts.
If you do decide to risk a Tamarin Bay surf session, then you’ll probably be told to remove yourself from the point completely – or face physical consequences. My only opportunity for a wave was cut short by some prawn dropping in on me – after waiting for 45 minutes without any action.
This video is a perfect example of Tamarin Bay surf rage caught on camera. Be advised that language is explicit. Thanks to Bruno, Tamarin Bay is largely out of bounds.
2. Hawaii Localism – Say Aloha to This Knuckle-Sandwich
I once heard a story of a Brazilian surfing team who went to Hawaii for a surf contest and made the fatal error of chasing a Hawaiian local out of the water. The local gent gathered a few of his mates and ambushed the Brazilians after their surf on the way home. They beat the living hell out of them – breaking one of the Brazilians legs to boot.
I’m not sure how much of this story is true, and how much of it is a legend. But I hear Hawaiian locals are tough as nails. With this in mind, Hawaii surf localism has made our list of aggressive surf spots.
There are even videos online that show what happens when you paddle out at a Hawaii surf contest that you are not taking part in. Unsurprisingly, some of these videos are removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.
3. California, USA – Locals-Only Surf Spot, Bruh!
I think it would be unfair to label the entirety of America as a hostile surf nation. So, I narrowed it down to Cali.
There are countless stories about the Luanda Bay locals who terrorize anyone who steps foot onto their turf. There are stories of people being threatened, assaulted, used as target practice with rocks, and even having their tires slashed.
The long-haired surfer is a common stereotype for living the Irie, shreddable lifestyle. But it may not be the best idea if you’re an angry, brawl-prone kinda guy. Watch this video of surfers fighting to see how one guy’s long hair becomes his downfall.
It would seem that however crude and barbaric their methods, these locals are achieving their goal by making any surf session in Luanda Bay downright rubbish.
4. New Zealand – “F*$&en skits mate!”
I always thought that the New Zealanders were much like the Canadians in the manners department. Oh boy, was I wrong! The locals in this story took things to the next level by firing gunshots at surfers that paddled out to their local spot.
The incident occurred in the Waikato’s Taharoa area. The surfers initially thought that the shots were from hunters somewhere else. However, when a bullet hit the water a few meters from where they were floating they decided that it was best to paddle in.
Final Thoughts on Surfing Localism
While most surfers fit the stereotype of mellow, relaxed sun-kissed folk out of the water, it can be a whole new ball game in the open water. Especially when the waves are amazing and/or scarce.
As a general rule, it is always smart to enter foreign surf territory with respect. Wait your turn for a wave and respect the locals. And if you ever see me in the waves just remember, if you drop in on me, I’ll drop you, China!
Let us know in the comments below any surf locations that are particularly hostile. We hear that Brazilians have a bad reputation but I surfed there for two months with no issues.
Read our Brazilian surf guide here.
Until next time, be lekker!
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The ACTUAL locals of Mauritius were very kind when I went. They let me surf and on my way in they asked me if I had a good session and what I thought of their spot. This is a stark contrast to what you get if any foreign expats are in the water. They are overprotective of a spot that THEY are invading themselves.
I’ve also heard that it is mainly the French expats and I’ve experienced it first hand. Bunch of muppets if you ask me.
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