Avoid Being A Kook

Kook, noun. Pronunciation: kük

A slightly sensitive subject , but one that needs to be understood. A kook is defined in Wikipedia as follows :Kook (surfer), a term for a wanna-be surfer of limited skill (Wikipedia definition) . 

In reality it goes a bit deeper than this. A kook is someone whos learning but has no respect for others and is totally clueless of every aspect of surfing. This lack of knowledge and respect can lead to aggravated vibes in the water and endanger others.

avoid being a kook

Persistence is the enemy of kookiness: it’s the reason that every good surfer became good, and it’s what ultimately separates kooks from real surfers.

Heres 10 commandments to avoid being a kook

  • Surf as much as you possibly can :

This is a make or break deal. Obviously a lot of beginners/improvers have jobs and lives that dont permit hanging around the beach and surfing all day. Surfing as much as you can will improve your surf life in every way. You will become fitter. You will understand yourself and your capabilities more. You will understand others around you. You will begin to integrate into the surf culture.

Its a steep learning curve at the start so the best thing is to do it and dont talk about it. Too many people buy amazingly expensive boards and suits, hang them on the wall for 50 weeks a year and talk about it a lot. The problem is that some of those people will go on a surf trip and sit in the car-park talking about it, then go home with great surf stories. In surf culture this is a massive NO NO. Just get in the water and surf !

  • Dont let the board go when a wave comes at you :

This really is one of the basic rules of the road. Getting a massive piece of fiberglass and foam out behind the lineup can be hard at first. Be aware of this. Theres are not many things more dangerous and disrespectful in the surf world. Assess the condition’s and your capabilities first, then go. If you let your board go and it hits the wrong local , things can get heated. You will be known as kook on this beach if you do.

  • Dropping in :

The surfer already surfing a wave—or the one paddling in closest to the peak of the wave—gets priority ….. this is non-negotiable. Understand the dropping in thing well. Its the best way to piss people off. Its shows a complete disregard for others. Dropping in happens on 2 levels, bu mistake or on purpose. If its a mistake smile, apologize and dont do it again. If its on purpose there will be problems. Most beach brawls are due to the latter.

  • Understand and honor the line-up :

This is the point where the waves are breaking , its also call “out back”. in the early days the line up needs to be understood and respected. The surfers sitting right on the peak and seem to get every wave have put in many thousands of hours to get there, respect that. Its not a good look to paddle for every wave that comes along. Be patient, watch the pack and wait your turn. This is the best way to earn respect and ultimately earn your position in the line up.

Wise words from Laird Hamilton 5 legendary big wave surfer) on this : “in general, there’s a mandatory pecking order that’s established. Without that organization, there’s a tendency for chaos and recklessness . . . just like you have highway patrols on freeways, you’ve got to have some organization in the lineup.”

  • Look good and feel good :

If you go down to surf with a neon yellow wetsuit you are going to be watched. Nice equipment is great , but keep it real. The guys in the mags that have loud wetties and boards are rippers. This is the same reason they have the spot in the line-up, they rip! If your not too confident yet , try not to go dressed like a pro. You will look like a clown and be labelled a kook in 5 mins.

  • Own your mistakes and know your limits :

Really important. When the surf is pumping know your limits, assess the surf, and if its too big  dont go. Being keen is great, but being out of your depth is not. You endanger others and yourself. When your are improving , push your limits slowly. We all make mistakes. When you do own it straight away. The pack of surfers are hyper aware of mistakes. Some people are more tolerant than others, but being polite goes a long way. As mentioned earlier , if you accidentally drop in or run into someone, smile apologise and and move on, if you dont your a kook.

  • Stay alert

Surfing is a dangerous sport. Be aware of who is around you, its important. You need to be aware firstly of your own self and where you are going. But you also need to keep an eye on whos who and whats what. If you see someone bailing every time , avoid them. If someone is flying along the wave towards you and you feel in danger, trust you gut. Some of the worse accidents are kooks running over people when out of control. Avoid being a kook and be aware.

  • Dont hesitate

If your going for a wave, commit. Try not to pull back at the last minute, it happens , but try and avoid it. if you are paddling for a wave you are also signalling everyone around you that its your wave. Pulling back because you not committed is a massive mistake. Firstly you will, more than likely, get nailed. Secndly you screw it up for others that are committed. This is annoying and is a kook move.

  • Respect

Give respect and be respected, golden rule # 1. Surfing for better or worse is a territorial sport. Locals have grown up surfing the beach you are about to surf. They know everyone. A visitor is spotted immediately. Some beaches are heavily localized , meaning you cannot surf there. Avoid these beaches by doing you spot research. Most beaches are cool to surf , but respecting the surfers around you goes a long long way. Dont paddle straight into the middle of the lineup and hassle for waves, thats a kook move. Take time , smile plenty and when you get the chance , surf. This will be noted straight away and you will have just earned respect. Do the opposite and you will be labelled a kook and possible be in danger form aggressive locals.

  • Have a heap of fun

Thats why you are there. Do plenty of research on land if you want to improve. Accept that as humans we make mistakes. Smile a lot. Going to the beach is what it is, FUN. Make sure that you leave the beach stoked with a smile. Its a total kook move to leave the beach pissed off because you , havent achieved the goal for the day or any other reason. Surfing is just for fun , if you dont have it you poluting the water and being a kook.