Sailing safely in waves requires adherence to a certain set of immutable rules. The wave riding rules
are aimed at making wave riding safer and more enjoyable for all. They are largely taken from
surfing rules, with some additions, applicable only to sailboards.
- Don't sail in conditions way out of your experience. Wave sailing requires a good water start
(fast and efficient), preferably a reliable gybe (or tack), and probably the ability to jump.
Don't sail conditions that are way out of your capabilities, you will just break gear and ruin the
waves for everybody else (especially in crowded breaks).
The sailor who is heading out has right of way of the sailor that is coming in on the wave.
The sailor riding the wave has speed and manoeuverability, and must give way to those sailing out.
The sailor riding the wave closest to the breaking part of the wave has right of way over
all other wave riders. Usually this is the sailor most upwind. You can ride a wave with a
sailor closer to the breaking part of the wave than yourself, but don't crowd the sailor,
and watch closely and be prepared to get out of the way.
Don't drop in. This is a very bad practice, completely abhorred in surfing and windsurfing
circles, and is very dangerous. Dropping in is the act of climbing on a wave that someone else
is already riding.
Dropping in is often achieved by sailing over the back of a wave that someone else is already riding.
Doing this can lead to landing on top of the person riding the wave, and is thus dangerous.
The first person on a wave, owns the wave.
Don't ride shore-wards on the back of a wave. This practice is dangerous. In such a position
you cannot see the sailors that are in the water until the last moment, and it is easy to hit
them as the appear through the back of the wave.
These rules are universally accepted around the world. If you abide by them, you will have little
trouble with other sailors in the waves. If you don't, you will have some very angry sailors
confronting you on the beach.
There is contention between kitesurfers and windsurfers, especially in the surf. Kites are dangerous when on the water (i.e. crashed).
Generally I try and keep down wind of the sailboarders, in case I make a mistake.
Also I will give the sailboarder the upwind course (i.e. go down wind a little to allow them to go upwind). The reason for this
is that generally kites go upwind much more easily than sailboards.