REGARDING THE RIGHT OF WAY (ROW) IN SURF:
I expect to get incinerated by wave riders for this post but since controversy creates readership, at least Toby should appreciate it.
Based upon the "less maneuverable = ROW" basic rule, wave riders should NOT have the right of way (ROW) over people going out.
First it should be noted that the "less maneuverable = ROW" basic rule is based more upon safety considerations rather than courtesy or convenience and safety oriented rules should always have preference over any others.
Someone going out is assumed to be "less maneuverable" because:
1. He may not be able to turn around because of the proximity of the shore or shallow water.
2. At many locations, debris such as seaweed etc. accumulates near the shore and is comparatively hazardous.
3. At many locations, the wind near the shore is less reliable and more problematic compared to further out.
4. There may be other kiters nearby on shore with their kites in the air and these represent potential hazards.
5. There may be members of the public nearby on shore and these represent potential hazards.
6. There may be swimmers, surfers and/or bathers in the water and these will tend to be closer to shore and also represent potential hazards.
7. In general, the closer you are to shore, the less safe you are.
8. Going out through white water and waves is more difficult than riding while out past the surf line.
9. If the person has just launched (as opposed to someone who has kited in and then turned around), his feet may not be well set in his footstraps thereby impairing his balance and necessitating extra effort.
10. If the person has just launched, he may have misjudged conditions (wind, currents etc) and therefore have some unexpected problems. At the very least, he probably doesn't have as good a grasp of conditions as someone who has been out for a while.
Admittedly, it is possible to be locked into a wave and then be relatively less maneuverable.
However, I think most waveriders will admit (if only to themselves) that instances where they truly CANNOT exit a wave reasonably safely are rarely very long.
By giving waveriders the excuse to have the ROW because they're "locked into" a wave, they'll ALWAYS be "locked in".
However, the bottom line is that if their being on the wave is going to interfere with someone going out, THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE TAKEN IT in the first place!
If they're paying attention, someone coming in has a reasonably good view from far away of kiters entering the water and/or going out. They have ample opportunity to turn around and wait until outgoing kiters won't be in their way.
[Is that gnashing teeth I hear?]
The below is an edited post from Peter Frank at
which succinctly states what would take me an hour to put down.
The rider going out has ROW (Right Of Way - as in the rules used the last 25 years) no doubt at all.
The rider on the wave usually has much more ability to give way - and regarding getting teabagged if escaping the wave to give way to a poor soul trapped on his/her way out, it should only be a problem if unhooked - and again - those unhooked would have sufficient level to hook in fast, thus have way more options.
[Port, starboard comments omitted]
If catching the wave simultaniously, the rider nearest the breaking part has ROW.
If no clear peak (most often the issue here...), then the upwind rider has ROW (bear in mind, this is unlike normal sailing rules).
Then there is the most important "gentleman rule", which is used in most situations:
One going out should always avoid and give room to the surfer on the wave, whenever possible, and generally try to stay clear of the best waveride zone
So here Kevin is right, except for the fact that it can never be a rule, only what is preferred and polite.
And again - although the word "rules" is used, it is "guidelines" in order to avoid collisions and to give the best possibilities for the rider on the wave - meaning you are an idiot if you hold on your "right" even though you can see someone else can not bear away or has no knowledge of the guidelines.
Jumping on the wave when going out should generally be avoided totally if there are many riders out, as you can not see a windsurfer or surfrider in the water behind the wave.
Surfers has ROW over both kite and windsurfers of course.
But local "different" rules are used in many line-up spots over the world, I know.
So always ask if you travel to another country/spot .
#1: USE COMMON SENSE !
1. A rider coming in should give way to a rider going out.
2. A rider going out should, whenever possible, give room to a rider on a wave.
3. The rider catching the wave first has the wave.
4. If catching simultaniously, the rider nearest the breaking part, or the rider upwind if no clear breaking part, has the wave.
Kindly, Peter Frank"
REGARDING USING "PORT / STARBOARD" TERMINOLOGY:
I think the entire application of "port" and "starboard" terminology as applied to kitesurfing right of way rules is needlessly confusing and almost completely unnecessary.
99% of kitesurfing right of way rules which use the terms "port" and "starboard" could be simplified and often made more logical by instead using "going out" (from shore) or "coming in" (towards shore). Maybe shortened to "outgoing" and "incoming".
About the only situation I can think of where "outgoing/incoming" wouldn't work is where 2 kitesurfers were on a collision course and traveling parallel to the beach. At all the locations I know of, this is very unusual.
I believe that "port" and "starboard" terminology as applied to right of way rules originated with boats and of course had to deal with situations where there was no shore and where travel parallel to shore was common.
For example, what happens if:
1. The guy "coming in" is on a starboard (right hand forward) tack when a rider who just launched is going out?
2. In the above example, isn't it likely that "the rider who just launched" is also less maneuverable? After all, he may not be able to turn around due to the shore, his feet may not be well situated in his footstraps, he may not be able to turn around ,he may have surf and whitewater to deal with etc.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell who is on a starboard tack. For example:
3. If someone is going TOESIDE on a twintip, couldn't they have their right hand/arm forward while a heelside rider (coming towards Mr. Toeside) would also have his right hand/arm forward?
In this case, it isn't easily apparent who has the right of way. On the other hand, if the rule was that the person heading out had the right of way, everything would ALWAYS be INSTANTLY apparent from a long way off and there is much less opportunity for confusion or debate.
Additionally, people unfamiliar with, or unsure of, the meaning of "starboard tack" etc. would not be confused.
Regarding right of way rules, simpler and easier should be better.
Malibu Kitesurfing - since 2002
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