Skip to main content

How Not to Be a Kook

A "kook" is a surfer who puts themselves and others in danger by their actions in the water. Learn the rules of the ocean, and avoid being called this dreaded four-letter word.


  • Step 1: Wear a leash Always wear a leash when you're surfing around other people, so you're attached to your board at all times. Losing your board when you wipe out can put everyone around you in danger.
  • Step 2: Paddle out Don't paddle straight into a pack of surfers. Try to find a channel that will let you make it to the lineup without getting in anyone else's way.
  • TIP: Instead of charging through breaking white water, wait for a lull in between sets of waves; then make your way to the lineup of surfers.
  • Step 3: Look both ways When paddling to catch a wave, look both ways – like you're crossing the street – to make sure someone isn't already up and riding.
  • Step 4: Don't drop in If someone is already up and riding on a wave, hang back. The person riding closest to the tallest part of the wave has priority, and "dropping in" on that person is dangerous – and the easiest way to be labeled a kook.
  • Step 5: Don't let go of your board When paddling out, don't rely solely on your leash to stay connected to your board. When you let go of your board with your hands to swim under white water, it becomes a hazard to other surfers behind you.
  • TIP: Learn how to "duck dive," or duck under breaking waves with your board.
  • Step 6: Protect your head If you wipe out, don't panic or thrash in the water. Protect your head by covering your face with your arms, and cupping your head with your hands. Stay underwater for a few seconds until you regain your balance, and don't uncover your head until you're standing up.
  • Step 7: Respect the locals Give respect to gain respect. Every beach has locals who have been surfing there a lot longer than you have. Letting them have their pick of waves will ensure that you don't get in their way – and you don't make any enemies.
  • FACT: In 2009, a Brazilian surfer broke his own world record for the longest wave ever surfed by riding a tidal bore on the Araguari River for 36 minutes over seven and a third miles.

You Will Need

  • A surfboard
  • A leash
  • Common sense

Popular Categories