Localism In Surfing & How To Play.


Localism in surfing is an inevitability whichever way you look at it. For the most part human nature is tribal and surfing abilities differ. All around the world there are certain surf spots and breaks that will always have rules attached to them. Rules that are not necessarily put up on a massive neon sign or printed on a laminated leaflet (wouldn’t that be a lovely touch?). Rules that only apply to outsiders to the regular line up.

We have all heard stories about the differing levels of severity when these rules have been broken or lines crossed. 

But is it all a bit twatty? Or wholly necessary? 

We spoke to a load of people (4, it was 4, we asked a load more who said they would love to contribute, but you know…shit at being patient) and asked them for stories or experiences:


Kim once ‘borrowed’ a wheelbarrow to get home whilst drunk. Those who witnessed it saw her pop up and ride for a whole 2.5 seconds. When not drunk Kim is a well travelled and incredible surfer. When at home Kim tears it up at a *shall remain nameless* spot in west Wales. If the conditions are right there is a break that is ‘monumental’. Kim has been surfing this break for over one thousand years and keeps an eye on the forecast for the right conditions, which will occur a handful of times a year. 

One time Kim did something that’s funny but she’s not proud of:

‘September I think, about 3 or 4 years ago. A pair of idiots that I hadn’t seen out there before. They were missing everything and so I gave them as much distance as I could, they didn’t really look like they belonged. As I am starting to paddle into the spot one of these guys saw me and started to paddle for a wave I was going to skip. He got lifted and dumped and completely lost control of his board which shot off in my direction. I had nowhere to go so my board took the hit and a nasty ding to the front. I went fucking mental! It was going to need a full repair on the nose which would take me a day and it’s one of my favourite boards. 

The guy comes to grab his board and I show him the ding and call him some names that I don’t want my kids to ever know about, and he says something like ‘If you’re not a local, you shouldn’t be here, it’s dangerous’. Knowing he wasn’t going sort out the damage I laugh and said I have never seen him before in my life, and I know pretty much everyone who surfs there. He reeled off a few names of people that do surf at this spot, I asked for his name…he didn’t give it. He paddled away after flicking me the v’s and I saw him talking to his mate, no doubt planning on being a further dickhead. 

I was fuming. I caught one and paddled in knowing that the damaged nose was probably taking water. I got to my car and saw theirs next to it, it could only have been theirs as they were the only others in, and you can only really drive to this place. Their car was nicer than mine. Trying to calm down I did a quick nature wee behind my car and saw that at the back of theirs they had one of those key holder padlocks, with the number combination on. I’ll be honest, I thought about weeing on it, but instead I thought I’d have a go at cracking the combination as I used to have the same lock. Starting with 1-1-1-1 and the lock only goes and opens. So I absolutely change the combination and close it up. Nice, safe, entombed keys. And this place is a bit of a pain to get to, so if they couldn’t get into the lock they had a long walk ahead of them. I’m not proud, but I was so angry! I went again 3 days later and their car had gone, so that was good. But still, hopefully the rest of the day was ruined for the turd. And sorry to his pal but, you know, casualties of war and all that…’


Aym of King Of Kooks Surf Media is an absolute legend and one of the nicest human beings in the world. He’s also an incredibly experienced and well travelled surfer and advanced instructor. He was at his local semi-secret spot, riding a wave which he surfed less (there’s a few breaks there). So he did all the respectful things he should, not paddling for a couple of sets, let everybody take the best waves and just being ‘smiley’ and courteous. Nice guy right? 

‘A guy comes up and says ‘didn’t you see there is a right and a left down there? You should go there straight away’. You know setting that tone right away. He followed up with saying he surfed there all his life and ‘it’s my wave’. So I said I appreciated that, but I am not getting in the way, I am not taking any set waves. 

I paddled for one and went wide as I saw him paddling for it too. He missed the drop and wipes out in front of me, and when he came back in he started shouting at me saying I ‘was in the way’. I was metres away from him. He was getting really angry and completely put off his surf. I decided to ignore him and keep on surfing the same way, respectfully and on the inside and not getting any set waves. 

The next set comes in, he takes off on the bomb, makes the drop. Against all surfing sense, instead of doing a bottom turn and following the shoulder he actually aimed straight toward me. I ditched my board, a metre away from me he does a sharp turn. It was so dangerous and really nasty. He just paddled back out. 

I was rattled, I let it slide and got out of the water and got talking to the other guy that was in there. He said the guy ‘is who he is’ and gets so agitated when there’s people in the water he doesn’t know’. 

Aym being Aym got talking to this guy and now they surf together fairly regularly. On one occasion the same angry guy was in the water but this time he appeared to be having a good session ‘smiling after a wave’. Aym took this opportunity to talk to him. 

I said, I don’t know if you remember me but last time I was surfing on the inside and what you did was plain dangerous. I told him I appreciated he had been surfing there for a long time and that there were rules. And actually just having that approach, he said he didn’t feel that he dealt with the situation correctly’.

This wave is less crowded than others so is it a necessary evil to keep people away from a semi-secret spot? 

‘It’s a weird one, I see things at my local break that would set fire to line ups in other countries and not having those people who police it is detrimental to some extent. I am not saying the way the person handled me was a good one, but I kind of reap the benefit of that guy being out there because now he accepts me at the lineup, and if he acts like that with other people that means that wave is less crowded’.       


Surfing legend, Paul ‘Barracat’ Barrington of Blindate fame and top Youtube channel The Surfing Show (subscribe now, it’s good and very funny) may or may not have sent this to us when we may have asked for his view: 

‘There may have been an incident a while ago in a local surf competition where a surfer (maybe me, maybe a friend) went absolutely boil in the bag mental at some out of towner kook who we had asked to move out of the contest area. He refused stating we ‘don’t own the beach’. As you can imagine. Firstly he was fucking wrong. We do own the beach. So I, (might not be me) burned the fuck out of him on the next wave. 

He fell off and kicked his board at me (might not have been me)

It hit me hard in the face (someone).

I then proceeded to grapple him on the surf, remove his legrope, people elbow drop his surfboard and then send his board to the beach without him whilst screaming he was dead. 

He then came to the contest site to complain after. Hilarity ensued. He surfs Croyde after that.’

*Disclaimer: The Surfing Show does not tolerate localism in any way and this story is probably just a work of fiction for effect.


Our resident AS fitness go to legend and Polzeath’s AS Squadron Leader Matt Sutherland has even experienced it at a fairly notorious Cornish spot. 

Some people are nuts! I mean you wouldn’t pick a fight with Chuck Norris? As nice as Matt is, he could bench press you whilst tearing it up on a shoulder high…

‘Localism is fairly rare in these parts nowadays (it wasn’t about 20 years ago), venture further south and a certain sheltered bay near Perranporth is almost proud of it’s localism. 

So I was surfing there once in fairly nice conditions; I lived near Truro so was fairly local to the area. One very lairy kid decided to drop in on me. Being poor at judging age, this tall kid looked about 17. A drop in can be accidental but by the third time, it clearly wasn’t. 

So I had words and got a vile torrent of abuse. While not physically worried, it was still a shame to have a session spoiled so I left the water and mentioned it to a mate from my patch who had bought the cafe there some years before. 

He immediately identified him as a very mouthy local kid but one who usually got free drinks and maybe the odd ice cream. You can imagine the rest – as he strolled up full of himself, he was refused even being served at all and was given the full shaming treatment. So localism works both ways – if you insist on being a Neanderthal goon, it might bite you back.’

So how to play localism in surfing? Well, it’s up to you. There are many different roles. 

You could be the super aggressively protective wave troll. Although, this may get you into a few conflicts and repercussions. You can play as the wise whitewater wizard who knows the rules and every now and then guides newcomers when there has been an infringement. Perhaps the explorer elf who wants to see all the surf, but we would wholly recommend summoning the Aym of King Of Kooks persona for this one. 

Our little penny’s worth; Accidents happen, feathers rustle and mistakes will continue to be made. Surfing is still a growing sport and does so many different things for many different people. It’s multi-disciplined like that yeah? Respect is the most important thing. 

If you are a newcomer to any break, do a bit of research first, reach out to any online surfing community and ask questions (but mostly AgeingSurfer as we have got a laboratory and everything, it’s like our niche or USP or some shit like that). 

If you see someone on your break who you feel is thoroughly taking the piss, why not have a chat before you get too stressed by it. If you can’t resolve through talking then we would recommend either a horseback jousting tournament or pistols at dawn (only playing, never shoot someone and never take a jousting lance and horse into deep sea. They are a bugger to paddle with…)



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