A surfer in Nova Scotia, Canada has been awarded a $750 settlement covering a dinged surfboard from a fellow surfer who failed to paddle behind him while he was up and riding the wave.
Basically the rule is that if you’re paddling back out and someone is up and riding a wave, you should paddle behind him towards the whitewater.
Sources say that the plaintiff had good legal representation, although this is not confirmed. However, the fact that this was upheld in court is a bit alarming to say the least. Surf rules aren’t state rules…they are there to guide surfers and keep the water safe and enjoyable for everyone.
The court summary of this case and the determination of the settlement was based on the fact that the defendant was basically…a kook.
“I agree with the Defendant that these rules of etiquette are not binding in law on this Court. A breach of the rules of etiquette is not in and of itself a confirmation that there is negligence. However it can be an indicator that there may have been negligence.
In this particular case, the Defendant and inexperience surfer and who as he indicated may have been encouraged by his friends to increase his level of competency headed out towards larger waves, in this case, 5 to 7 foot breakers. The Defendant attempted to the best of his ability to paddle over the shoulder of the wave. This clearly indicates that he was not planning to ride this particular wave but rather to get out of the way. The Defendant indicated that he was not that intelligent nor did he read surfer magazines or publications on surfing however he did present himself as very knowledgeable on what he should or should not do and he did realize that he did not have that much ability as a surfer. I would have to conclude on the evidence before me that he breached the standard of care required in this situation. If he had done or taken other action this may have been avoided.”
In other words, the defendant is guilty because he isn’t intelligent, doesn’t read Transworld Surf, and he realized he was a kook. Therefore he shouldn’t have been out there.
You simply have to read the entire case summary over at CanLII. As hilarious as this case is, (and perhaps it’s a good way of keeping kooks out of the water) I have to raise a resounding Are you freaking kidding me?
Dan Michaluk, reporting for Slaw.ca, has said it perfectly:
“With all the imprecision associated with a good surf session one might wonder if the voluntary assumption of risk rule (raised unsuccessfully in this case) should prevail. In more animated terms, surfing etiquette is about being conscientious, but shit does happen.”
Slaw.ca Commentary And Source
CanLII Official Small Claims Court Writeup