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Around The Surfing World

Kook Sued For Breach Of Surfing Etiquette

The Courts Have Weighed In. No Kooks.
The Courts Have Weighed In. No Kooks.

Kooks beware.

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, 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.”

For more: Commentary And Source

CanLII Official Small Claims Court Writeup

Hayley Gordon

Hayley Gordon has been surfing for over 20 years. Riding both shortboards and longboards, she's traveled the world to surf but mainly sticks to her two home locations of San Diego and Long Island.

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[…] After all, if things keep escalating, surfing will be as heavily litigated as anything else. Joykill. […]

matthew scott
matthew scott
14 years ago

this is great.with the water getting more crowded every day with kooks,people need to know the rules in the water .i cant tell u how many times a good wave was ruined because all someone had to do was stop paddling and let me go by,but no……….

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