Why Do Surfers Get So Angry?

why do surfers get so angry

Surfers can get angry for lots of reasons, some of the most common are not catching any waves, localism and other surfers acting dangerously. Normally angry surfers are just angry people, thankfully they’re few and far between.

Everyone likes to think that surfing’s all smiles, shakkas and good vibes but if you’ve paddled out at a busy surf spot when there aren’t enough waves to go around you’ll know that this is a long stretch from the truth.

When it comes to waves people can see red, not unlike road rage, surf rage is a real thing and it can lead to violence towards people and property.

But where did this phenomenon start, has it always been like this and most importantly, why do surfers get so angry? Dive in and all will be revealed in our look into surf aggression and what causes it.

why do surfers get so angry

So why do surfers get so angry?

What does it take for a fully grown man to chase another human being up and down a beach screaming all sorts of words I can’t repeat? The honest answer is not that much, when you’re dealing with a limited resource (surfable waves) and a dangerous environment (the ocean), it’s easy for the smallest thing to get blown way out of proportion.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of abuse from a fellow surfer you probably didn’t even know you’d done anything wrong. Some of the time it might just be a mistake, others it’s someone having the mother of all bad days, either way, you just can’t predict when another surfer might get angry.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to break down all of the things that can make a surfer angry and what you can do to avoid being on the receiving end.

Lack of waves

Nothing will make a surfer angrier than sitting out the back as set wave after set wave gets snagged by other waiting surfers.

Sometimes it can happen when you paddle out at an overly competitive lineup or when a long period ground swell only sends set waves every 15 minutes.

Whatever the reason, if you happen to be the surfer that breaks the camel’s back you could be set for a few angry words. Try to be aware of other surfers in the lineup and if you see someone who’s struggling to get a wave be an absolute legend and wave them into your next one, it could make their day.

Sense of entitlement

Localism is a real thing, a small contingent of surfers feel a sense of ownership and entitlement over certain surf spots based on how close they live to them. It isn’t reserved for any particular country and you can encounter it at beach breaks, reefs and point breaks all over the world.

Typically this will take the form of anger towards visiting surfers, particularly those who aren’t as skilled at surfing. In extreme cases, surfers have been known to damage surfboards, cars and even attack visiting surfers for trying to surf a particular wave.

Drop into our discussion on localism and the dark side of surfing to find out why surfers get so protective over their home breaks.

You’re being a danger to other surfers

If you’re creating dangerous situations in the surf because of your actions you will very quickly be told to stop by other surfers in the lineup. If you continue you may even be asked to leave the water.

Always respect other surfers in the lineup and if you are consistently being a danger to other surfers you need to rethink how you’re acting when you paddle out to the waves.

Toxic masculinity

I hate mentioning this one but after surfing for 30 years I can sadly confirm it’s an issue at some surf spots across the world. Rearing its ugly head in the form of sexism, racism and even ageism.

Surfing is a male-dominated sport, it’s slowly changing but we’re still a way off from seeing a large change in the demographic in the lineup.


If you’ve had a bad experience in the water or have been on the receiving end of surf rage then hopefully we’ve identified what the issue is.

Why do surfers get so angry, well it’s mainly down to silly reasons that would be irrelevant to any normal land dweller, even so, it’s always good to know which signs to look out for so you can give them a wide berth.