How does wave priority work in surfing?

This means that the surfer closest to the top (the first to break a wave) has the right of way, since he is the one who will enjoy surfing the shoulder of the wave during the longest trip. To surf, a wave must break at a specific point, called a “peak”, and continue to break to the right or to the left. If two surfers paddle to catch the same wave, the surfer closest to the top has priority. The priority is a surfer's right to catch a wave.

When the waves approach, the surfer who is furthest from the line and closest to the breaking point of the wave gains priority. Once the priority surfer catches the wave, the next surfer in the lineup will have priority for the next wave. An additional advantage of having priority is the possibility of riding a wave that another surfer has already chosen to chase and force that surfer to abandon the wave. Although priority surfers are the first to choose, another surfer may try to ride the same wave as long as they don't interfere with the priority surfer's ability to score.

During a qualifying round, between two and four competing surfers try to score as high as possible on two different waves. Although there is no limit to the number of waves that can be scored per surfer, only the two waves with the highest score per series are counted. When paddling in the water, the surfer should try to paddle out of line and out of the waves so as not to disturb other surfers. But wave priorities go beyond a gentleman's rules: priorities prevent crashes, injuries and damage to surfboards.

As I was paddling into the waves, a surfer hit me and then yelled at me for obstructing his wave, but because of the rocks, the paddling area is limited to where I was. You'll understand that surfers should choose their waves wisely because it's not about the quantity of waves they catch, but about the quality. The competitor who interfered is often penalized by obtaining only one score in their best heat wave rather than in their two best waves. This means that, even if after returning from his wave he finds himself inside himself for the next one, if the other competitor decides to go after it, he should not go because the first priority would be that of the other.

One of the most important things when learning to surf is to know and respect priorities, which are the basis of surfing etiquette. Each wave moves to the right or to the left and, as in any civilized street system, there are rules for each player.