Maui Surf

How To Earn a Spot in the Lineup

July 25, 2012, 12:55 PM HST
* Updated July 27, 3:29 PM

By Carlos Rock


In this situation the surfer closest to the peak (far left) has the right of way. Ho’okipa Beach Park. Photo by Carlos Rock.

Any surfer can tell you that the lineup out at any surf break is a very strange dynamic.

Your place within it will determine your overall experience in each and every session, and how quickly your surfing will progress based on the quantity and quality of waves you can catch.

So here are some tips that can help improve your sessions by earning a spot in the lineup on Maui’s waves.

Firstly, DO NOT…


…paddle into the middle of an unfamiliar and crowded lineup and demand respect. Don’t paddle for every single wave that comes your way. That method is guaranteed to earn you a few words to put you in your place, or worse.


We suggest waiting on the shoulder or on the inside where there are still waves coming through, but you are in great position to get out of the way of someone.

OBSERVE what the waves are doing that day. Before every session watch and see what is going on in the water and get an idea of how and when the sets are coming in, and who is out in the water (people to pay attention, too).

TRY very hard to stay out of people’s way and you will find yourself in great positions to get more waves.


If the lineup seems way too crowded, and you are unsure of your abilities to maneuver around people, either wait around for the crowd to die down, or simply surf somewhere else. Chances are, on an island like Maui, there is another break just around the corner or down the road with less people.

It is good for your surfing and inner “soul searcher” to fulfill that sense of exploration by surfing new waves and adjusting to new and unfamiliar environments.

Second, Practice Patience


Ho`okipa. Photo by Carlos Rock.

Surfing has a strange way of rewarding good deeds done in the water. Good behavior results in better sessions. Try and not be too over eager to catch the biggest and best waves because keep in mind, everyone else is trying to do the exact same thing.

There are waves for everyone.

Wait your turn and put yourself in the right place (at the peak of the wave) and your efforts will pay off, and you will get the wave you have been waiting for.

The peak is where you will get your best ride; so managing your session by positioning yourself somewhere near there will result in waves of better quality.

Third, be Confident

One way to ruin your reputation in the water is by pulling back on a good wave or yelling at everyone to get off of a set wave and not trusting your abilities and falling, wasting the wave for the rest of us.

But, we have all been there. It is just a part of the learning process. Have more confidence in your riding and guys will be cheering you into waves instead of dropping in on you.


A surfer finds himself at the right place at the right time at Ho’okipa. Photo by Carlos Rock.

Fourth, Spend Some Time

One way to earn your spot is to become a familiar face. Not just at one spot, but at many spots. Chances are that you will see some of the same people at other spots on the island.

Kindly exchange a few words or a simple nod or shaka with that person and things will get better out in the surf. RESPECT goes a long way.

Once you talk with someone in the water, you can no longer drop in on him or her. It’s just against the rules. Also, NEVER drop in on a girl or a little kid. Just don’t.

Fifth, HAVE FUN.


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