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by Tru Starling

We’re not sure if anyone else has noticed but the crowds since the start of COVID-19 seem to have increased by 100%, which is weird since everyone is meant to be self-isolating? We know that it’s important to get out and keep active but is doing that out of your area just disrespectful to that local community? What do you think?

It’s difficult to explain the word ‘local’ or ‘localism’ because no one really knows what it feels like unless you are one and even then the debate still rages can anyone own an area just because they have been there everyday of their lives?


After contacting surfers from localised areas it has been explained to us in this way.. If you could imagine the surf or the beach being like a lounge room. A place where you feel the most at ease, the most relaxed and more like yourself, where you have painted the walls over time and helped to make it look and feel how it is now.. Well, that’s kind of what the surf feels like for locals at any beach, no matter where you are from. 

We hear stories of lots of beaches getting backlash for being a “localised beach” or having those “gnarly locals” but after asking around it has been explained to us by those we contacted like this, 

The thing that most people don’t understand is that they have been surfing that beach for 30 odd years and it has now become their second home, in a lot of cases they raise funds to help the local boardriders or community, they as a community help raise the local kids and when someone passes away in that community the whole area greaves together, essentially it is a family. 

We get this, this makes sense to us, we definitely wouldn’t go into someone’s home and disrespect them? If we did, we guess we could expect them to ask us to stop and if we didn’t stop, then asking us to leave would probably follow? 


It seems that is a pretty similar feeling to a person surfing a certain beach their whole life and someone coming, dropping in on them or being rude in the line-up, doing this then provokes the feeling of protection. 

To balance out the argument we then spoke with people who aren’t necessarily from one beach, they hop to wherever the surf seems good that day and that makes total sense too. We asked if there had been any times that they had fallen to the hand of localism while surfing these different beaches, some said yes and some said no but had heard stories.


The thing that struck us was any aggression was generally dealt after an incident. “I took off and didn’t see there was a guy on my inside” kind of stuff.

Would they have had an issue at all if they had looked before they lept we wonder? Is localism being mistaken for not playing by the global surfing etiquette rules? We always play by those rules when we surf and especially when we surf somewhere that’s not our home beach and for the record we have never had an issue.

NOT HAPPY. Pic Unknown

Beaches like Narrabeen, Lennox, Marouba and more aren’t just a community, they are a family. They protect their own and aren’t afraid to showcase that. Put it this way, if you were to go and surf Narrabeen for example and were to say, drop in on one of the older locals, you would be dropping in on someone who is actually someone’s (figuratively speaking) brother/sister, or father/mother or a grandfather/grandmother, and trust us, the locals will not hesitate to let you know and put you in your place because, essentially you have disrespected one of their own.

Respect. What even is respect? Google defines respect as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements.” We completely agree with that statement and that same definition applies to beaches all around the world. It would be disrespectful to go and surf a beach you’ve never surfed before and drop in on a local surfer there intentionally wouldn’t it? 

We have been lucky enough to grow up on a beach where we have been taught what respect means in the water. Last year we were surfing Sydney’s Maroubra beach and a local surfer paddled up to us and said “Where are you girls from?” we shyly (and very nervously) replied “North Narrabeen.” and do you know what he said? “Okay, you know then.”

To explain this, the surfer meant, you know the rules, you will act with respect and kinda gave us the nod that we were “given the okay” so to speak. Another great thing from growing up at such a localised break is that we can go anywhere in the world and know pretty quickly who the locals are and who aren’t. That doesn’t mean we will go and drop in on everyone but we are just aware who not to drop in on. 

We know first hand how hard it can be to rock up to a beach expecting to have a fun surf and then not get any waves at all. Trust us, we get our fair share of being dropped in on too (and also a cheeky drop in here and there on each other haha) but it’s important to understand that there is a certain level of respect you will need to have in the lineup at any beach in the world, if you show respect, you will receive it, it’s that simple. 

There is even an unsaid rule amongst the ‘locals’, if the surf is pumping and one of the locals tells you it’s their wave even if you’ve been waiting for that perfect set well it’s theirs. They’ve earned it by winning a couple of world titles, inventing the thruster or just being an amazing contributor to the surf community. You sit back and watch as they tear that wave apart and feel pretty honoured to be able to share the line up with them. And let me tell you when they call you into one of those perfect bombs or push you beyond your comfort zone it makes it all worth the wait.


Moral of this tale? Please be kind to one another in the water, don’t get too greedy for waves and smile a lot because the fact that we can surf at all is amazing… If we all adhere to those three things everything should be okay.

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