How to spot a kook in surfing

Kooks: they try - and fail - to mimic the surfing lifestyle | Photo: Shutterstock

What is a kook? What should you do to avoid being called a kook? Here's a to-don't list for those who want to look cool.

Surf culture can be merciless. And someone who pretends to be a surfer will certainly be called a kook.

Surf kooks are everywhere - carrying surfboards inside the mall, exercising muscles on the boardwalk, and driving the highway with the board through the side of a car.

However, kookiness has nothing to do with learning how to surf. A novice surfer doesn't necessarily need to live through the kook phase.

You're "allowed" to make mistakes and wipe out. That's life; no worries.

But if a weekend warrior who knows how to ride a wave paddles out wearing a Fedora hat, he will be named kook of the day.

If a pro surfer claims a last-minute wave when he needs a score from the judging panel, he will be called a kook.

So, what is a kook? A kook is a pre-beginner surfer, an aspiring wave rider, a nerd, or someone who tries - and fails - to mimic the surfing lifestyle. Kooks are careless, odd, exotic, and ridiculous.

They disrespect the nobility of surfing.

Elvis Presley: a kook moment for 'Blue Hawaii'

Kook Spotting

You can usually spot a surf poser by the clothes and apparel he/she wears, the bold behavior on the beach, and rude attitude towards other fellow surfers, or the way a wannabe surfer enters the water.

Learn how not to be a kook in surfing.

Take a look at the most comprehensive list of kook actions and behaviors, and make sure you avoid them at all costs:

Paddling with the nose of the board pointing to the sky;

Displaying multiple surf stickers on the surfboard;

Dropping in on someone with a smile;

Using booties during summer;

Forgetting to wax the surfboard;

Riding a wave until fins are buried in the sand;

Performing strange and innovative pre-surf warm-up exercises;

Carrying a shortboard on the head;

Asking someone to take your photo with a flat ocean in the back;

Wearing helmets on a one-foot summer day;

Wearing boardshorts under and over a wetsuit;

Rehearsing pro surfing maneuvers on the beach;

Adopting an extremely low stance in the whitewater;

Showcasing original traction pad placements;

Wearing a life jacket;

Paddling for a closeout wave;

Pearling the surfboard in one-foot surf;

Waxing up the nose of the board;

Wearing goggles;

Forgetting fins;

Paddling with chin touching the board;

Not using a leash in a crowded lineup;

Ditching the surfboard;

Ignoring channels and charging through breaking whitewater;

Letting go of the board in front of whitewater;

Wearing a leash all the way back to the car park;

Attempting to throw an aerial in the whitewash;

Pumping energetically for speed on the flats;

Paddling with both arms simultaneously;

Calling fins "skegs";

Nosediving and letting the board hit someone;

Catching whitewater rollers;

Kooks: measuring a wave using a surfboard can be considered kook behavior | Photo: Shutterstock

If you don't want to be called kook, take a look at the basic rules of surf etiquette, and read our basic tips for beginner surfers.

And if you're really committed to not being a classic surfer dude, then get "The Kook's Guide to Surfing," a delicious instruction manual for surfers and non-surfers alike, and watch the timeless short surf film "Kook Paradise."

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2023 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers