Ahhh, localism. A favorite past time for surfers who live within the defined jurisdiction of said localized surf spot. You can liken it to a dog pissing to mark his or her territory. However, at some point in life, you often start to realize the absurdity of it all, but there is a certain animalistic second nature that thrives and comes alive when some kook you have never seen before burns you at the wave you call your own.
There have only been a few times in my life where I have been subjected to localism. Once, it was in the water, I was young (15 or 16?) and almost got punched in the face for spraying a local but somehow managed to dodge the situation. The second time, at the same surf spot, after a long morning session with a friend, returned back to my car to find a nice little new addition to my drivers side door; a 18 inch long key scratch. Ahh touche… You got me…
There are certain surf spots that still rely on acts of localism to hopefully cure the problem of overcrowding, kook prevention, and exposure (photos and videos that could be put online or in surf publications). When you visit these spots, you enter with caution, and the understanding that, yes YOU, can be subject to some standard localism techniques. Waxing your windows, keying your car, leaners (letting the air out of the tires on one side of your car), yelling at in water, cold shoulders, getting snaked, paddled around, and even in some occasions if you are being completely out of line, some old fashion physical violence.
While I dont necessarily agree with any of the above mentioned techniques, they undeniably work. As the years go by and surfing becomes ever more popular with the influence of complete cornball kooks like Matthew Mcconaughey starring in hollywood “surf films”, the core essence of localism has gone by the wayside at many of these “localized” spots. You start to see behavior in the water that was previously completely unacceptable, going by without a comment from anyone. However, when you look at some of the spots that hold onto localism, there is still a strong sense of not only etiquette in the lineup, but more importantly, a sense of community. The people who live in a certain area will take better care for that said area than a visitor, since they are there more often.
That being said, localism, being as shallow minded as you may perceive it, works. Its not just about surfing where you live or my beach my waves, but its more about respecting the people at a line-up that have taken care of and preserved the integrity of that surf spot for years before.