The Tragedy of the Waves
The purpose of this paper is to determine the relationship between the number of waves a surfer will catch, the surfer’s characteristics, and the surf conditions; and utilize this relationship to explain wave allocation strategies chosen by surfers. Design/methodology/approach – The study employed a discrete event simulation to model surfers at a well-known surf break in Southern California. Several experimental designs were implemented in the simulation to measure the effect of a surfer’s characteristics and surf conditions on waves caught; and compare different wave allocation strategies. Findings – The number of waves that a surfer will catch is largely dependent upon the surfer’s skill level and the wave allocation strategy used at the surf break. Common wave allocation strategies fail with large crowds. Originality/value – This study is the first to model the entire lineup at a surf break, providing quantitative insights into why surfers choose different wave allocation strategies.