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Judging Criteria for surfing contests and surfers

British_surfing_schools_and_coachinJudging Criteria




Longboard criteria: “A surfer must perform Radical Controlled Manoeuvres in the Critical Sections of a wave with Speed, Power and Flow to Maximise Scoring Potential. Traditional Surfing as well as a Variety of Modern Manoeuvres will be taken into account when rewarding points for waves ridden. The surfer who executes this criteria with the Maximum Degree of Difficulty and Commitment on the wave shall be rewarded with the higher scores”

based on the criteria above with regard to the manner of bodyboarding (prone, drop-knee or standing).

Scoring categories can be identified by the following table:-
0 – 2 .5 A poor ride
2.5 – 5.0 A fair ride
5.0 – 7.5 A good ride
7.5 – 10 An excellent ride

The Criteria has purposely been broken into three sentences. The first sentence having the most emphasis and is by far the most important part of the criteria. It concerns the manoeuvres, how radical and committed they are and the section of the wave that they are performed on. It is vital that every member of a judging panel adheres to the same point of reference so that each competitor knows how to maximise his/her scoring potential.

1. A surfer must perform radical manoeuvres in the critical sections of a wave with speed, power and flow to maximise scoring potential.

This is by far the most important part of the criteria

We can dissect this part of the criteria further by looking at the key words and explaining exactly what each means. They are:

Radical Manoeuvres
Critical Section
Speed, Power & Flow
Radical Manoeuvres.

Modern day manoeuvres basically constitute a change of direction of the board on the wave (not the surfer on the board). Such manoeuvres include tube rides, re-entries, hacks, snaps, floaters, aerials and cutbacks etc. With how much commitment they are carried out radical they are, how much the surfer pushes the board to the limit will determine how high that they will score, as long as other sections of the criteria are also met.
To score, a manoeuvre must be completed. If a surfer has completed 99% of the manoeuvre then loses control and falls off or is not able to continue riding the wave, then that manoeuvre will not be scored. (The wave score will consist of a combination of all the completed turns before the fall.)
Critical sections

This part of the criteria describes the area of the wave with potential to yield the highs score. The critical section of the wave is the steepest part of the wave next to the curl, also known as ‘the pocket’. The degree of commitment and risk involved in performing close to the curl is the reason why more points are awarded. Generally in beach break conditions the most important critical section is the first section ‘out the back’ and a big turn performed here is difficult and risky. Certain types of wave (and even beach breaks), have critical sections at an inside ‘bowl’ such as Sunset Beach, Bells and St. Leu on Reunion.
Speed, Power and Flow

Generally speaking speed and power become more evident when a manoeuvre is carried out in the critical section and all three are intrinsically linked. The word style has been excluded from the new criteria as it has become apparent that many surfers were misinterpreting it. The judges’ definition of style was defined as how the surfer reads the wave, utilises sections and links his moves in a seamless flow power and speed. On the recommendation of Kelly Slater it was thought the word flow better defines this concept.

2. Innovative and progressive surfing as well as a variety of repertoire (manoeuvres) will be taken into consideration when rewarding points for waves ridden.

This part of the criteria allows the surfers to be more expressive with dynamic and futuristic manoeuvres that are constantly being created by the elite surfers of our sport.
Innovative and Progressive.

This sentence in the criteria reminds the judge to be open minded about new directions and developments in surfing. Progressive surfing is often called ‘new school’ and used to consist of tailslides, aerials and reverses before they became mainstream. The most important thing to remember with a new manoeuvre is that if it encompasses all sections of the criteria i.e. it is committed, has speed and power, and is performed in the critical section of the wave, then it must be high scoring.
Variety of Repertoire

Another new part of the criteria, to differentiate between safe surfing and get the surfers to use the full variety of manoeuvres in their repertoire. A surfer can satify all the other aspects of the criteria but produce the same reliable turn monotonously along a wave, the new criteria means that three different big turns will get the bigger scores than three similar big turns.

3. The surfer who executes these criteria with the maximum degree of difficulty and commitment on the waves shall be rewarded with the highest scores.

The best judges are good surfers who can understand the degree of difficulty of a manoeuvre, obviously the more difficult the manoeuvre the more points (or parts of a point) should be rewarded. Likewise a surfer who commits everything to each turn is risking everything by not completing the turn, (these surfers are pushing themselves to the limit but also the sport), therefore surfers who commit themselves to high risk manoeuvres in the critical sections, with control, should be rewarded.
Remember: Degree of difficulty and risk taken = Reward
NB. Wave size and length of ride

Wave size and length of ride are not apart of the judging criteria. Wave selection is the single most important factor for a surfer in his heat. By getting the best waves he/she has more potential to perform the best turns, this also denies that wave to his opponents. In small to medium size surf there is no emphasis put on wave size as the biggest wave are not necessarily the best. It is the judge’s job to score the surfer and the manoeuvres that he completes and not to score the wave size. The surfer must comply with the first part of the criteria to full capitalise on catching the best waves. (The exception is if the contest is held in ‘big wave’ conditions. The most important part of the criteria would be size, as a surfer prepared to catch the biggest waves shows the greatest commitment.) A surfer must be manoeuvring in the critical section to score points; therefore length of ride is unimportant unless the criteria is being adhered to.
Different Forms of Surfing

With longboards the judges are looking for a combination of classic and contemporary surfing with the emphasis being on skill and control. Walking the board as opposed to “shuffling” is important as are nose rides where both the competitors feet are actually on the nose (front 12″).

Bodyboarders may perform both forehand and backhand (reverse) spinners with the latter being more difficult and therefore deserving of more points. Equally, spinners that generate speed (as opposed to the rider simply turning through 360′) are to be rewarded.
Arials are another high scoring manoeuvre especially when performed in the critical sections. Manoeuvres in the soup (apart from the initial one when the wave closes out) are not normally scored unless there are a lack of rideable faces.

Riders who perform with their hands free of the rails should receive more points for performing the same manoeuvres as those who grab their rails.
Competitors or judges who are unsure of the criteria for a particular discipline, or who have problems evaluating different rides, should attend a B.S.A. judges course or contact the office for guidance.
Interference Rule

Basic Rule
The surfer on the inside at the initial point of take-off has unconditional right of way for the whole duration of their ride. Interference will be called if, during the ride, the majority of judges feel that another competitor has hindered the scoring potential of the surfer deemed to have right of way. The point of take-off is defined as that position on a wave, which a judge considers to be the point closest to the critical part of the wave, at which a surfer, at the earliest opportunity, can take-off.
Anyone who stands up in front of this inside surfer has the chance to ride or kick out of the wave without being called for interference, unless they hinder the scoring potential of the surfer with right of way. The interfering surfer must be penalised.

Interference must be called if a judge considers that a surfer has interfered at any stage of the take-off (i.e. excessive hassling, leg rope pulling, breaking down a section).

Interference and right of way
It is the responsibility of the judges to determine which surfer has inside
position and therefore right of way.

At the start of the days events the head Judge will decide which of the following conditions are applicable:-
Point Break

When there is only one available direction on any given wave, the surfer on the inside
(nearest the curl) shall have unconditional right of way for the entire duration of that
Beach break

Single Peak: Where there is a single well defined peak with both a left and a right
available the surfer considered on the inside at the initial point of take-off shall have
unconditional right of way for the duration of that wave in the direction he chooses
(by making an obvious right or left turn). A second surfer may go in the opposite
direction on the same wave without incurring a penalty, providing he does not
interfere with the first surfer who has established right of way (i.e. he may not cross
the path of the first surfer in order to gain the opposite side of the peak unless he does
so without hindering the inside surfer).

Multiple Peak: with multiple, random peaks wave possession may vary slightly
according to the nature of an individual wave.

With two peaks, there will be cases where one swell will have two separate, defined
peaks far apart that eventually meet at some point. Although two surfers may each
have inside position on those respective peaks, the surfer who is first to his feet shall
be deemed to have wave possession and the second surfer must give way by cutting
back or kicking out before hindering the right of way surfer.

If two surfers stand at the same time on two separate peaks that eventually meet,
then if: They both give way by cutting back or kicking out, so that neither is hindered, there will be no penalty.

They cross paths and collide or hinder one another, the judges will penalise the surfer who has been the aggressor at the point of contact.
Neither surfer gives way, by cutting back or kicking out, and both share responsibility for the confrontation, then a double interference will be called.

The surfer who is farthest inside at the initial point of take-off and has established wave possession is entitled to that wave for the duration of his ride, even though another surfer may subsequently take-off in the white water behind him. The judges will not penalise the surfer because he has right of way even though he is in front.
If the second surfer has not hindered the original surfer with right of way, then the judges may choose not to penalise him and will score both surfers rides.

If in the opinion of the judges, the second surfer has interfered with (snaked) the original surfer with right of way, by causing him to pull out or lose the wave, or has affected that surfers scoring potential then interference must be called on the second surfer, even though he is behind the first when the penalty is called.

The above situations apply only to multiple surfer heats or man on man in non priority situations. In Man on Man it remains as one man one wave no exceptions if a surfer has priority.
Cross Overs

If two surfers are riding the same wave they may not cross each others paths. Should a cross over occur then one or both of the surfers must be marked for an interference.

Paddling Interference
In four man heats a surfer who has inside position should not be excessively hindered by another surfer paddling for the same wave.

Paddling Interference may be called if:
1. The offending surfer makes contact with or forces the inside surfer to change his line while paddling to catch the wave causing possible loss of scoring potential.
2. The offending surfer obviously causes a section to break down in front of the inside surfer which would not normally have done so causing loss of scoring potential.

When a surfer is put in a position while paddling out that he cannot get out of the way and a collision happens due to this it is up to a majority of the judges to call interference based on whether it is felt to be accidental or not.
End of the heat

A competitor may return to the beach at the end of the heat in a prone position on the same wave as a competitor riding his last wave, provided there is no interference to the riders progress.

Method of Recording an Interference
If in the opinion of a judge a “Drop In” interference has occurred he will score the offending surfers wave in the normal way and will mark a triangle around that score, with an arrow pointing to the offended surfers wave.
To be enforced, an interference must be scored by a majority of judges. A head judge may be included in which case 2 out of 4 or 3 out of 6 judges will constitute a majority.

Penalty for Interference
a) Interferences against competitors
If a majority of judges call a riding interference, that wave will count in the surfers score as a zero, then the lowest scoring wave will count in the final tally as a 50% score for the offending surfer, (surfer will achieve half the wave score).
b) In early and up after penalty
The head judge will report the infringement – called by the head judge and/or the majority of judges – to the tabulators, and the offending surfer will be penalised. The penalty will be as decided at the beginning of the event (either as a) above or a fine).
Any Competitor has the right to protest the result of a heat. All protest must be in writing and be submitted, in the case of team events, by his manager or coach, to the Contest Director. The Contest Committee will consider the merits of each case.