How do Surfing Competitions Work?

One of the amazing sports in the world is surfing. Other than being a sport that people engage in for fun, there are various surfing competitions held throughout the year. Surfing is one of the sports included in the Olympic Games. If you are new to the world of surfing, it can be quite difficult to comprehend how exactly the surfing competitions work. You might think that that surfer who seems to be the best will win only to find out that he is not the winner. There are so many variables to consider during competitions.For people who are still trying to wrap their head around how surfing competitions work, here are some facts that will give you more insight.

  1. Surfing competition organizers

While other bodies might organize their surfing competitions, the chief organizer for surfing competitions is the World Surf League (WSL) and International Surfing Association. Surfers who are registered and are part of WSL participate in some of the world’s largest surfing competitions and tours like the World Championship Tour, the biggest of all, World Qualifying Series. As for International Surfing Association, it bases membership on countries and countries can send teams to represent them in their competitions.

  1. Heats

In surfing competitions, you must pass certain heats to progress to the next round. A single heat involves two-four surfers surfing together in a competition zone. They have twenty to thirty minutes to catch the best waves with every wave rated on a scale of one-ten points by a panel of judges. For each surfer, they select the best two of their best wave. The results of each are combined meaning that getting two perfect waves will earn you a score of 20.

  1. Formats of the heats/contest

The contests or the heats can take on various forms depending on the competition. Some of the formats that are common in surfing competitions include the man on man format, the non-elimination format, and the team format.

  1. The time

A heat usually lasts for about twenty to thirty minutes depending on the particular competition. One of the better ways to win a contest is by putting up an incredible performance within a limited period. The faster you catch the big waves and stun the judges with your maneuvers and skills, the better the scores you get.

  1. Judges

There is usually a panel of six judges, four per heat. For the Prime and 6-Star events, the number of judges usually is seven with five per heat. The judges are often separated. The head judge’s role is to ensure that other members of the panels do not interfere with the calls or discuss their scores. Missing a wave will require a judge to fill in an “M” on the judging sheet and contact the head judge.

  1. Surfer level or category

It is not strange to get situations where the best surfers don’t win the competitions. It is because the level a surfer has attained determines how to judge them. The open professionals are usually judged more harshly as compared to the low-ranking surfers. It is what makes surfing competitions even more challenging. Every surfer must bring their A-game for them to win. It is even a much harder task if you are a professional.

  1. Types and quality of waves

The type and the quality of waves on the particular day of the competition will determine the scale to use. Ocean conditions change regularly and call for the scales used for each heat to be adjusted accordingly. The type of wave, also, influences the score. A wave like the Trestles will score lower points for the surfer as compared to a pipeline.

  1. Surfer’s wave score

There are some aspects the judges always look out for during the contest. They include the commitment of the surfer, the degree of difficulty, the innovativeness of the surfer, the progressiveness and combination of maneuvers, the speed, the power and the flow of the surfer. For excellent performance, a surfer has to be good in all these aspects. A poor performance in one aspect will affect their overall score. The more dominant and aesthetically appealing your surfing is, the more the judges favor you with their scores. The reverse is, also, true.

  1. Dropping and interference

If another surfer catches more waves than their maximum number allowed, that is referred to as interference. Some surfers when losing in a heat can cause their rival to interfere to make them lose points. It a matter of mind games and this is one of the tactics used by surfers in the ocean. Therefore, a surfer needs to bring their full competitiveness to score most points.

  1. Prizes

The prizes for a contest will depend on the organizers. Competitions held by the World Surf League are usually for money prizes. On the other hand, the competitions organized by the International Surfing Association usually are for medal awards.