Judging Criteria - How competitions are judged

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Sierra Sugar
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Judging Criteria - How competitions are judged

Post by Sierra Sugar »

This post is a guide to help surfers know what the judges are looking for when they score a wave and the thought process of scoring a wave. All waves are scored out of ten points. The criteria below is just again a categorical breakdown and what the judge is looking for.

For each heat, the top two wave scores per surfer are taken for a possible score of 20 points (10 per wave) from each judge. The scores from all the judges are then added together and averaged to arrive at each surfer's final score for that heat, with a maximum score of 20.

With that out of the way, we will discuss the individual categories that judges look for.

There are three major categories: tricks, style/control, and length of ride. Tricks and style/control each are valued at 4 points each. The length of ride is out of 2 points.

Tricks (4 points)
Tricks are either scripted or created by surfers as they interact with the waves. Flips being scripted are cool, but lets face it anyone can do it, if they know the right keys. Doing a barrel roll, a 360, carving up the bottom of a wave are more technical maneuvers. Nevertheless, this kind of technical execution of scoring belongs solely in the Tricks category. The better a surfer integrates his tricks into the overall flow of the wave, obviously the better that surfer will score.

Style/Control (4 points)
This has always been a tough, but essential part of judging surfing competitions. There is always some disagreement, or better... variation in scoring, because judging style and control are very subjective. Therefore we will quote from several sources to help relate our perspective:

"If you did flips straight all the way to the beach and never did anything else, you flunk style even if you get some trick points. Like a wave as a canvas, you are painting a line across it, the style is portrayed by how you move across the wave."

In the example above the surfer lacks style. At the same time, if you perform 360s across the wave and fall off the end or are unable to perform other tricks, you also lack control.

The surfer must perform committed (outside) radical maneuvers in the most critical sections of a wave with style (control), power, and speed to maximize scoring potential... The surfer who executes these criteria with the highest degree of difficulty and control on the better waves shall be rewarded with the highest scores.

Style and control are similar, but not the same. Without control you lose out on style, because your dance across the wave is not flowing. Like the example of doing 360s across the wave. At the same time, a dance with too much control lacks radical maneuvers and can be seen as having a lackluster style. Like only doing flips across the wave. Mixing up radical maneuvers in a complementary way is what style is all about. Control should be a balance, somewhere between not too much and not too little.

A surfer starts with 4 points in this category and if a judge deems they lack either style or control (too much of either without the counterpart) points can be taken away.

Length of Ride (2 points)
This category is fairly simple to score. Simply put, stay on the wave the entire time and try not to fall to paddle. Falling to paddle disrupts the flow of your movement much like falling off the side of the wave.
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Milo Voss
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Post by Milo Voss »

Thank you Sierra, this is the best post I have read on the boards so far. This is exactly what I hear people wondering, the criteria for judging.

You get one of these....catch...../me throws a smile your way :D

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Wilfrid DeCuir
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Post by Wilfrid DeCuir »

Quick question, when fluffies are mixed in with the pipes, and a surfer decides to do few run on them, are points also awarded on surfing fluffies, or is the point system strictly on the Pipes?


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Craig Stallion
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Post by Craig Stallion »

Yes Wilfrid you can incorporate fluffies into your ride. Fluffies do help out if you lose momentum on a pipe. However, if you do decide to ride a fluffy, that will count as a ride. A ride is defined as when you enter the pipe or wave from the lineup point until you fall off or the wave dissolves, barring some freak sl thing in which waves cancel each other out, which we will deal with on a case by case basis. But yes, bottom line is this...FLUFFIES ARE YOUR FRIENDS :).
~*~ In order to see change, we must be the change ~*~

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DeVinna Toll
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Post by DeVinna Toll »


extra points for having LAGGY PC that thinks its letting me 360, ride up wave, flow and stay on the begger?!?!?

Hope so cause i got style but mg SL simply will not allow me to show you LOL : P

nope only kidding thanks for the pointers Sierra :wink:

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Mick Lunasea
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Post by Mick Lunasea »

Modern day rl surf contests, festivals etc have always been judged subjectively meaning subject to what the contest judges deem good, stylish, proficient etc dictated by whats in vogue at the time. Length of ride has been the only constant. The only quantifiable surf contests ever held are the timed nose riding events pioneered by Tom Morey, (yep the guy that invented the boogie board) in the mid 60's. Stop watches record time rider is on front third of board. Again, thought a historical perspective would be of interest.

Thanks Sierra, best description of surf contest judging criteria rl or sl I've ever read. :)

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