All you need to know about surf judging criteria

Competitive surfers should rely on their own skills, but it's also important to know what surf judges will be looking for when scoring waves. Have you heard of judging criteria?

Surf contests are a dice game. The best surfer doesn't always comes out with the trophy because there are too many variables at stake. Judges are a key variable, alongside with heat tactics.


What is the judging criteria for the ASP WCT and WQS? I'm having difficulty understanding which "standard" maneuvers are gaining the high scores. For instance is a carving cutback scored higher than an off the top tailslide or a top turn pushed 180? What are the new "radical" maneuver guidelines and how are the multiple judges' scores tallied?
asked by Andrew Flack

The ASP WCT's superhero Head Judge, Perry Hatchett explains:

G'day Andrew, here's a reply to a few of your queries:

The ASP criteria reads like this. "The Surfer must perform committed radical maneuvers in the most critical sections of a wave with style, power and speed to maximize scoring potential. Innovative and Progressive surfing will be taken into account when rewarding points for committed surfing. The surfer who executes this criteria with the Highest Degree of Difficulty and control on the better waves shall be rewarded with the higher score."

This criteria was implemented in the year 2000 and came about due to the old one not really being suited to surfing these days. Wording such as the length of ride and too much emphasis on the wave itself and the new age moves were probably the main points that came forward when we decided to change it.

As far as which maneuvers score high, it has all come back down to the new criteria. The most important factors these days are the commitment and degree of difficulty; all surfers can do a lot of the same moves but where they execute them is another story. Even as judges we look at the different moves and decide how difficult the move is and how much risk is taken into it when the surfer executes it.

I think one of the main features is that we are trying to bring the free-surfing sessions more into competition and that is why we have opened up the criteria to so many more variables.

With the judging panel at ASP events there are two types of panels: At WQS level there are seven judges with five on each heat and two rotating. Out of the five, the high and low scoresheets are cut and the other three averaged. At WCT events there are five judges with four on per heat and one rotating. Same goes with the high and low cut off and two remaining sheets averaged.

I hope this helps you out a little with your future surfing. In other words, surf hard with a lot of risk.

What exactly are they looking for? First of all, it's important to know how many officials are making the decisions.

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