Disciplines Recognized by
ISA & BEWSA
Surfboard – Stand up surfboard riding
Divisions: Open, Junior and Women
Surfing is the term is used for a surface water sport in which the person surfing moves along the face of a breaking ocean wave (the “surf”). However, surfing is not restricted to saltwater, but can sometimes take place on rivers, using a standing wave. The main use of the word “surfing” is for riding waves using a board on which the surfer stands. Other forms include bodyboarding, in which the individual riding the wave only partly raises his upper body from the board surface, and from bodysurfing, where no board at all is used.
In tow-in surfing (most often, but not exclusively, associated with big wave surfing), a surfer is towed into the wave by a motorized water vehicle, such as a jetski, generally because standard paddling is often ineffective when trying to match a large wave’s higher speed.
Depending on wave size, direction, and on wind conditions, sailboats can also surf on larger waves on open sailing waters. Unlike “surfers”, sailors usually do not surf in beach waves, and they usually do not go out in order to surf; instead, the wave and wind conditions may allow them to boat surf during a sailing trip. More recently, the same principle of craft-based surfing has been increasingly used by kayakers, notably in the sport of playboating, which is mostly carried out on rivers (see playspot).
Surfing-related sports such as paddleboarding and sea kayaking do not require waves, and other derivative sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing rely primarily on wind for power, yet all of these tools may also be used to ride waves.
Traditional Longer surfboard
Divisions: Open division only
LONGBOARD Design: Length is a minimum of 9 feet from the tip of the board in a
straight line along its length. Width dimensions to be a minimum aggregate of 47
inches. That is the total of the widest point, plus the width 12 inches up from the tail
and the width 12 inches back from the nose.
Lying in various positions on a soft board. Rider might use swim fins.
Divisions: Open and WomenBodyboard
Design: Boards will be flexible and shall include some portion of soft exterior
skin, shall not exceed 5 feet in length and the use of fins is optional.
Kneeling surfboard riding. Rider might use swim fins.
Division: Open division only
Kneeboard Design: Unspecified, but must be ridden on knees.
Throwing the board from the beach into the incoming wave, jumping on the board, and surfing said wave. No paddling is involved. Recognized by the ISA but not included in the ISA World Surfing Games.
Surfing the wave by only using your body. Rider might use swim fins. Recognized by the ISA but not part of the ISA World Surfing Games
(aka SUP’s) are one of the hottest new water activities. Although stand up paddle boarding has been around for years in Hawaii, it’s becoming more and more popular worldwide. It is much like surfing, but it’s easier and offers a more relaxed experience. You also don’t need big waves. You can paddle along flat water and have a ball. Standing on the water gives you a nice view of what’s going on in and out of the water. It’s a great activity for the whole family!
Stand up paddling, also known as SUP is also a wonderful cross-training workout. Because you’re balancing on the board, you are exercising your legs. While paddling works your arms and the core of your body. SUP also improves reaction time. Stand up paddlers have said that thirty minutes of SUP works your body better than several hours of surfing.
SUP Design for Surfing: Unlimited. In the spirit of traditional surfing, no structural device to
maintain foot contact with the board is allowed. [SUP and Paddleboard Racing Rules
- Timing & Wavecounts
a. Recommended heat times and wave counts: Heats and Finals will be best 2 waves from a
minimum of up to 10 waves or a maximum of up to 15 waves ridden by each surfer and be
nominated by the Contest Director after consultation with the Head Judge. Heats and Finals
will be a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of up to 30 minutes and be nominated by
the Contest Director after consultation with the Head Judge.
b. Variations to heat times may be made in cases where there may be insufficient time to finish
an Event. ISA Technical Director, ISA Contest Director and ISA Head Judge will decide this
at the relevant time.
c. The Contest Director will consult with the Head Judge for a recommendation on heat times
and wave counts. Any alteration during an event must be made known to Team Managers
before surfers enter the water.
d. Official timing of all heats will be done by the Commentator, or in the absence of a
Commentator, by the Head Judge.
e. A five minute visual and PA warning will be given when 5 minutes remain in a heat.
f. Siren or horn blasts must be used to start and finish heats. One blast to start and two blasts
to finish. The Head Judge will indicate when a heat is to commence.
g. A large disc system at least 1 meter square must also be used. Green to start and yellow for
the last 5 minutes.
h. The commentator must give a five second countdown at the beginning and end of each heat,
and when he reaches zero the heat must start or end immediately.
i. The first of the two sirens must blow immediately when the commentator reaches zero. The
official end of the heat is when the siren is first audible to the Head Judge, who will indicate
to the judges that no more rides are to be scored for that heat. The siren takes precedence
over the disc.
j. The colored disc must be in the neutral position with no color showing when the
commentator reaches zero in the countdown. The disc must remain in the neutral position
k. In the event of siren failure the colored disc will be the indicator for heat timing.
l. During and at the end of any heat the surfer must be clearly in possession of the wave on
the wave face, making a movement to stand, his hands having left the rails (rail grabs
excluded) for the wave to be scored.
m. If the Contest Director wishes to use the minimum time delay between heats (of 10 seconds)
he must provide a marshalling area in the water outside of the lineup.
n. In the case of a water start the maximum time between heats shall be 5 minutes, unless
unforeseen circumstances arise.
o. Under no circumstances will there be any time extensions once a heat has entered the
water. If a heat is interrupted for any reason it will be stopped by the Head Judge and will be
resumed at the time it was stopped, and will run for its original period.
p. The only exception will be if the Head Judge, in consultation with other qualified officials,
feels that the entire heat should be rerun because no surfer had a clear advantage at the
time of cancellation, or if altered conditions make it impossible for judges to keep to the
q. Also, if the halfway mark of any heat is reached and no one has caught a wave then the
heat may be cancelled and re-run. The Head Judge must decide on this at the time.
r. If the Beach Marshall tells Surfers in a heat the wrong heat time then the following shall
s. If actual heat time is shorter then a restart at a later time for the remaining time period as
told by the Beach Marshall will occur with all Surfers starting from the line-up.
t. If actual heat time is longer than told by the Beach Marshall the heat will run through to the
end of the actual set time by the judging panel.
u. It is a competitor’s responsibility to monitor the number of waves he has ridden. An attempt
will be made to inform a competitor who has caught the maximum number of waves. Surfers
must monitor their wave count. Protests will NOT be accepted. If more than the maximum
number of waves is ridden, within the time limit, the surfer shall be penalized for each extra
wave caught. In addition the surfer who remains in the water after catching the wave
maximum will be penalized with a fine or interference if:
v. He/she rides an extra wave that clearly deprives another competitor of an available ride
w. He/she interferes with any other competitor by paddling, positioning or blocking causing
loss of scoring potential.
x. This penalty might be a fine OR disqualification (OR both) for unsportsmanlike
conduct. In this case, the surfers’ team points will be scrapped.
- Contestable Surf Conditions
a. There must be a minimum of 18 inches (0,5m) of wave height before surf can be deemed
contestable. A special allowance may be made on the final scheduled day of an event, if the
surf is rideable. This will be determined by the Contest Director and Head Judge.
- Start of Heat
a. All heats are started from either a marshalling area in the line-up, or from the beach, under
the Contest Director’s direction. The marshalling area in the line-up must be clear of the
take-off area, and the Contest Director must demarcate the marshalling area by means of a
buoy or other suitable method.
b. Where water starts are being used, competitors will be permitted to paddle out within a time
limit set by the contest Director in consultation with the Head Judge, and will congregate in
the marshalling area, well clear of competitors in the heat in progress. Surfers may only
paddle towards the line-up ONLY when the previous heat has ended. Any surfer entering the
take-off area during the preceding heat may be penalized. In extreme conditions the
Contest Director may allow extra paddle time.
If a surfer enters the water and paddles out before the designated paddle out time, the surfer
will be subject to a listed fine. In addition, if the surfer reaches the takeoff position before the
other competitors and is considered to have advantage, this surfer is banned from taking a
wave until after the first wave of the heat has been caught by any other competitor. If the
surfer paddles out before the designated time and proceeds to ride the first heat wave(s),
before any other surfer in the heat, then this wave(s) will be scored as zero(s).
- Unauthorised Surfers in Contest Area
a. While the contest is in progress any unauthorized surfer in the competition area may be
penalized. This ruling also applies to clearing the water before the start of the day’s events.
b. If a surfer in the heat rides a wave out of the competition area, the judges may score that
ride. If the judges do not score the wave, or score only score part of it, the surfer does not
have the right of protest.
c. Any surfer standing up and riding during the preceding heat may be penalized. Waves
caught during the dead time between heats will not be scored. No penalty or fine is
applicable during “dead time”
d. Any surfer standing up after his heat and riding during the next heat maybe fined,
disqualified (or both) depending on the severity of the interference.
- Buffer Zone[s]
a. Buffer Zone: An area of “non-competition” space to separate two podiums. Judges decisions
regarding admissible waves in and around the buffer zone are final and not subject to
b. Recommended minimum 100 metres wide and limited by “lines of sight” between a beach
flag and a contest buoy set adjacent in the water.
c. Rules of the Buffer Zone [BZ]
i. A ride deemed to be caught in the buffer zone MAY not be scored
ii. A surfer may only catch a wave in the direction of his/her podium from the vicinity of
the BZ line or in the edge of the BZ.
iii. No ROW applies in the BZ
iv. Any competitor crossing the BZ into the other podium will not be scored as it is
deemed to be outside the contest area and likewise, if a wave is caught in the wrong
podium it will not be scored. Any surfing activity in the wrong podium risks an
interference penalty and / or a fine for surfing in the contest area. The HJ on the
infringed podium will notify the surfer by Announcement and by communication to
the affected HJ on the other podium.
v. A surfer may ride into the BZ but risks that portion of the ride not being scored.
The following factors should be
considered when analyzing each wave in such heats:
1. Where was the first maneuver executed?
2. How well was it executed?
3. How well were the maneuvers connected together?
4. Did the surfer execute rail-to-rail turns through the flat sections or hop
through the flat sections or through to the next section?
5. How did the outside maneuvers compare to the inside maneuvers?
6. How deep was the surfer at the initial point of take-off?
7. How did the surfer utilize/flow on the wave?
8. Did the surfer make sections and were the maneuvers functional?
9. Was the maneuver completed with control?
- Judging Scale and Categories:
The zero to ten point scoring system used by the ISA is broken up into the
0.1 – 1.9 Poor
2.0 – 3.9 Fair
4.0 – 5.9 Average
6.0 – 7.9 Good
8.0 – 10 Excellent
Judges should refer to this to establish accurate scores for the first wave
Wave scoring is broken into one tenth increments i.e.: 0.1 – 10 (ten) Judges
should try to remember all scoring waves so as to avoid judging higher as the
The last wave exchanges should be judged based on the same criteria as the
first wave exchanges .The first wave scored, sets the scale for the heat and
should remain in the judge’s mind as the benchmark for that level of
performance and wave comparisons.
Individual wave scores are what the judge should concentrate on and the final
outcome of the heat should be based on scoring waves.
As no surfer rides any wave in the same way, judges should try hard to
differentiate between all scoring waves.
Judges should not deliberate but should put a score down after the ride is
During the heat, wave counts should be called as frequently as possible while
the contestants are NOT riding. Repeat wave counts regularly.
Judges must avoid being influenced by the spectators, commentators or by
friendships and other outside influences and should have the confidence to
stand by their decisions.
During the heat, opinions should not be shared with other judges.
Stand Up Paddle Surf
SUP performance uses the normal judging criteria of the ISA rulebook.
Judges however will reward as higher level manoeuvres, those that are
done with the obvious use of the paddle to give greater degrees of
leverage and thus the creation of increasingly radical moves.
SUP surfing is unique and can be done many ways but for competition it is
important to set criteria’s that set it apart from just long boarding. Only a single
blade paddle is to be used in SUP. The paddle is a tool and a big part of the
sport therefore it is not just used to help catch a wave, but is necessary as a tool
[aid] for riding the waves [similar to a Ski pole when skiing].
1. The judging scale will be 10 points with normal ISA contest rules applying.
2. The aggregate of the best rides will decide the final score for each surfer
and interferences adjudicated according to the ISA Surfing Rulebook.
3. Good SUP transition time [end of one wave to paddle-in to next one] should
be spent standing and paddling with good technique and stable wave
negotiation. Kneeling, lying or sitting whilst paddling, unless necessary for
safety is regarded as bad SUP form. Note the critical element: To the best
of a rider’s ability he / she are expected to stand up on the board at all
times throughout the heat, unless the situation of safety dictates
4. Entry into the wave should be by paddling in the standing position to enable
the maximum score.
5. Surfing – average scores for all maneuvers will be allocated unless the
paddle is used as a pivot or tool in maneuvers, then power, radical moves,
critical sections and degree of difficulty are the deciding factors.
Competitors will start from the beach unless instructed otherwise by the Contest
“Using the paddle”: The paddle is correctly used in SUP surfing to do three main
things: it is used in turns as a brace, a pivot, and a force multiplier. A surfer will
be scored higher when he uses the paddle in some or all of these three ways to
achieve sharper or more powerful turns. Tricks such as twirling or otherwise
using the paddle in a non-functional manner will earn little or no extra score for
Traditional long board surfing compared to progressive SUP surfing techniques:
Because the paddle allows large SUP boards to be turned with high rates of
speed and power, stand-up paddle surfing is deemed to be, at the competition
level, a performance-centered branch of surfing, much like conventional
shortboarding. Footwork, nose riding and style points will be scored, but this will
be done in their relationship to the criteria of degree of difficulty and critical
nature of wave positioning.
to ensure all competitors develop a standard approach and understanding of
what is expected from an elite performer in SUP.
Community Based Activities: Surfing clubs of all disciplines from time to time
may have the need to conduct mass surfboard “fun” paddle races [or
participation activities] that could be used as club and charity fundraiser projects.
General rules to control such activities can be drawn from the SUP Racing
- EVALUATION OF JUDGES
Method (Manual): This only applies to contests where there is no computer
system supplied. The ISA computer system generates statistical analysis of
judging performance based on average scores and not on placing given by a
judge. With either manual or computer averages, the complete judging analysis
sheet is based on the manual or computer averages, as well as, the Head
Judges evaluation of the individual judge. Half of the evaluation is based on the
averages achieved on their error rate and the other half is based on the
complete Head Judge evaluation out of 100 points. Both Averages and
evaluations are added together then halved. The resulting average is out of
100% and is a true analysis of the judges’ ability.
The level of accuracy of judge is measured by comparing the placing given by a
judge in a particular heat against the actual placing in the heat.
The evaluation is made on all the competitors in the heat from first place to last
A perfect score is a zero and is awarded to a judge who has correctly placed all
the competitors in the heat.
One point is added to a Judge’s score for each place error he has made. In
other words, if the judge’s placing is subtracted from the actual placing – or vice
versa as the case may be – the difference is the Judge’s degree of error.
The judge’s score is then entered in the appropriate column on the Tabulation
Sheet and then recorded on the Judge’s Record Sheet. A Judge’s accuracy is
then calculated by dividing his score by the number of heats that he has judged.
This result gives the average number of place errors per heat judged. In making
this evaluation, the number of heats judged by each judge should not vary by
more than 10%.
Judging Record Sheet:
Maximum possible errors (MPE)
3 man heat = 4 possible errors
4 man heat = 8 possible errors
Judging statistics must be compiled daily. Any judge who proves to be
inconsistent will be dropped from the judging panel and designated other duties
(i.e. Beach marshal, spotter). This can take place at any time and will be
enforced by the Contest Director on the recommendation of the Head Judge.
Record keeping (judging record and analysis sheet)
The judging analysis sheet is compiled from the statistics on the judging record
sheet. By using the maximum possible errors (MPE) within the calculations the
statistics are weighted with the heat sizes judged which in theory allows greater
opportunity of error.
Formula for evaluating judging performance:
Average = Errors/Heats
% Errors = Errors * 100%/MP
Judge’s Performance Assessment Sheet will record the analysis
xvi. SUP and Paddleboard Racing Rules
a. Equipment Specifications
i. SUP Race Craft & Specifications:
12’6” Class Board – Maximum length – maximum length 12’6” measured along
deck. Fixed Fin(s), no rudder
14′ Class Board – Maximum length – maximum length 14′ measured along deck.
Fixed Fin(s), no rudder
Open Class Board. Minimum length – Over 14 feet Design specifications –
ii. Paddleboard [Traditional Prone and Kneeling action] Race Craft &
12’6” Class Board – maximum length 12’6” measured along deck. Fixed Fin(s),
Open Class Board – Minimum length – Over 14 feet Design specifications –
b. Race Disciplines [types]
i. SUP Racing Disciplines:
2-7 km Technical Race Open. Equipment specification sets two class limits to
length only: 12’6″ or 14′.
10-25 km Marathon Race Open. Equipment specification sets three class limits
to length only: 12’6”, 14′ or Open Class.
ii. Paddleboard Racing Disciplines:
Technical [short] course – up to 5 km
Marathon [long] course. – 5 – 15 km
SUP and /or Paddleboard Relay
iii. SUP and Paddleboard Relay:
Equipment specification is “12’6” for SUP and 12’ for Paddleboard.
Team relay over a specified (400 meter leg) short sprint course. Beach Start
from team box by competitor, running to water and collecting equipment,
paddling out and back around marker buoy, leaving equipment and running up
beach to box for changeover to next competitor. Final competitor to sprint to
prearranged finish line within 50 meters of the team boxes. Team members: 2
SUP and 2 Paddleboard [Male and Female of each, or as designated by Contest
c. General Racing Rules – Standup Paddle (SUP) Racing Regulations.
i. Race schedule (Organizer’s responsibility):
A race briefing for competitors is mandatory prior to each race. Within this
briefing, course layout / description, event rules, safety issues and competitor
questions will be covered.
ii. Race Age / Group Categories: These are flexible according to the event.
iii. General Race Rules (All classes): Single blade paddle to be used.
iv. The paddler is intended to be standing at all times whilst paddling. To manage this,
a “(5) five-stroke rule” may be applied to allow continuity. Meaning that if you fall due
to conditions you can take (5) strokes on your knees before standing up. This rule is
in effect so a paddler does not achieve an advantage by not standing up. Each
competitor must complete the course in a standing position on their board.
v. It is allowable for an athlete to kneel on the board for control in & out of the surf
vi. Competitors must follow the designated set course, to be manned by water
marshals and rescue staff.
vii. The nose of the craft is the designated point for crossing the finish line when
determining relative placing in a water finish. Races that are finished on the beach
may require competitors to run through a finish chute or across a designated finish
line. Typically distance races (open class) can have water finishes. Equipment may
be left at the waterline by competitors who then run to the finish.
viii. The finish and start lines must be designated by two buoys/markers and legal
competitors must have not crossed the start line when the starter begins the race.
Races can be started from either the water or the sand/land.
ix. No extraneous aids are allowed. This includes, but is not limited to swim fins,
engines, wind catching devices [i.e.: sails, baggy clothing, etc] and personal support
teams. No twin hulls allowed (i.e.: catamarans).
x. Wetsuits and hats (sun protection) are permissible.
xi. Competitors may be required to have an official mark / race vest and / or race
number on their arm, which must remain on the individual throughout the event. No
competitor shall be recorded as a finisher unless carrying the official mark / wearing
the official vest and number on their arm.
xii. Organizers reserve the right to accept, reject and cancel entries.
xiii. Specific racing interference… unsportsmanlike conduct is not allowable. Specifically,
blocking [whereby a leading paddler changes his line intentionally to block the path
of an overtaking paddler]
xiv. Protests must be made in writing and given to the Race Director within fifteen
minutes of the announcement of the provisional results. All decisions of the Contest
Director will be final.
xv. Race officials shall have the ultimate and final authority to remove a competitor from
the race if the competitor is judged to be physically incapable of continuing the race
without the risk of injury.
xvi. Each entrant must sign the indemnity declaration on the Entry Form before the
event. If under 18, the parent or guardian must sign.
xvii. The organizers reserve the right to reject or cancel any entry.
xviii. Specific Official roles for racing management staff:
Beachmaster (the head racing official, manages starts & finishes)
Race Marshalls (assist Beachmaster, marshalling athletes, starts & finishes)
Course Marshall (responsible for all aspects of the course & safety)
Board Marshall (responsible for all certifications & board measurements)
Timing & Results officials [responsible for recording placings and timing of
xix. Race Types: Four types of events are common in SUP. (amended July 2010)
xx. Surfing performance events will be run according to ISA rules.
xxi. Point to point racing – short and marathon. Ocean and inland waters or a
combination of both.
xxii. Combination events – Usually held on one day with a surfing event in the morning
and then a paddle [usually around 2KM] in the early afternoon. Places in each
discipline are allocated points and winners are declared in both individual disciplines
and overall. These combination events may require riders to use the same board in
both disciplines. If so, boards are initialed by the Contest / Race Director.
xxiii. Team events (based on the Aloha Cup relay concept for surf and paddle)
xxiv. Risk management is a location by location issue for organizers. Racing rules are
basic [above] and currently there are no set rules covering tactical /interference
issues. Protests will be handled by the Contest / Racing Director based on actual
interference and impeding progress, fairness and sportsmanship criteria.