More or less every surf competitionworks the same way. But let’s focus on WSL (World Surf League) competitions, since they are the most popular and always feature the world’s best surfers on a yearly tour around the globe.
The rules are quite simple. In the ocean, the WSL will block a section of the water off and competing surfers will have to catch waves within that area. In every event there are different rounds made up of separate heats with two to four surfers that try to get the highest score within the time they are given. The five judges will give out scores from 0.0 to 10.0 for every wave that was caught, but in order to be as fair as possible the highest and lowest scores given by the five judges are taken out of consideration and only the average of the three remaining scores is what makes up the end result for the surfer.
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They can catchas many waves as they like but in the end only the two best waves count for their total out of 20 possible points. They are judged by the commitment and degree of difficulty, innovative and progressive manoeuvres, combination of manoeuvres, variety of manoeuvres and their speed, power and flow.
In the waterone of the surfers will always have priority. This means they have the right of way and other surfers may not take off on the same wave if it hinders the surfer with priority. Once the surfer catches a wave or even paddles for one, he loses priority and it moves on to another competitor. If a surfer does hinder another with priority he will get an interference penalty which usually means a reduction of his score, or in repeated cases he will get disqualified.
At the end of the event, surfers are given points based on their placement. First place will get 10,000 points, second place will get 8,000 etc. Throughout the year surfer try to get as many points as possible and the surfer with the most points wins the world title.