Rules and Judging



Paddleboard Race Rules and Safety

1. Race Rules

a) A competitor must be standing while paddling once a race has started (prone paddlers excluded) until crossing over the finish line. A competitor is allowed to sit, lay or kneel to rest without making forward progress. If a competitor takes more than five strokes while sitting, laying or kneeling once a race has started the competitor may be disqualified (DNF). The exception with this would be for safety reasons where a competitor needs to avoid or may be put into a potentially dangerous situation that would put them or others at risk of  injury and or property damage.

b) A competitor shall only use the paddle, waves and wind to propel the board forward during a race. No outside assistance drafting a vessel not in the race, form of a sail, clothing designed to catch wind, or any other speed device not considered the norm to SUP or paddleboard racing is allowed. Boat wakes are considered natural conditions unless a competitor is deemed as getting an unfair advantage over other competitors as with drafting (see drafting rule).

c) The safety of all participants and competitions is the number one priority of the event committee and Seven Seas Industries. Participants shall attend all competitor meetings and race postings to keep themselves informed with the typical conditions for the race and also the day of conditions to be expected. Race Directors will warn competitors of any dangers that could occur and where all safety personal will be located on the course during the pre-race competitors meeting. Competitors shall be mindful of the hand signals to be used if someone is injured, danger (paddle in the air, waiving or erect) or in need of help but not injured (hand in the air). All competitors should be mindful with any persons that may be in danger during the course of the race and should assist or help get safety staff attention. The United States Coast Guard recommends wearing lifejackets while operating personal watercraft (PWC) such as a Stand Up Paddle board.

d) A racer may only draft off another competitor in the same board class, gender and number of competitors per board. In other words, if you are racing on a SUP 12’6” board and a female competitor you may only draft off another female competitor on a SUP 12’6” board. A racer may NOT draft off any other board class, vessel or opposite gender. A competitor is allowed time to pass another competitor without a rules infraction however a competitor must make a effort to pass or move out away from the draft of the other craft to not incur a penalty or disqualification. The maximum time allowed without making progress to pass another craft is one minute. Penalty will be one minute added for each infraction or disqualification for a rules breech of drafting as determined by the race committee.

e) Drafting distance: a competitor is declared drafting when they are inside 3 meters (10 feet) behind another racer and 2 meters (6.5 feet) on the side of another competitor without making an effort to pass. A competitor does have 500 meter (546 yards) from the start of the race to let competitors to get sorted out. After 500 meters it is up to the racers and the race committee to police drafting. Please see rule 9a to help eliminate drafting out of class.

2. Violations

a) It is the competitor’s responsibility to act in a sportsman like fashion, avoid a collision at all times and obey the listed rules on the event web site and announced by the race director. If there is contact or unsportsmanlike conduct during the time of a race that effects the outcome for any racer and they feel they have been penalized or interfered with that has caused the racer to lose position and or time, the competitor that was deemed penalized must file a written protest within 15 minutes of the last person to finish the race in question. In doing so the competitor must inform the other party(s) that they may have fouled them during the course of the race and also bring in any witness’s to attest to their claim and or protest to the race committee. All protest decisions are final upon the committee’s review and the protest committee may rule in favor or overrule the protest.

b) Violations of the rules and or unsportsmanlike conduct by a competitor that is listed on the event web site or that is posted by the race director but not limited to: purposely obstructing or interfering with another competitor, causing damage or bodily harm to another competitor, use of profane language toward any persons or competitor while at a race, not rounding a mark, competing on the proper course, over the start line early, avoiding a collision and adhering to the drafting rules. A witness(s) are mandatory to back one’s violation claim for all parties affected.



The Purposes of these Rules are to:

Provide for a fair and safe competition that encourages the development of good will between nations.

Provide a standard measure to identify the people who exhibit the most skills in moving a kayak on the most challenging parts of the wave.

General Surfing Criteria

A surfer must execute the most radical controlled manoeuvres in the critical section of a wave with speed and power throughout. The surfer who executes such manoeuvres on the biggest and/or best waves shall be deemed the winner.

  1. Radical Controlled Manoeuvres

Judges expect to see changes of direction of the boat on the wave. Such manoeuvres would include bottom turns, re-entries, cutbacks, floaters, aerials, tube rides, top turns, late take-offs, trimming and stalling, etc. How radical they are, followed by the amount of control and commitment put into each of them, will determine how high they will score. In particular, judges are looking for the bigger, more radical, manoeuvres, with ‘rail to rail’ surfing, rather than single rail surfing.

It is important to note, a surfer has to complete a manoeuvre for it to be scored. It will not score well if they lose control or are not able to continue on the wave.

  1. Most Critical Section

Higher scores occur if the surfer stays in the critical section of the wave, the “pocket” closest to the curl. The degree of commitment and the risk involved in performing close to the curl is the reason that it scores higher.

  1. The Biggest and/or Best Waves

Wave selection is a critical factor for a surfer in their heat. The waves selected will dictate the manoeuvres they are able to perform. There is less emphasis put on wave size in small to medium conditions due to the fact that the best waves may not necessarily be the biggest. However, in a contest with big wave conditions, a large part of the criteria would be the size. A surfer should be prepared to demonstrate the greatest commitment to the critical part of the wave. A surfer does not automatically score high because of wave size or quality. What the surfer does with the wave is a more important criteria.

  1. The Different Categories (Long and Short Boats)

Short Boats/Waveski/SUP: More emphasis will be put on big, more dynamic, maneuvers than on long rides

Long Boats: More emphasis is put on large carving type maneuvers with longer rides.

Note that the longer the ride, the more potential time to score points, so the higher potential score, in both categories. Length of ride is not scored.

Judging in Bad Conditions

In poor surf judges concentrate on surfers who are utilizing the mini power-pockets on the wave with explosive moves that are normally timed to occur at each of these spots on the wave. Higher scores will occur if maneuvers are being linked directly to another without paddling all the way to the next section.


To determine interference, the judges first decide which surfer has the right of way as a situation arises. The judges then determine whether the surfer with the Right of Way has been possibly hindered in his scoring potential. The key word in these criteria is “possibly.” If the judge has to consider whether or not they have hindered the other surfer, then they have possibly hindered the scoring potential of the Right of Way surfer, so the interference must be called.

What Judges Consider

  1. Which surfer has the Right of Way? At the take off point, the inside surfer always has unconditional Right of Way.
  2. Was there interference or not? Did the surfer with unconditional Right of Way have his scoring potential possibly hindered?
  3. What rule in the book reflects to the infringement? Drop-in, snaking, paddling, breaking down a section, or excessive hassling?

The Interference Rule is:

The surfer deemed to have the inside position for a wave, has unconditional right of way for the entire duration of that ride. Interference will be called if during that ride, a majority of judges feel that a fellow competitor has possibly hindered the scoring potential of that surfer deemed to have the Right of Way for the wave.

Anyone who surfs in front of a surfer with the Right of Way has the chance to kick out of the wave without being called for interference, unless he/she hinders the scoring potential of the surfer with the Right of Way by any means including excessive hassling, hindering progress, or breaking down a section.

  1. Point Break (Single Direction Wave) – The inside surfer has unconditional Right of Way for the duration of that wave.
  2. Single Peak (Left & Right Breaking Wave) – The surfer considered to have the inside position at the initial point of take off has unconditional Right of Way in the direction he chooses by making an obvious turn. A second surfer may surf in the opposite direction.
  3. Beach Break (Multiple Random Peaks) – Two separate peaks that eventually meet then both surfers are required to kick out of the wave or straighten out to avoid collision.
    • If they both give way by cutting back or kicking out, so that neither is hindered, there will be no penalty.
    • If they cross paths, collide or hinder one another, the judges may penalize the surfer who has been the aggressor at the point of contact, or may penalize both surfers.
    • If neither surfer gives way, by cutting back or kicking out, and both share responsibility for the confrontation, then a double interference will be called.

Paddling Interference

Paddling interference may be called if:

  1. The offending surfer makes contact with, or forces the inside surfer to change his line while paddling to catch the wave causing possible loss of scoring potential.
  2. The offending surfer obviously causes a section to break down in front of the inside surfer, which would not normally have happened causing loss of scoring potential.
  3. When a surfer is put in a position while paddling out that he cannot get out of the way and a collision happens due to this, it is up to a majority of judges to call interference based on whether it is felt to be accidental or not.

Note: If two or more paddlers collide there must have been either dangerous surfing or poor judgment from at least one of the paddlers involved. If one of the paddlers is not at fault for the collision, then both/all the paddlers must have an interference called against them. This is to enforce safety as a prime directive of the sport.


The surfer who is farthest inside at the initial take off point is entitled to that wave for the duration of his ride. However, if a surfer takes off on the white water behind the first surfer, he will be penalized if the surfer taking off at the peak is forced to pull out and loses the wave. (Note, this does not prevent behind-the-peak takeoffs started in green water).

The Right of Way rule says that the surfer who is farthest inside at the initial take off point is entitled to that wave for the duration of his ride.  Judges expect that there will be jockeying for position on some waves.  However, paddling in front of, around, or behind a competitor who has inside position and is about to take off on a wave, in order to impede the competitor and take possession of a wave, is considered to be snaking, and will result in an interference call.

In all cases, Green (A) has Right of Way

rightofway rightofway1

General Rules

Competitors must have read and signed the waiver form.

Competitors must be able to perform an Eskimo roll in rough water. Competitors maybe asked to prove this.

Competitors’ kayaks must be inspected and approved as meeting all boat specification and safety requirements at every competition

It is the responsibility of the competitor to report to the Beach Marshall prior to the start of their heat. Failure to comply will result in possible sanctions by the competition committee.

Any competitor surfing in the designated area, while another heat is in progress, will be subject to sanctions.

Competitors are responsible for entering their heat wearing the correct color of bib, as determined by the Beach Marshall listings, where they receive their bib. Failure to comply will result in sanctions.

Competitors may have assistance emptying their kayaks and re-launching while the heat is in progress. But if you are rescued by the rescue boat or ski, this will be the end of your heat. Points already gained will stand, but no more points can be earned in that heat.

In each heat, a competitor can take a maximum of 10 waves, and will be scored on their best 2 waves

Sanctions / Punishments

The standard punishment for interference with 2 wave scoring is the competitor judged to be at fault, loses half their lowest scoring wave from that heat.

If a competitor commits 2 interferences or more in one heat, this will be the end of their heat.

If the judges, WSKA or contest organizers believe that a competitor is purposely trying to disrupt the competition, is constantly causing interferences, or is acting unsafely, unfairly or in an un-sportsmanlike manner, the competitor can be disqualified from the competition.


All competitors have a right to protest. The cost of this will be set by Organizer at the start of the contest. The protest committee will decide the result of the protest. No protest will be heard against a judging problem. Only clerical errors will be looked at. No video footage will be submitted.

The protest committee will be appointed and displayed before the start of the event.

Individual Event Competitors

A Master is defined as a person 40 years of age or older on January 1st of the competition year and 50 years of age or younger on December 31st on the competition year (not 51 in that year or a grand master).  A Grand Master is defined as a person 50 years of age or older on January 1st of the competition year and not a Master.

Entry numbers maybe limited in certain classes.

In the individual event, competitors can only compete in a maximum of 2 categories.

The competition organizer will try to stop competitor’s heats clashing with other heats in different categories they have entered. But this may not always be possible

It is up to each individual competitor to tell the competition director of any clashes. If a change is not possible, the competitor will have to decide which heat they want to compete in.

Safety Rules

All boats/all categories:

Must have rounded ends: All kayaks must have a minimum diameter of 50mm (allowing for 6mm protuberance) in the plan view at the front of the kayak.                          

Kayaks Must Not have an “Extended End”: Kayaks must be more than 10cm wide, 10cm back from the front end of the kayak in plan view.

All kayaks must have buoyancy and float if filled with water; the kayak must have full buoyancy in the back of the boat and some buoyancy in the front, to keep the kayak floating level when flooded. This buoyancy can be; Full foam, a bulkhead or a proper manufactured airbag (i.e. No wine boxes, beach balls, swim aids, etc)

All kayaks must have tails fitted. Tails must be at least 20cm long with a knot in the end, must reach past the end of the kayak and must not form an entrapment (i.e. no loop that a finger or hand can fit through). The tail, if webbing, must have a minimum width of 25mm, if rope, must be 8mm diameter or more (as measured, not manufactured). Tails must be of permanent attachment so not to break off when used.

Helmets are required while surfing in this competition and must be approved by your country’s governing body. (CE Approved or equivalent)

For Kayaks Buoyancy Aids / PFD’s (Personal Flotation Devices) or Impact vests are required to be worn while surfing in the competition. Inflatable life jackets are not allowed. PFD’s and Impact vests must be coast guard approved and of foam construction. Inflatable vests will not be allowed. It must have an official flotation rating, equivalent to (BS) EN 393, this requires a floatation of 50N. This could be checked at the contest. (By putting a 5kg weight on the item, and seeing if it floats).

For SUPS and Waveskis a leash must attach the rider to their boards.

The competition committee will do their best to make sure that competition runs in safe surf conditions. It is up to the individual competitor to decide if the surf conditions are above their own ability or not. If competitors chose go into the surf, it will be at their own risk.

Boat Design Specifications

Boat Length:

Long Boat:  3m or longer as measured in a horizontal plane.

Short Boat:  2.75m or under, as measured in a horizontal plane.

Hull design:

Long Boat: The hull may be any shape as long as the maximum concave depth under a straight edge, placed perpendicular to the long axis of the kayak at any point on the hull, is less than 10mm. There are no additional restrictions on deck design, hull radii or seat location. The kayak can have up to 4 fin boxes, as long as there are no fins in them. Fin boxes must be covered OR empty, and may be no longer than 25 cm and no wider than 2 cm”

Short Boat: no restrictions (fins allowed)

All designs must still take in account, the safety rules as above.

The Competition Committee will have the final decision on any dispute, based upon whether any non-conformance is due to a bad repair/warp or a deliberate attempt to break/bend the rules.

Construction and deck design:

The kayak shall be of hollow construction, with the paddler sitting in, not on, the kayak. Any material is allowed for construction. In addition, each kayak must utilize a fabric type sprayskirt / spraydeck, which completely encircles the paddler’s waist, and the boat’s cockpit to attain “watertight” status from the waist down.

Final Safety Note

The event competition committee retains the right to disqualify any craft, if its shape is deemed dangerous and disallow any other equipment that does not meet the competition committee’s interpretation of the rules and its equipment specifications.

The event committee retains the right to disqualify or enforce sanctions on any persons they feel to be pushing the rules too far, being un-sportsmanlike, etc.