Every year, the World Surf League (WSL) coordinates professional men’s and women’s surf tours and competitions. These competitions include Championship Tours (CT), the Qualifying Series (QS), the Longboard Championships, the Junior Championships, the Big Wave Tour and the XXL Big Wave Awards. Each competition falls under the rules and regulations delegated by the WSL. For those who are unfamiliar with these rules, this is the basic outline for them:

Judging and Points

Whether you’re watching the sport of surfing or the one riding the waves, the first thing you’ll want to know is how the judging and points system works. In every competition is made up of rounds and those rounds are made up of heats. In each heat there are between two and four surfers who will try for their two highest-scoring waves. Both of their two waves are out of a possible 10 points and a possible 20-point for their heat total.

Five judges score each wave between one and ten. To determine the points awarded to the surfer, judges look at speed, power, flow, commitment and level of difficulty, innovative and progressive maneuvers, combination of major maneuvers, and variety of maneuvers. At the end of the heat, the highest and lowest scores from the judges are taken out and leave the remaining three scores give the average rating for the surfer. There is no limit to the amount of waves a surfer may ride, but their two best waves will be the ones to determine their heat total.


A surfer’s ranking is decided at the end of year. Men and women compete for the top ranking spots and every competition matters. At the conclusion of each event, points are given to the surfers based on their respective placing. This means that the better their performance is at the event, the more point they will get. When the year comes to a close, women and men surfers at the top of the Rankings will become the WSL Champions. Needless to say, ranking as a WSL Champion is a dream for many surfers around the world.

Priority and Interference

There are a number of rules when it comes to a surfer with priority. A priority surfer has the unconditional right of way to catch any wave they choose. This rule is set in place to prevent any injuries or accidents. Surfing is a very dangerous sport and the priority regulation is set in place to make it safer. If other surfers in the heat take the same wave the surfer with priority has taken, they must do so in a way that would mess up the priority surfer’s score.

If they do hinder the surfer’s scoring on the wave, they are given an interference penalty which usually results in their heat score will being calculated using only their best scoring wave. In some cases, a surfer will be disqualified in the event of an interference penalty. Once the surfer with priority has taken their wave or paddled out, they lose their priority.