Surfing competitions are now held all over the world, in seas, oceans and even swimming pools. Many of them are organized in Italy too and for several years now the Italian Water Ski and Wakeboard Federation (FISW) has existed, which represents the disciplines of Surf Longboard and Shortboard, SUP (Wave, Race and Paddleboard), Body Board and Adaptive Surfing. There are many Italian champions who have excelled in the various disciplines, including Federico Nesti, who won the gold medal in 2019 at Eurosurf for Longboard , or Claire Bevilacqua , who reached first position in the same competition for Shortboard .

But how do these competitions work and how are scores assigned to athletes?

Federico-Nesti-European-champion-Longboard Federico Nesti – 2019 European Champion in Longboard

Although surfing is a free sport and designed to distance the mind from daily distractions, much attention is paid to the simple rules that have been designed for both competitions and amateur practice: there are many "unwritten rules" , which surfers keep to follow so that everyone can enjoy access to the waves.

During an official competition the rules to follow are very simple. These were defined by the World Surf League (WSL), which designed a universal methodology to express a judgment on the athlete's performance , capable of taking into account the variability of the waves, the commitment of the swimmer and the ability to ride the waves higher.


The first thing prepared before the start of a surfing competition is the area of ​​interest of the competition: the competing surfers will only be able to ride the waves present within the competitive area. Subsequently, groups of two or four surfers are drawn up who have to ride the waves in different rounds in a period of about twenty minutes. During the heat, the competing athletes must necessarily respect the precedence : if a surfer is already riding a wave in the competition area, his performance cannot be interfered with, but he must wait for the arrival of the next wave and continue with the competition.


During the competition, for each wave ridden, surfers are assigned scores by five judges. The rating can range from 0.0 to 10.0 , based on the height of the wave ridden , the type and combinations of maneuvers performed during the performance, the speed of execution of the maneuvers, the power and flow of the wave . The final score of the round is calculated by eliminating the highest and lowest scores assigned by the five judges (thus considering the three average scores). Subsequently, the two highest valid scores are added, thus arriving at a maximum of twenty achievable points.


At the end of the competition, a ranking is drawn up based on the scores assigned to the athletes, awarding bonus points based on it: 10.0 points to the first place, 8.0 to the second and so on. These scores are used within the championships: throughout the year the scores are collected at the end of the individual competition, in order to have an absolute ranking that determines the winner of the championship.


In recent decades, surfing competitions have sparked the interest of an ever-increasing audience, not only of enthusiasts or professionals, but also of simply curious people who have become interested in the sport. Athletes achieved their greatest achievement in 2020 , when surfing was included in the official competitions of the Tokyo Olympics , a discipline also confirmed for the subsequent editions of Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. The first Olympic champions in history of surfing were the Brazilian Italo Ferreira and the American Carissa Moore, the former with a score of 14.77 and the latter with 10.73. We can't wait to cheer on the first Italians to win Olympic gold in surfing!

Reading next


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.