Surfing regulations for 2023-24 | Published 3 October 2023

SUR i The BUCS Surfing Championships shall be conducted in accordance with the following BUCS sport specific regulations, the BUCS general regulations, and the rules and regulations of the International Surfing Association (ISA). Further event specific requirements, rules, and regulations will be contained within the entry and pre-event information for each Championship.

SUR ii In the event that these regulations contradict the BUCS general regulations, these BUCS sport specific regulations will supersede, unless specifically stated otherwise.

SUR iii In the event that these regulations contradict the rules and regulations of the International Surfing Association (ISA), these BUCS sport specific regulations will supersede, unless specifically stated otherwise.

SUR 1 Championships BUCS will host annually a Surfing Championships. The programme shall include the events listed in Appendix 1 (‘BUCS Competition Offer and Associated BUCS Points’), subject to entry numbers. All competition specific event information will be available in the event entry information and pre-event information.

SUR 2 Disputes at events In line with REG 7.7, should a dispute occur at an event, the event appeal panel for Surfing shall comprise of a BUCS staff member and the Tournament Director.

SUR 3 Judges

SUR 3.1 BUCS, in collaboration with the appointed Tournament Director, shall appoint all judges. Judging panels for each heat will consist of three, four or five judges who will be rotated. Each judging panel will officiate under the control and direction of a head judge.

SUR 3.2 Event judging criteria Surfers must perform to the ISA judging key elements to maximize their scoring potential. Judges analyse the following major elements when scoring a ride:

  • Commitment and degree of difficulty
  • Innovative and progressive manoeuvres
  • Combination of major manoeuvres
  • Variety of manoeuvres
  • Speed, power and flow

NOTE: It’s important to note that the emphasis of certain elements is contingent upon the location and the conditions on the day, as well as changes of conditions during the day.

SUR 3.3 Judges will score each ride out of 10 points with .1 increments (from 0.1 to 10).

SUR 3.4 A ride will commence:

  • For competitors using a surfboard (including longboards), when their hands leave the rails.
  • For competitors using a kneeboard, when they move to their knees.
  • For competitors using a bodyboard, when they have completed one manoeuvre.

SUR 3.5 If a digital scoring system is being used, competitors will be able to check scores and results via a link which shall be provided in the pre-event information. If a manual scoring system is being used Judges’ and tabulators’ sheets will be available for scrutiny by competitors in the contest control area but must not be removed.

SUR 4 Competition rules 

SUR 4.1 Heats will be started on a single horn blast. Competitors to be standing at the water’s edge, knee depth maximum. Water starts may be permitted at the discretion of the Tournament Director, but competitors must not infringe on the contest area.

SUR 4.2 Heats will end with two horn blasts. There will be a minimum of 30 seconds between heats. The head judge will indicate when a heat is to commence.

SUR 4.3 A flag or disc system will also be used. If a flag system is used, one flag will be raised at the start of a heat. With five minutes to go, a different coloured flag will also be raised. At the end of a heat, both flags will be lowered. If a disc system is used the disc must be one metre in diameter. It must have a light colour on one side and a darker colour on the other. The dark colour indicates that the heat is in progress. The light side is shown to indicate that the heat is in its last five minutes. At the end of the heat the disc is turned edge-on to the sea so that no colour is visible. N.B. The start of the horn blast signifies the start or end of the heat, the flags or disc are for guidance only.

SUR 4.4 Heats will normally be of 15-20 minutes duration and finals 20-30 minutes duration. The Contest Committee will determine heat times. Any alterations will be announced before a heat commences. A heat cannot be extended while in progress.

SUR 4.5 The Contest Committee will decide how many waves will count towards a surfer’s score. Normally it will be their best two waves.

SUR 4.6 Competitors may only ride a maximum of 15 waves and should leave the water after doing so. The penalty for riding more than 15 waves will be a five-point deduction from their total score for each extra wave ridden. A surfer who has ridden more than 15 waves may also be liable to an interference penalty if they remain in the water and interfere in any way with the other competitors in that heat.

SUR 4.7 When the air horn sounds for the end of a heat a surfer must be clearly in possession of the wave (e.g. for board riders, hands having left the rails) for a ride to be scored.

SUR 4.8 When heats are in progress, and at the beginning of the days surfing, any surfer in the defined competition area may be penalised. The penalty will be immediate disqualification.

SUR 4.9 Contestants are to check-in with the Beach Marshal at least five minutes prior to the start of their heat. Singlets are to be worn both from and back to the Beach Marshal and must be returned immediately after the heat has been concluded.

SUR 4.10 At the completion of each heat, surfers will return to the beach in a prone position. A surfer will incur an up-after penalty if they stand up after the end of their heat and remains standing into the next heat. If they drop to a prone position or pull out before the start of the next heat that wave will not score and neither will they be penalised. If a surfer stands up before the end of their heat they may finish their ride and be scored for it even if it ends after their heat has ended and/or the next heat has begun.

SUR 4.11 Heats will normally be made up of between four and five surfers (maximum five).

SUR 4.12 Normally the two surfers with the highest scores (note SUR 4.5) in each heat will advance, but this can be adjusted by the Contest Committee. For example, where conditions do not permit enough rounds for this to occur, the Contest Committee may use an alternative method such as taking through X number of surfers across all heats based on their scores as part of an overall ranking.

SUR 5 Team results

SUR 5.1 There will be a Men’s Team Championships and a Women’s Team Championships. A team comprises of three competitors of the same sex. The top three scoring competitors from the same institution/Playing Entity will make up the team by having their individual points earned added together to create a team score. By entering the individual event, competitors are automatically entered into the team competition (as long as they have three surfers of the same sex entered).

SUR 5.2 Competitors score points for the team competition by progressing through the rounds in the individual event. For example, for participating in round 1 but not making it through to round 2, competitors will receive one point for their team score. By being knocked out in round 2, competitors will receive two points. In the final, the 4th placed competitor will receive the number of points as equivalent to the round number, with the 3rd placed competitor receiving one more and so on. For example, if the final is the 5th round, the 4th placed competitor would receive five points, the 3rd placed competitor would then receive six points, 2nd would receive seven points and the winner would receive eight points towards their team score.

SUR 5.2.1 Competitors must sign in for their heat and enter the water to obtain team points for that round.

SUR 5.3 If there are two or more individuals from an institution/Playing Entity tied on points and this tie needs separating to work out who makes their top three, these individuals are compared in the last round they competed in using the following consecutive order: Finishing position in their heat (highest is better), if this is the same, their highest wave score in that heat.

SUR 5.4 If there is a tie on team scores, the tied institutions/Playing Entities are separated by looking at how far their top rider progressed. If they reached the same round, then their placing in their last heat will be considered. If they are still tied the same consecutive process is applied to their 2nd best surfer and then if required their 3rd.

SUR 5.5 The scoring system for the team competition may be adjusted by the Contest Committee, for example where conditions do not permit enough rounds for the normal system of SUR 5.2–SUR 5.4 to be appropriate.

SUR 6 Anyone who is guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct may be liable to disqualification at the discretion of the Contest Committee.


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