Rules (2015)

[Total of 12 pages]

2015 World Surf Kayaking Championships Rules

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 the more important criteria.

  • The Different Categories (Long and Short Boats)

Short Boats: More emphasis will be put on big, more dynamic, manoeuvres than on long rides

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

Note that the longer the ride, the more potential time to score points, so the higher potential score, in both categories

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 manoeuvres 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 take offs 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


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



General Rules

The World Championships event will be held on alternate continents where possible.

Competitors must be current members of their National Governing Body and have full competition insurance.

Competitors should have filled in an entry form and paid all fees no later than the closing date for entries. (Usually 1 month before the competition) (Any exceptions to this policy will be determined by the host country.)

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.

Host Venue will provide safety rescue coverage. All competitors must attend the initial safety talk, and be aware of rescue policies.

Host countries and the WSKA will provide, to the best of their ability, professional judges.

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

It will need to be up to approval level in every surfed heat or the competitor will be disqualified from that heat.

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 colour 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.

No instruction is to be given to any paddler that is in a heat, this includes: No  radios, flags or any other way to mark set wave positions, hand signals etc. Sanctions can be given to the paddlers and / or the people signalling.

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

The host country may have additional requirements.


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 WSKA 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.


Team Event Competitors

The World Team Event will have the following Divisions and Number of People per Team:

Men’s Long Boat – 4 men + 2 Alternates

Women’s Long Boat – 2 women + 2 Alternates

Junior’s Long Boat- 1 junior + 2 Alternates

Master’s Long Boat – 1 master + 2 Alternates

Men’s Short Boat – 4 men + 2 Alternates

Women’s Short Boat – 2 women + 2 Alternates

Junior’s Short Boat – 1 junior + 2 Alternates

Master’s Short Boat – 1 master. + 2 Alternates

(Maximum number of Alternates: 4 men, 4 women, 4 juniors, and 4 masters)


Total number of team members: 16, plus up to 16 alternates.

Junior is defined as being 18 years of age or younger on December 31st of the competition year. (Not 19 in that year)

Master is defined as being 40 years or older on January 1 of the competition year as there is no Grandmaster class.


There is a minimum of 6 people (not slots) required to enter a team.


The criteria for being classed as a country, will be decided by WSKA, but will usually require that area to have its own, independent government.


There will be heats in the team event for women, juniors, masters and men competitors.

There will not be a Grandmaster category in the team event, (only in the Individual event). The Grandmasters will compete within the Masters category.

Competitors can only compete in a maximum of 2 categories in each draw.


In the team event:

Juniors must have different competitors for the long and short categories.

Masters must have different competitors for the long and short categories.

(Women can have the same Competitors)


If an alternate is substituted after the heat seedings are announced, the person who is removed is no longer eligible to surf in the team contest.  If a person is substituted before the draw is made, however, he is eligible to surf in the team contest at a later date.


International Qualification; A person is eligible to represent either the country of their birth, the country of birth of either parent, or the country in which they have resided for in, for at least the past 3 years


A competitor must not change from one country to another during one year. To change countries they compete for, they must either:

  1. Have 3 years not competing (If surfed for team A in 2013, they can surf for team B in 2017).
  2. Both team managers involved must agree with the change.



Individual Event Competitors

There will be heats in the individual event for women, juniors, masters, grand masters and men competitors.

Definition of the Masters and Grandmasters classes:

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.

A World Individual ranking list will be calculated after each world championship, and used for seeding, when drawing up the rounds for the next World Championship individual classes.

To qualify for entry to the individual competition, competitors must either; have competed in world championships before, be paddling in the team event or have been on their countries ranking list (evidence required).

In the individual event, competitors can only compete in a maximum of 2 categories unless the organiser decides they have space for extra paddlers.

The competition organiser 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.

No sharp Edges: The design of the kayak (and the material it is manufactured from) shall not allow any sharp edges that could cause injury to other paddlers or people in the water as a result of a collision. The exception is the fins, but they must still be made of a suitable material that reduces injury (i.e. not made of metal)

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)

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. Your country’s governing body must approve PFD’s and Impact vests. 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).

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

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.

The kayak will be moved around buy the paddler using a paddle as a means for propulsion and steering. No other equipment maybe used. This prohibits the use of motors, propellers, rudders, foot pedals etc. to propel or manoeuvre the kayak.

Boat Length:

Long Boat:  3m (118”) or longer as measured in a horizontal plane.

Short Boat:  2.75m (108¼”) 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.


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.


Additional rules for Organisers / Team Managers on How the competition runs

The Contest

The date of the contest will be announced at least 18months before the contest and will preferably not be in exam term time (May and June)

The contest usually runs over 10days, with 2 days given as spares in case or lack of surf etc.

Heats are usually between 13 and 20 minutes

An expression session as an additional competition will usually run at the start of the competition. This can be used to test out the judging systems before the main event. But is event is mainly there to give extra competition time to the competitors and as a way to show off the latest big manoeuvres to the public.

The Team Event

The running order of the team event will always end with a men’s class not a juniors or ladies class

The 2nd round of the team event will run in a reverse order to the 1st round

Before the team event starts, every countries team paddlers list will be given out to all of the countries managers (the original entry form list) including the alternates. This is so all the teams know who is in which team and no illegal moving of team paddlers can happen.

Each team must bring a large flag to be given to the organisers. This will then be displayed at the official functions.

Heats are scored so lowest score wins

For each heat, points are awarded for positions (1 for 1st, 2 for 2nd etc.) a competitor must surf a wave (and so get a wave score) to get position points. No wave or a no show will score one more point than last place. Example A: 5 paddlers, in a heat. 1 paddler is missing, so they score 6 points. Example B: 5 paddlers in a heat, 1 paddlers stays on beach, 1 paddler going in water but doesn’t catch a wave, 3 paddlers surf. Paddler on beach scores 6, paddler with no wave scores 6. Other paddlers get 1,2 or 3 points

The Individual Event

In the individual event, all paddlers will get at least 2 paddles in each class, this is either with a 2 round system or with reps.


Committee rules

Choosing the next world championship venue:

  • Any country can put forward a proposal, this will need to follow the WSKA guideline document.
  • The proposal needs to be given to the WKSA 2 weeks before the start of the previous world championships.
  • At the competition, a representative will need to give a presentation to the paddlers and committee.
  • A few days later the committee and the country reps will discuss the proposals, and the country reps will vote on the chosen venue for the next championships.


Other rule changes:

Any proposals for changes to how the competition runs, rule changes etc. these will need to be sent to the committee 2 weeks before the start of the competition. They will be discussed at a meeting of the paddlers and by the committee and country representatives. Then voted on by the country representatives.

There will be a meeting at the world championships to discuss any proposals, the committee and the next world championship proposals.

Country Reps

These reps will vote on any important decisions the WSKA want to make.

The countries that get to have a vote are:

Any county that entered in the team event in the last 3 world championships (or the Current competition and 2 before)

(So in since the Australian competition in 2013, and country that entered a team at the Portugal, USA East or Australian worlds)

These countries need to give the committee their country rep. (WSKA won’t chase the country)

When a decision is need to be made, these reps will vote on the outcome, and will be given 2 weeks maximum to discuss with their country if required.

The vote will be on a scale, so not all countries will have the same amount of votes.

This is yet to be finalised

The deciding vote will be cast by the chairman if required.

Please note: the only official version of the rules is this English version. This is to stop any anomalies or confusion, where people have used translation software or other means to translate this document.

[Written by P Blenkinsop, in conjunction with WSKA, for the WSKA]


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