Surf judges: no claiming, please

Judging waves in pro surfing contests is not an easy task. Error is part of human nature, and 100 percent accuracy in evaluating a surfer's performance is hard to achieve, if not technically impossible.

When you apply this reasoning to the analysis of thousands of rides on thousands of waves, the challenge becomes even greater.

To put things into perspective: how many waves do you think were surfed during the 2011 Pipeline Masters?

The answer is 490 - in 52 heats.

Thirty-four waves were rated at "Excellent" level; 44 in the "Good" range; 63 at "Regular," and 130 considered "Poor" rides.

Richard Porta, head judge of the Association of Surfing Professionals, explained to our friends at Surfer Magazine what the main variables are when judging a pro wave ride.

Want to be a pro surfing judge? Read up.

First of all, you have to kick off your career at the club level before moving on to regional, state, and then pro juniors events.

Once here, you can follow on to smaller Star events.

Later, if you're lucky and display evaluative competence, you could be ready for the Prime and World Tour stages.

No Shared Beers

Separating fields is an important rule to consider.

Because judges and surfers maintain a professional working relationship, there's no space for shared beers, cheers, or personal talks.

And let's not forget ocean knowledge.

It's important for judges to accurately analyze ocean conditions in order to call the day "on."

If it's okay to surf, the panel of judges decides how the waves should be ridden for competing surfers to get the maximum score.

A surfing criterion is set and communicated to the pro surfers.

If surf conditions change - because of the tide, wind, or swell - the early surfing criteria may also be changed, and surfers must adapt to the new rules and scales.

Finally, judges need to keep an eye out for potential shortcomings in the judging rubric and be open to fundamental changes in how judging proceeds.

Aerial surfing or classic flow surf lines may be setting new trends, so the group of judges should discuss what skills and tricks are given priority for a new world surf champion to be crowned fairly with clear reasons why he or she has won.

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