Judging Criteria at the Surf Ranch Pro, Explained

Call me captain obvious, but the Surf Ranch Pro is unlike any other event in surfing.

Primarily because it’s the only Championship Tour event held in a wavepool. It’s a (subjectively) perfect wave, and each surfer will have the opportunity to showcase their surfing on the basically same canvas. Yeah, very different from the ocean.

And so, the judging criteria needs to change a bit. But how so?

“To help add clarity and perspective to the scoring and priority, former Head Judge Richie Porta shares his decades of experience and breaks down what may be happening in the judges' tower,” the WSL captioned the above video.

As the WSL often explains, the judging criteria changes from Tour stop to Tour stop, and from day to day depending on conditions. That means, what the judges are looking for, and what will garner big scores, is changing constantly, too.

But at the Surf Ranch, things are a little different, a little more straightforward.

According to Richie:

“It's a chance for the surfers to display how good a surfer they are. The waves are perfect. If you make an error, they will crucify you. There’s no point in the surfers chasing 5s and 6s and 7s. That’s not gonna cut it. You’re not going to get lucky in a heat out here. You have to be chasing those 8s and 9s to get through and make it to the final. That’s what’s required at this venue.”

Richie goes on to breakdown two highscoring waves from Carissa Moore and Filipe Toledo, both former winners of the event. He touches on the nuances of the waves – the variety in turns, the tube time, the maximization of each section.

Richie continues:

“The key to the Surf Ranch, what the judges will be looking for, is variety, power surfing, no mistakes, and utilizing all those sections. And disappearing in the barrel. They don’t wanna see half your board and your arm sticking out. They wanna not see you, when you’re that far in the barrel that you’re tucked in the back of it for as long as you can be. It is an incredible sight to behold.”

There’s a couple new names in the draw for the Surf Ranch Pro this year, a couple surfers who haven’t competed at the manmade wave before who could make a splash – pun absolutely, 100-percent intended. And so, things could get interesting.

The Surf Ranch Pro runs May 27th-28th.


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