CJ, Julian and an ASP head judge give their respective two cents on judging.
How do they do it? What’s worth more or is more difficult-- a tube or an air reverse? I’m talking about judging. It ain’t an easy career path, that’s for sure. But we love our champions, so they must be judged. But as for the great debate over airs vs barrels vs carves; which holds more weight?
Perhaps, those three maneuvers aren’t meant to be segregated or pitted against each other. If the contest is in crumbly, onshore beachbreak, you probably won’t be looking for tubes. And are the judges really scoring airs over turns, or tubes over finners? Is it that simple? They say the basis of the judging criteria comes down to “speed, power and flow,” but what does that actually mean?
According to a longtime WCT soldier like CJ Hobgood, it’s not just about those three moves, but rather what those moves evoke. “First of all, doing different things on different waves gives both the surfer and the spectator different feelings,” says Hobgood. “You’re not comparing the maneuvers, you’re comparing the feelings that those maneuvers give you. Judges are basically putting a number on those feelings.”
That’s interesting, because rather than a mathematical science, this idea of “feelings” seems so subjective and, well, human. But both judges and spectators can agree that they do love to be excited and furthermore surprised.
And how do you feel this way about a surfer on a wave? Variety. Combos and seamlessly linking airs with carves and so forth.
“Quality surfing,” says Julian Wilson, “is rail surfing mixed with fins free. You can’t just go do a jump or a forced air and expect to make it through your heat. You’ve got to be able to do turns as well-- and on the same wave.”
Says Hobgood, “Repetition is always easier, though not as exciting, and judges pick up on that. Airs, barrels and carves all have their place on certain days, and if you can fit them all in on one wave, then that might just be the best wave.”
Indeed. But if you can’t quite fit em all into one, here’s a few things you might want to know while turning or boosting.
3 Ways to Get the Score: According to Richie Porta ASP Intl. Head Judge
1) If you’re going to be out on the face, you have to hold your rail through your whole turn. Look at Taylor Knox’s turns-- just hold that rail.
2) If you’re going to hit the lip, you have to hit the lip and rotate hard out of it. There’s no point hitting the lip and then dropping down. The guys who drive right into the next turn, that’s what stands out.
3) If you’re doing an air, it’s got to be technically sound, in the critical section and get some good height. The high ones get the right scores.