An Op-Ed piece by Aqua Surf Shop reporter Merle.
After a long frustrating paddle out the other day to surf lackluster waves (big surprise), it got me really thinking about the upcoming contest at The Beach. I mean these are world class athletes, but a lot of times The Beach gives you only a couple of waves in a two hour session. Besides being ripped all the way down The Beach only to have a 20 minute walk home, and your privates royally chafed from walking in your full-suit. All the questions I've been overhearing in the shop like, "What do you think about the contest?"; "How are they going to get enough scoring waves in a 20 minute heat?"; "What if the current rips competitors out of the contest area?"
Finally I got inspired to log on to the official contest rules website, for some real information- and low and behold, I found out the competitors will actually have their scores influenced by what 90% of our local surfing is anyways- PADDLING
Check it- from the "Official Rules Site".
With a number of enhancements being activated on the ASP World Tour this season, the ASP Judging Criteria has been refined to reflect the moods of each uniquely different surf spot on the tour and how each competitor shows progression and synchronicity with each break's strengths. For example: Tahiti is known for its hollow barrels, therefore barrel rides would constitute the central judging criteria. Ocean Beach San Francisco is notoriously famous for its fierce currents and challenging paddle outs, therefore competitors whom show progressive talent in this skill can expect to see potentially crucial dividends paid to their individual wave scores during the heat.
The Ocean Beach SF Judging Criteria for 2011 is as follows:
Surfers must perform to the ASP Judging Key paddling elements to maximize their scoring potential.
*Judges will analyze the following major[criteria] when scoring waves:
-Innovative and Progressive paddling Maneuvers- That show experience in working with and around the current instead of fighting against it.
-Commitment and Tenacity- Even though judges want to see competitors flow instead of fight the current, they are also realistic about Ocean Beach's currents and will reward competitors for both paddling physically at 100% while also maintaining a 100% positive mental outlook ("YES, I will make it to the outside!").
-Combination of duck-diving Maneuvers- Judges expect to see flowing duck dives at varying depths that show positive momentum once the surfer has breached. Mixing up knee with foot duck-dives or other tricks that show accomplishment in this unappreciated art.
-Balancing the length of the ride with the amount of difficulty it will take to get back out- Was it worth the beating to get back out to take that massive floater on the inside? vs. Yes, that was a nice bottom turn and hack but two turns and out...really? Commitment along these lines will be recognized as taking courage and showing strength.
-Staying inside of the designated contest area- Surfers will be docked points form their final score if they allow themselves to be taken out of the designated contest area by the current, and will be rewarded points if they appear (through hard paddling negotiations) to be unaffected by any currents and stay in one general area.
* It is important to note that the points will not be docked for victorious double armed claims once the surfer has finally succeeded on making it out, but do try to keep it classy! Minor style points will be rewarded for making the trying paddle look easy. Minor points will again be awarded in the case of an extremely rare dry hair paddle out- no style points for this however, as nobody likes seeing dry hair in the lineup.
*Also rewarded is innovative and committed kick-outs- A wild arms and legs akimbo kick-out is a crowd pleaser at any surf event and here at OB it will place competitors at a significant advantage over those who take the alternate quick escape off the back route.
So this all really makes sense now, and it seems the ASP and Rip Curl really understands what makes The Beach so special and will reward competitors accordingly. I really look forward to seeing whom the best paddler on the Dream Tour is! I'll see you all on The Beach.
Aim all your shakas high!
Illustration by Merle's buddy Petro