Eastern Surfing Association Rules of Competition

Effective Date: January 1, 2021

  1. EVENTS (Easterns®, Regionals, and District Events)

    1. Age division events, determined by date of birth as of January 1 of the year of the Easterns® (PROOF OF AGE REQUIRED). For example, ages for District and Regional events to qualify for the 2022 Easterns® shall be determined by age as of January 1, 2022.

      • Boys U12 (11 & Under)

      • Boys U14 (13 & Under)

      • Boys U16 (15 & Under) (U12 Excluded)

      • Junior Men U18 (17 & Under) (U12 & U14 Excluded)

      • Men (18-29)

      • Masters (30-39)

      • Senior Men (40-49)

      • Legends (50 & Over)

      • Grand Legends (60 & Over, M/F)

      • Girls U12 (11 & Under)

      • Girls U14 (13 & Under)

      • Girls U16 (15 & Under) (U12 Excluded)

      • Junior Women U18 (17 & Under) (U12 & U14 Excluded)

      • Women (18-39)

      • Ladies (40 & Over)

      • Menehune Longboard U14 (13 & Under, M/F)

      • Junior Longboard U18 (17 & Under)

      • Mens Longboard (18-39)

      • Legends Longboard (40 & Over)

      • Grand Legends Longboard (60 & Over, M/F)

      • Jr. Womens Longboard U18 (17 & Under)

      • Womens Longboard (18-39)

      • Ladies Longboard (40 & Over)

      • Open Shortboard (All Ages, M/F)

      • Open Longboard (All Ages, M/F)

      • Open Bodyboard (All Ages, M/F)

      • Open SUP division (All Ages, M/F, Stand-Up Paddleboard competitors must use a paddle)

      (Revised 9/13/14). (Revised 12/11/17). (Revised 12/06/19). (Revised 01/01/21).


      All “Youth” division competitors will only be permitted to “surf up” a maximum of one “Youth” division above the competitor’s regular age division.

      (Revised 12/06/19). (Revised 01/01/21).

      Surfers in Ladies (40 & Over) and Legends (50 & Over) may elect to remain in their respective divisions upon reaching age 60 rather than enter Grand Legends Division, but may not compete in both Ladies and Grand Legends or Legends and Grand Legends.

      (Revised 9/13/14). (Revised 12/06/19).

      Surfers in Ladies Longboard (40 & Over) and Legends Longboard (40 & Over) may elect to remain in their respective divisions upon reaching age 60 rather than enter Grand Legends Longboard Division, but may not compete in both Ladies Longboard and Grand Legends Longboard or Legends Longboard and Grand Legends Longboard.

      (Revised 12/11/17). (Revised 12/06/19).


      Districts may also conduct additional specialty events at District competitions which shall not be eligible for post season championship competition; e.g., “Push-N-Go” (age 11 and under with assistance), etc.

      Push-N-Go (11 & Under, M/F) “Push-N-Go” division is limited to competitors who cannot yet catch waves without assistance. “Push-N-Go” division allows each competitor to have a person in the water to assist them in catching waves. When competitors are able to catch waves without assistance, and/or wish to compete in Boys U12 or Girls U12, they may no longer compete in “Push-N-Go” division. Note: Competitors in “Push-N-Go” division are not eligible for post season competition (ie: Regionals and Easterns®).

      (Revised 01/01/21).

      4 Person Shortboard Tag team or variation thereof may include one longboarder, who shall go first.

    2. EASTERN SURFING CHAMPIONSHIPS, (Referred to herein as “”Easterns®”)



      1. All ages are determined as of January 1st of the year of the Easterns®. Every competitor must have competed in his or her respective ESA Regional in order to be eligible for an invitation/slot for the Easterns®. “No-shows” at a Regional championship event forfeit the right to obtain an invitation/slot to Easterns®. Any request for a waiver from these rules must be in writing and sent to the Regional Director and/or Competition Director who may issue a waiver for good cause shown. No review shall be granted otherwise. Competitors may surf in multiple divisions provided they meet the age and gender requirements. For example, females under 14 may compete in Jr. Womens Longboard and Menehune Longboard, and females under 12 may compete in Menehune, Girls and Open Shortboard. Females under 14 who compete in both Jr. Womens Longboard and Menehune Longboard must use the proper equipment for each division (i.e., 3 feet over the competitor’s head in Menehune Longboard and minimum of 9 ft. in length in Jr. Womens Longboard). (Revised 8/23/13) (Revised 9/17/16)


        Note: Competitors are encouraged to compete and earn points in as many district events as possible in order to increase their chance of receiving a slot or an alternate slot to Regionals. Competitors will be ranked according to their district season point totals in each division, and Regionals slots available to each district will be offered (highest to lowest) according to that ranking. (Revised 9/16/17)

        In order to receive an invitation to Regionals a competitor must:

        1. be an ESA member in good standing,

        2. have competed and accrued competition points in Regionals eligible divisions held by their District in that division, and (Revised 9/16/17)

        3. have amassed the points necessary in Regionals eligible divisions, to be within the ‘slot distribution’ for the District, which is based on membership per division, per District, or failing that,

        4. have met ‘a’ and ‘b’ above in order to receive an alternate invitation.

          All competitors who meet these requirements are eligible for Regional competition. Any request for a waiver from these rules must be in writing and sent to the Regional Director and/or Competition Director who may issue a waiver for good cause shown. No review shall be granted otherwise. No competitor shall be passed over in ranking in favor of another competitor, either for invitation purposes or slotting.

          In the event a competitor has joined and competed in multiple Districts and receives multiple Regionals invitations in one or more divisions, whether from multiple Districts in a Region or multiple districts in more than one Region, the competitor must declare a single “home” District for Regionals competition for all divisions in which they are Regionals eligible; i.e., a competitor may not represent one District in one division and another District in another division at the Regionals level. (Revised 8/23/13).

      3. Regionals and EASTERNS® Slot Allocations and Slotting of Athletes and Alternates-

        District slots for Regionals should be allocated proportionally based on each District’s membership count in each division as of January 1 of the year in which the Regionals are held. The Contest Director shall have the right to expand or compress the Regionals where deemed necessary but in no event shall compression of a division eliminate a slot for which an entry has been received or earned. Regional slots in a division shall be ranked largest District to smallest as well as District ranking on an individual basis in descending order. Easterns® slots shall be determined based on largest region to smallest as well as regional ranking on an individual basis. Slotting of alternates at Regionals and the Easterns® shall be allocated on the same basis.

        (Revised 9/17/16)

      4. Any competitor arriving late for their heat may compete in the remainder of their heat, if there is an opening. If a competitor misses their 1st round heat, their name will be placed at the bottom of the alternate list for the 1st round. There will be no refunds of entry fees for missed heats. This includes any competitor who did not withdraw by 5 pm the day before the event. It is the responsibility of all competitors, to advise their director or Contest Director of their intention to withdraw. For Easterns® and Regionals events, an alternate list will be kept by the Contest Director and shall include the competitor’s name, division and rating. Their refundable entry fee must be paid in full for their name to be placed on the alternate list. Beach entries are not permissible.

  2. EQUIPMENT All boards are measured from end to end, bottom of the board, using a properly calibrated tape measure. Longboards must be measured at all Regionals and Easterns® events before use in a heat. If a measurement of an individual board by the Contest Director is otherwise called for, such measurement shall be done in a private and secure area as possible. Notwithstanding the foregoing,

    the Contest Director can elect that all boards used in a division be subject to measurement before being used in a heat.

    1. In Shortboard age division events, surfboards will not exceed 2 ft. longer than the competitor’s height. (Revised 12/11/17).

    2. Longboards must be a minimum of 9 ft. in length in Open Longboard, Junior Longboard, Mens Longboard, Legends Longboard, Grand Legends Longboard, Junior Womens Longboard, Womens Longboard and Ladies Longboard divisions. In the Menehune Longboard division boards must be a minimum of 3 feet over the competitor’s head. Females under 14 who compete in both Menehune Longboard and Junior Womens Longboard must use the proper equipment for each division (i.e., 3 feet over the competitor’s head in Menehune Longboard and a minimum of 9 ft. in length in Junior Womens Longboard).

      (Revised 12/11/17). (Revised 12/06/19).

    3. Bodyboards shall not exceed 46 in length, be flexible, and shall include some portion of soft exterior skin. The use of fins is optional.

    4. Additional equipment, such as leashes and helmets may be used.

      If found using incorrect board size, surfer stops at the competition ranking that has been achieved in that specific division at such time.


    1. The subjective judging system will be used (0-10 points using .1 {one-tenth} integrals) and there will be an active judging panel of one head judge and five scoring judges. A judging panel of 3 scoring judges may be used, if the Competition Director determines in good faith that circumstances warrant the use of a three (3) judge panel or panels.

    2. When judging shortboard and longboard surfing, a ride will begin to be scored when a surfer’s hands leave the rails of their surfboard. When judging body boarding, there is no limitation as to body position on the board and the ride will be scored after the head judge designates the body boarder has caught the wave and executed a maneuver.

      For Stand-Up Paddle Surfing (SUP) a ride shall have been deemed to have begun when, in the opinion of judges, the rider is no longer solely under paddle power but rather has harnessed and begun to be carried along by the power of the wave.

      All rides must commence within the designated competition area in order to be scored. Competitors that continue a ride beyond the competition area risk that the balance of their ride might not be scored as it is the responsibility of the judges to focus on competitors in the designated competition area.

    3. The first of the two sirens must blow immediately when the commentator or timer reaches zero. The official end of the heat is when the siren is first audible to the Head Judge, who will

      indicate to the judges that no more rides are to be scored for that heat. The siren takes precedence over the disc.

      -Definition of Disc: 3 feet wide, with green on one side, and yellow on the other side.

      -Definition of Flags: 3 flags, one green, one yellow and one red.

      Use: Green: Heat is in progress. Yellow: Used to show 5 minutes remaining in a heat or heat is inside the 5-minute warning. Red (or “no-flag/disc”): heat has been stopped or end of heat.

    4. Judging Criteria

      1. Shortboard Surfing

        A surfer must perform radical controlled maneuvers in the critical sections of a wave with speed, power and flow. Innovative/progressive surfing as well as a combination and variety of repertoire of major maneuvers will be taken into account when rewarding points for a surfers’ performance. The surfer who executes the criteria above exhibiting the maximum degree of difficulty and commitment on the waves shall maximize his/her scoring potential.

      2. Longboard Surfing

        A surfer must perform radical controlled maneuvers in the critical sections of a wave with speed, power and flow. Innovative/progressive surfing as well as the combination and variety of repertoire of major maneuvers will be taken into consideration when rewarding points for a surfer’s performance. The surfer who performs to the criteria above, exhibiting the maximum degree of difficulty and commitment on the waves shall maximize his/her scoring potential.

      3. Bodyboarding

        A rider must perform radical controlled maneuvers in the critical section(s) of a wave with speed, power and flow to maximize their scoring potential. Innovative/technical riding as well as variety of repertoire (maneuvers) and single major maneuvers will be taken into account when rewarding points for waves ridden. The rider who meets these criteria and executes maneuvers with the maximum degree of difficulty and commitment on their waves shall be rewarded with the highest scores.

        Length of ride and numbers of maneuvers performed while not directly a part of the criteria may be aspects that influence scoring potential. If the competition break is a very long wave that produces several critical sections of comparable size or quality over a long distance, it will provide riders with the opportunity to complete more than one major maneuver that has a high degree of difficulty. No matter how many maneuvers are done on a wave, it is important to remember that only those with a high degree of difficulty done in critical sections are contributing to the majority of the rider’s overall score.

      4. Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) Surfing

        A surfer must demonstrate board handling skills in the transition phase and the surfing

        phase of their performance for it to be considered complete. A surfer must perform radical controlled maneuvers, using the paddle as a key tool, in the critical sections of a wave with speed, power and flow to maximize scoring potential. Innovative/progressive surfing as well as variety of repertoire (maneuvers), wave negotiation and use of the paddle to increase the intensity of the maneuvers, will all be taken into account when awarding points for SUP surfing. The SUP surfer who executes these criteria with the maximum degree of difficulty and commitment on the waves will be rewarded with the higher scores.

    5. The HEAD JUDGE shall be responsible for:

      • Determining which riders and rides are to be scored

      • Determining wave possession & priority

      • Maintaining an accurate wave count

      • Notifying judges of missed rides

      • Assisting judges in making accurate scores for the missed rides.

      The Head Judge cannot dictate scores but may give a range to his panel. The Head Judge’s role is not to determine the scoring by judges, but rather to coach, mentor, supervise, control and coordinate. The Head Judge is there to ensure the smooth running of each heat.

      The Head Judge cannot call interference or a paddling interference for a panel as a unit but can do so on his own wave count sheet. The Head Judge can call for the panel:

      a. up after the commencement of the next heat penalty

      All missed rides should be indicated by the letter “M” in the appropriate box to be averaged by the Head Judge according to the individual’s scoring scale (interpolation). This should be done at or before the end of the heat, as time allows. Judges, who are consistently missing rides, may be replaced.

    6. Wave counts to be used for tabulation of results will be the best 2 waves for preliminary and final heats. The Contest Director after consultation with the head judge shall determine the number of high waves per heat to be tabulated and this shall be posted and announced prior to the start of the contest.

      Note: - It is recommended that 2 scoring waves be used for both preliminary and finals unless special circumstances warrant a 3 wave-counting situation in a final.

      • Maximum waves that can be ridden are 10 in preliminary heats and 12 in a final.

      • Double elimination heats shall be 15 minutes in duration for each and every heat).

      1. It is a competitor’s responsibility to monitor the number of waves he has ridden. An attempt will be made to inform a competitor who has caught 9th/10th waves and 11th/12th waves (finals). However, The Contest Director is not obligated to inform a competitor that they are nearing, reaching or exceeding their wave limit. Once the wave maximum has been reached, the competitor must leave the water. In addition the surfer who remains in the water after catching the wave maximum will be penalized for interference if:

        1. He/she rides an extra wave that clearly deprives another competitor of an available ride

        2. He/she interferes with any other competitor by paddling, positioning or other inappropriate reason.

      Protests about no announcement or inability to hear an announcement about the maximum wave call will NOT be accepted. It is strictly the competitor’s responsibility to monitor their wave count.

      Upon receipt of the completed judges’ sheets, the tabulators will immediately check to see if:

      1. All judges’ sheets have been turned in.

      2. The correct number of waves has been scored on each sheet.

      3. Identify interference or other penalty calls, if any.

      If a ride has been missed, an attempt will be made to identify the missing rides by referring to the other judge’s sheets. If the ride is identified to the satisfaction of the head judge, a score will be given the missed ride by: AVERAGING THE MISSED WAVE ACCORDING TO THE SCORING LEVEL THAT THE JUDGE IN QUESTION USES (INTERPOLATION).

      Upon completion of these procedures, the judge’s sheets may be totaled. The scoring waves shall be circled, totaled, and interference penalties deducted. The total shall be placed in the total column. The heat places are then calculated and entered on the judge’s sheet. The competitor with the highest score will receive one point, the second highest will receive two points and so on. If a judge ties two or more competitors, the points awarded to each of the tied competitors will be the average of the affected placing points added together. EXAMPLE: If 2nd, 3rd and 4th are tied, add 2, 3, and 4 together and divide by 3 = 3 points for each tied competitor.

      NOTE: The head judge, along with a majority will determine the “official” wave count. When no further calculations are required on the judge’s sheets, the results are transcribed on the tally sheet, which is completed in the following manner:

      1. The competitor’s names are entered.

      2. The judge’s names are completed

      3. Places are copied in a row next to each judge.

      4. The high and low scores are crossed out for each competitor.

      5. Total the places that remain and enter.

      6. The competitor who receives the lowest point total in the final point column places 1st and so on.

        If, at this point, a tie situation occurs, the tabulator will proceed to break the tie as follows:

        1. Compare the relative position of the tied competitor’s on the tabulator sheet using the plus/minus system. If not broken, then see #2.

        2. Tabulate the one highest wave on the TIED judge’s sheet ONLY.

        3. Go to the third, fourth, etc. until all waves are exhausted

      If the tie is not broken by these methods, go back to #2 and repeat for ALL judge’s sheets. Go to #3, #4, etc. In the case of three or more athletes tied, repeat this procedure with the goal of deriving one individual who will be the highest placing tied athlete. Find the top two surfers and then top one of those. Once the ‘bottom’ individual has therefore been eliminated from the procedure, repeat the formulae for the remaining athletes until a clear order of finish for the heat is obtained. If the tie is still not broken by these methods, there will be a ten-minute surf off (top 2 waves) if one or more of the competitors could advance.

    7. Computer Scoring using Computer Scoring System

      The procedure for calculation of the final surfer wave scores using the contest computer system is as follows:

      1. The judge with the higher score and the judge with the lower score for each wave will be deleted. The average of the other three judge’s scores (in a 5 judge panel) will be the "wave score average".

      2. The sum of the wave score average for the two best scoring waves of each surfer will decide the heat places.

      3. In the case of a Tie for a place(s): In the case of ties in the sum of the best two waves the tie will be broken as follows (applied only to the surfers directly involved in the tie):

        1. Consider just "the wave score average" for the ONE best wave. If the tie persists,

        2. Consider the "total of the wave score averages" for the THREE best waves. If the tie persists,

        3. Consider the "total of the wave score averages" for the FOUR best waves, and continue this procedure until the tie is broken.

      NOTE : In the case of ties and interferences where the computer has corrected down to TWO decimal points in numbers with more than TWO decimals (i.e. : 3,335 = 3,34 , or 3,666666666 = 3,67) and this arrangement results in potentially different places to that using extended decimal calculations, the computer correction to two decimal places will be taken as the official score.

      Penalties for interference, exceeding the maximum wave count, etc., shall be imposed as set out in the ESA Competition Rules.

      If the computer system is being used and breaks down, the Head Judge and/or the Contest Director may choose to switch to the manual tabulations described in Section G.

    8. Competitors may check the results for errors for each heat up to fifteen minutes after those results are posted and made public. This applies to all heats, including finals. If a competitor in a final, suspects that a penalty call has been made and they are involved in same, then he/she may request the contest director review the results of the heat and take the appropriate action. If an error is found, the contest director should be notified to have the error corrected. Unless there is an unresolved protest, all results become final after the fifteen-minute time period.


    1. Interference Rule. The surfer deemed to have inside position for a wave has unconditional right of way (ROW) 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 hindered the scoring potential of that surfer deemed to have right of way.

    2. Wave Possession.

      1. Point Break (single direction wave): The inside surfer has unconditional ROW 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 ROW in the direction they choose by making an obvious turn. A second surfer may surf in the opposite direction. The surfers may not cross paths to gain the opposite side of the peak unless, in the majority of the judges’ opinion, they do so without hindering the scoring potential of the inside surfer.

      3. Beach Break (multiple random peaks): Two separate peaks that eventually meet; the first surfer to their feet has unconditional ROW. If two surfers stand up at the same time, then:

        1. If they both give way by cutting back or kicking out, so that neither is hindered, there will be no penalty.

        2. If they cross paths, collide or hinder on another, the judges will penalize the surfer who has been the aggressor at the point of contact.

        3. 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.

      4. Snaking.

        1. The surfer who is farthest inside at the initial point of take-off and has established wave possession is entitled to that wave for the duration of their ride, even though another surfer may subsequently take-off behind them. The judges will not penalize the surfer because they have right of way, even though they are in front.

        2. If the second surfer has not hindered the original surfer with right of way, the judges may choose not to penalize them and will score both surfers’ rides.

        3. If, in the opinion of the judges, the second surfer has interfered with (snaked) the original surfer with right of way by causing them to out or lose the wave, interference may be called on the second surfer, even though they were behind the first when the penalty was called.

        4. A surfer may not take off on the opposite side of a broken wave peak to gain possession of the opposite wave face when a surfer has already established wave possession/ROW of the inside of the opposite wave face. An interference will be called if the majority of judges feel that the surfer riding from behind the broken peak has hindered the scoring potential of the surfer who has established possession/ROW in that direction.

      5. Paddling Interference and Board Caddying. Another surfer paddling for the same wave should not excessively hinder a surfer who has inside position.

        Paddling interference may be called if:

        1. The offending surfer makes contact with or forces the inside surfer to change their line while paddling to catch the wave, causing 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 and causes loss of scoring potential of the surfer with right of way.

        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.

        4. Board caddying is not allowed. This includes leaving one’s board and having someone retrieve it for you for the specific purpose of assisting you in your heat. Retrieval of

          boards that are damaged is allowed as long as the board isn’t paddled, handed, carried or pushed to the competitor. The penalty for board caddying is automatic disqualification from the heat.

        5. Unsporting paddling tactics include, but will not be restricted to:

          1. Blocking the direct pathway of an opponent to the takeoff position by paddling across his line, other than by taking and holding the natural inside paddling position;

          2. Taking inside position and right of way with respect to a particular opponent, then intentionally aborting takeoff (twice for initial penalty and then each time thereafter);

          3. Blocking/hindering a direct/natural pathway of an opponent into the lineup from the beach paddle out position.

    3. Penalties

      1. If a judge thinks interference has taken place, the judge shall triangle the ride of the offending competitor and draw a line to the ride of the competitor who was interfered with and also circle that score. In the case of a paddling interference, the triangle shall be placed on the line between the appropriate rides for the offending competitor and filled with P. I. (no ride/no score) and the line still drawn and wave circled.

      2. A majority of judges, including the head judge, of the seated panel can rule interference. Under 2 best waves the interfering surfer will be penalized with a loss of 50% of his second best scoring ride. Under 3 best waves, the interfering surfers will be penalized with a loss of 50% of his 3rd best scoring ride. (Note: In almost all cases, the maximum number of scoring waves for heats and finals should be 2) If there is only 1 ride caught (2 best waves) then that wave shall lose 50% of its value.

      . IE: the lowest scoring wave will count in the final tally as a 50% score for the offending surfer. Further, the wave that the interference was called on by the majority of the judges will count in the final tally as a zero. In addition, all penalties applicable (paddling interference, etc.) will now follow this rule. IE: loss of half of the lowest scoring wave. If a surfer incurs another (2nd) interference penalty during the same heat his best wave score will be halved also.

      Where any surfer incurs two or more interference penalties they must immediately leave the competition area.

    4. The following actions are also prohibited actions and the following penalties will be applied:

      1. Exceeding wave limit- for the first wave ridden beyond the wave limit, the first interference penalty shall be applied and for the second wave ridden after the wave limit, the second interference penalty shall be imposed.

      2. Catching waves in the competition area after the commencement of the following heat: the first interference penalty shall be imposed.

      3. Competitors should wear the competition jersey provided by the Beach Marshall from the time it is issued until returned to the Beach Marshal at the completion of the heat or, if appropriate, during awards presentation. Competition jerseys should be returned promptly in a sportsmanlike manner to the Beach Marshall or Administration. All competition jerseys should be worn with the imprint clearly showing (must not be worn inside out). (Revised 9/16/17).

      4. Any competitor practicing in the competition area or demonstrating unsportsmanlike conduct shall be subject to disqualification from the event, loss of points earned in the event and possible suspension from subsequent ESA events.


    1. All competitors must report to the ready area 15 minutes prior to the start of their heat to be checked in and receive their instructions. When possible, the competition area will be defined by the use of flags, barriers, points, piers, jetty’s and/or buoys. If, in the event a competitor does not check in by the 5-minute warning, they will be replaced by the next highest ranked alternate. The “late” surfer goes to the bottom of the alternate list.

    2. All heats, except finals, will run 15 minutes. Finals will run 20 minutes except in 10 heat, man on man double elimination configuration where all 10 heats are finals and all are to be 15 minutes each.

      Administration’s time clock will be deemed the “official time,” regardless. A ‘buffer’ delay between heats ending and heats starting of no more than 5 seconds is highly recommended. This helps alleviate the possibility of an ’up after’ penalty.

    3. WATER STARTS - All heats will begin with the blast of the horn and/or the raising of the green flag or change of color of the competition ‘disc or sign’ to green. The raising of the yellow flag, or change to yellow on the disc/sign, will indicate the five-minute warning and an announcement shall be made to the contest area. At the five-minute warning, the next heat of competitors may start paddling to the designated standby area, being careful not to interfere with the heat in progress. When the horn sounds ending the heat in progress, the standby heat may paddle into the take-off zone, but not catch any waves until the horn sounds starting their heat.

      During and at the end of any heat the surfer must be clearly in possession of the wave on the wave face, making a movement to stand, his hands having left the rails (rail grabs excluded) for the wave to be scored. Surfers up before or after the start of their heat or the next heat will be penalized.

      BEACH STARTS - All competitors in the “on deck” heat will gather at the water’s edge anytime between the five minute warning for the “heat in progress” (raising of the yellow flag/change to yellow on the disc) and the start of their heat. The “heat in progress” will end with one horn blast. The “on deck” heat will begin with one horn blast and/or the raising of the green flag/change to green on the disc.

      BUOY START - In the instance of exceptionally large surf or an extremely long or difficult paddle to the lineup, a buoy technique may be employed with the competitors “on deck” using a marker buoy, located some distances from the lineup, instead of the water’s edge for a starting point for their heat. The flag, horn and timing system are the same used in other types of starts.

      All heats require competitors to paddle, ride prone, or on their knees, (WITH NO MANEUVERS), to the beach when the signal is given that their heat has ended. All heats end with a blast from the horn and the change of the flag to red/no color or ‘no color’ (disc), or to green to start the next heat when heats are run back to back with no interval between heats. In Regional, Easterns®, and major specialty events, the announcer shall give a countdown from 5 to zero to end the heat, and a countdown from 5

      to zero to commence the next heat. The foregoing procedure is also strongly recommended for all District events, but it is not mandatory.

      In the event of danger or a situation where the contest director determines the event must be stopped immediately, there shall be a blast from the horn and/or the red flag (or change in disc to ‘no color’) will be raised. All competitors must leave the water immediately under this condition. If a competitor starts a scoreable ride after their heat ends, they must return to the non-scoreable position before the start of the next heat or risk being penalized. If a heat is interrupted for any reason it will be stopped by the Head Judge and Contest Director. It will be resumed at the time it was stopped, and will run for its original period. The only exception will be if the Head Judge, in consultation with other qualified officials, feels that the entire heat should be rerun because no surfer had a clear advantage at the time of cancellation, or if altered conditions make it impossible for judges to keep to the same scale.

    4. The Contest Director, or their Acting Contest Director in their temporary absence, is the only person who can give an exact schedule of events. There will be no protest against incorrect information received from any other person at the contest. If however the Contest Director gives incorrect information and a surfer subsequently misses a heat then a re-surf of that heat may take place.

      Any competitor who starts surfing after the flag/disc is presented to start the following heat, will suffer an interference penalty on all judge’s sheets if a majority of the judges or the head judge individually calls it. Any competitor removing their competition jersey while still in the water may be subject to an interference penalty.

    5. A minimum of 50% of the surfers in a heat and round shall advance to the next round. In any “six man’ format, a minimum of 3 athletes shall advance in any heat that has at least 4 athletes in a heat. The exception to this would be a format where the final rounds are 4-man format.

    6. SPORTSMANSHIP CLAUSE: No official of an event, in any capacity, shall at any time be submitted to unsportsmanlike conduct in either word or deed. Any display of poor sportsmanship by either a competitor or, in the case of a minor, the competitor’s parent, shall be cause for automatic dismissal from the contest. This also applies to unsportsmanlike conduct directed to another competitor by any ESA competitor. Should the Contest Director determine that a display of poor sportsmanship or unsportsmanlike conduct is sufficiently severe or egregious, then the Contest Director can request a suspension or expulsion of that member from the ESA. Such request shall be directed to the Competition Director who shall have the right, for good cause shown, to issue a suspension or expulsion. Any appeal of such decision by the Competition Director shall be appealed to the Competition Board of Governors within ten (10) days after imposition of such penalty.

      I. Judges Duties and Responsibilities

      The Head Judge will post judging schedule each morning with heat schedule. Failure of any judge to fulfill his/her obligation will lead to immediate dismissal and forfeiture of any payment due. This would include, but not be limited to: tardiness, excessive low percentages, inability to score accurately, failure to consistently call interference calls, discussion outside panel of competitor’s scores, interference calls, quality of administration, and performance of the event. At a District contest judges represent the members equally as to age and equipment, on a Regional or Championship level they represent the members of the ESA as a whole, not individual Districts or regions. Each judge may be required to submit

      a reference sheet, a letter of recommendation, and sign a contract with the competition director and/or judging coordinator (head judge).

      It is recommended that judges selected to premier and post season competitions be the highest qualified experienced individuals that can be obtained by utilizing performance formulae based on previous experience, deportment, and adherence to the ESA competition rules, without regard to geographical location.


    1. IRON SURFER - To be eligible for the iron surfer award and individual must enter and compete in a minimum of three individual events. Tag Team does not count toward the Iron Surfer award. All other results will count toward total points. Regional and individual points will be awarded to all finalists in each division point values will be equal to the number of entries in the division. (i.e. first place in field of 36 would receive 36 points, second place 35 points, and so on).


    Easterns®, Regionals, ESA Specialty Events: All finalists shall receive awards/trophies ESA District Contests: While 50 percent of any finalist must receive awards, it shall be at the discretion of the contest director, and advertised to the membership prior to the event, whether each finalist shall receive a trophy/award.


    1. Complaints and protests by competitors shall be in writing and handed to the ESA Competition Director or Contest Director. as the case may be, before action can be taken. All written protests will be handled by the ESA Competition Director or Contest Director as the case may be and/or The HEAD JUDGE AND THEIR DECISION WILL BE FINAL, except as set forth in the next sentence. Disciplinary action taken against a Competitor or ESA Member that involves more than one (1) contest (for example: suspension for a period of time beyond a single contest or expulsion) may be appealed by the competitor or member to the Competition Board of Governors within ten (10) days after the imposition of such penalty. No judges are to be approached over a call or results or a penalty may be imposed on the individual concerned. Further, videotape or other recording medium presented by a competitor, their parent, spouse or guardian or any other party, WILL NOT be reviewed or otherwise taken into consideration in connection with any protest. No heat that involves a competitor whose advancement is under protest will take place prior to the resolution of the protest.


      Any ESA member in good standing, may compete free of membership obligation in any District in the ESA any number of times. No member of the ESA shall be denied this privilege of membership, regardless of the number of times the member wishes to surf ‘outside’ his/her home District.

      No points may be accrued for the division(s) surfed however, unless the member joins the District they are competing in. Further, no athlete may accrue points in their home District for competition in

      another District local event. Exception: Events that are held in conjunction with another District as part of each Districts ‘home’ season, and sanctioned by all Districts involved.


      No points shall be credited for any event for any division that is not either an ESA regular District event or an event scheduled by the competition headquarters of the ESA. (e.g.: East Coast Scholastics, etc.)


      Every District in the ESA must conduct a minimum of 4 District events during a competition season. Each age division must be held a minimum of 4 times during each District competition season for members in that age division to be eligible for their respective divisions at Regionals and the Easterns®. Upon written request from the District Director, the Regional Director and/or Competition Director may issue a waiver from this requirement when circumstances prevent a District from running the minimum number of events in an age division or for other good cause shown. All age divisions are to be offered at each regularly scheduled District event. If all age divisions at a District event cannot be completed on the scheduled date(s), they may be rescheduled and/or completed at a later date. Districts may also schedule separate events for one of more age divisions (e.g., Open Shortboard, Open SUP, etc.), but only in addition to the minimum of 4 District events in all age divisions. If a District does not meet the required number of 4 competitions during a competition season, that District must apply in writing for a waiver to the Regional Director and/or Competition Director for its competitors to be eligible for post season competition. In the event a waiver is granted, competitors in that District may be eligible to receive an invitation to Regionals (according to the criteria set forth in Section I.B.).

      (Revised 8/23/13). (Revised 9/16 17).


      All contests shall be smoke-free in the administration/judging area at all times. Further, if there is a competitors tent provided for competitors, this area shall be smoke-free at all times as well.


    The ESA All Star Committee (the “AS Committee”), which is elected by the Board of Directors pursuant to the ESA Bylaws, shall adopt rules, standards and procedures for the selection of the ESA All-Star Team (the “Team”), the duties of Team members, the conduct and goals of the Team and its members, the duties and responsibilities of AS Committee members and shall use its best efforts to promote the Team and its members in the best interests of the Team, its members and the ESA. All Team members shall be treated equally and equitably by the AS Committee members provided they fulfill their responsibilities as Team members. AS Committee members shall recuse themselves regarding the consideration or selection of any child, relative or member of such Committee member’s family or household. Team rules, standards and procedures shall be revised and updated by the AS Committee as deemed necessary by the AS Committee or as circumstances require. The AS Committee shall use appropriate ESA media and ESA approved media to post and make public the rules, standards and procedures adopted by the AS Committee and shall promptly update such postings as necessary. The AS Committee shall also

    use appropriate ESA media and ESA approved media to promote the Team and its members and to inform the Board of Team selection deadlines and other pertinent information regarding the Team and its activities.

    (Revised 9/17/16)

  10. Guide for Degree of Difficulty and Definitions of Maneuvers

    1. Shortboard Maneuvers- Degree of Difficulty & Definitions

      The major maneuvers: Re-entries, cutbacks, floaters, carves, tube rides and aerials.

      The transitional & minor maneuvers: Minor examples of major maneuvers, mid-face turns, pump turns, speed turns and white-water turns.



      The beginning of a ride when the hands leave the rails and the surfer has made an attempt to stand. The take-off turn is from the time of hands leaving rail to the commencement of first maneuver to turn.

      Classification: Categorized by the nature of the wave and the point of entry in relation to each wave and the degree of control.


      1. Excellent (These occur rarely.):

        1. Tube/cover-up take-off with smooth transition to first maneuver.

        2. Free fall, very steep or late take-off with controlled transition into first maneuver.

      2. Average (most fall into this category):

        1. Take-off allows smooth transition into the first maneuver.

      3. Poor:

        1. Off-balance or leads to disruption of balance.

        2. Resulting in delay of transition to first maneuver.

        3. Too far out onto the shoulder of the wave.

      Major Maneuvers

      Major Maneuvers are the most outstanding or eye-catching maneuvers that most influence the judges’ score. They are listed below in descending order of degree of difficulty:

      1. Tube Ride:

        1. When the rider disappears behind the curtain of the breaking wave

        2. A clean entry and exit, how deep is the surfer, and the length of time in the tube will all measure the degree of difficulty.

        3. Maneuvers in the tube and as a stalling measure also have a bearing on the score. Crumbling tubes score less than dry tubes.

          Classification: Average to Excellent.

      2. Aerial:

        1. Major re-entry maneuvers that are projected past the lip line with or without rotation in the air.

        2. Each aerial varies in degrees of difficulty depending on height, rotation, use of hands on the board and clean landings.

          Classification: Average to Excellent

      3. Re-Entry:

        1. A top turn where the rider re-enters the wave face after contacting the lip or breaking white-water.

          Classification: Measured by steepness and size of the angle of ascent and/or descent. The most difficult re-entry is to go past vertical in ascent and/or to re- cross the path of the original vertical ascent when descending; in other words, in a figure eight direction or path.

      4. Cutback:

        1. Is a horizontal direction change of at least 130° in which the board reverses its original path so that it returns toward the breaking part of the wave; this type of maneuver usually precedes the rebound of the white-water.

          Classification: Poor to Very Good. The most difficult cutback is the roundhouse; this means that the surfer extends far out into the shoulder of the wave and with no loss of speed, return at 180° in a figure eight path into the breaking curl with a high rebound of the white-water.

      5. Power Slides:

        1. A power slide is generally performed after a re-entry or a carve, where the surfer pushes the surfboard, releasing the fins with control.

        2. The degree of difficulty is indicated by where the surfer performs the slide and how close to the critical section.

          Classification: Poor to Excellent

      6. Floater:

        1. This maneuver requires the board to be projected up onto the breaking white water or lip and to traverse the section horizontally before descending into the unbroken face.

        2. A special example is a tail slide floater, or a “Rock n Roll” floater, where the board descends tail first down the breaking wave while control is maintained. A free-fall from this position indicates a high degree of difficulty.

          Classification: Poor to Excellent

      7. Bottom Turn:

        1. A banking turn off the bottom of the wave used to generate vertical momentum and speed.

        2. This is not scored as a Major maneuver, but the bottom turn is absolutely crucial to the surfer performing maneuvers with a high degree of difficulty.

          Classification: Difficulty is determined by the angle of ascent and the vertical momentum achieved.

      8. Top Turn/Carve:

        1. A turn performed in the top one-third of the wave but does not extend into the lip of the wave as in a re-entry and does not reverse horizontal direction by more than 130°.

          Classification: Top turns/Carves of high degree of difficulty may be classified as major maneuvers. These maneuvers can also be preceded by a power tail slide.

          Minor Maneuvers

          Not in the category of major maneuvers but have some influence on scoring potential.

      9. Minor examples of Major Maneuvers:

        Classification: Either transitional or minor maneuvers, depending upon the degree of difficulty and their transition as functional maneuvers in the context of the wave as a whole.

      10. Foam Floater:

        1. A foam floater is a floater that covers the distance and originates and ends in the white-water.

        2. It enhances white-water riding potential as an alternative to groveling, trimming or hopping.

          Classification: Poor to Average

      11. Foam Turns:

        1. Foam turns are generally only a pleasing factor in poor surf conditions- as an alternative to riding straight or groveling.

          Classification: Poor to Average

      12. Fade:

        1. A motion after take-off that directs the board toward the curl before the bottom turn.

        2. The fade can be used to accentuate a bigger top turn or used as a stalling or waiting maneuver.

          Classification: Average

          Transitional Maneuvers

          Little influence on scoring potential

      13. Mid-face Turns:

        1. Minor direction changes, i.e. between 60° and 130° that have little influence on speed.

      14. Pump Turns:

        1. Pump turns are the un-weighting or hopping motion that generates forward momentum in a slow section of the wave.

        2. They lack the scoring potential of other turns because they maintain horizontal direction and don’t make a significant climbing or dropping direction change; i.e., less than 60°.

          1. Foam Pump Turns: Where the whole of the surfer’s board is visually behind the section of white-water on a horizontal plane.

          2. Face Pump Turns: Where any part of the surfer’s board is forward of the white-water into the face of the wave.

      15. Trim:

        Trimming is constant forward speed without apparent direction change that carries no scoring potential and may be detrimental to score if construed as a missed opportunity.

      16. Foam Trim or Groveling:

        Efforts, such as hopping or wiggling, involved in maintaining momentum in the white- water, this carries no scoring value. However, this can lead to other sections of the wave where the surfer may continue to ride the green face where scoring potential can be added.

      17. Stalling:

      A stall is a deliberate weight-shift to the rear of the board in order to slow its momentum. Inadvertent stalling can be classified as a mistake.

    2. Bodyboard Maneuvers- Degree of Difficulty and Definitions.

      (Listed in parenthesis from highest to lowest in degree of difficulty)

      1. Back flip (8)

        A flip back and over the rider’s shoulders landing backwards on the face and spinning back around to complete maneuver. The rider should do this maneuver off the lip in the pocket of the wave flipping cleanly out of the water.

      2. ARS (Air, Roll, Spin) (7)

        A combination of an El Rollo and a Forward 360 spin into one maneuver. The rider projects out and above the lip into a combination of a roll and spin. Although the 360 is preferably done out of the water, it is able to be finished after the rider lands on the face of the wave.

      3. Tube/barrel ride (5)

        A rider positions themselves under the pitching lip of a wave. Length and depth of ride should be considered when scoring this as a maneuver. Barrel rides should be scored as a good to excellent maneuver when a rider completes the maneuver by riding out of the barrel. Incomplete barrel rides should not be judged as a maneuver.

      4. Invert (5)

        This is where a rider projects their body up and out of the water and the bottom of their board faces the shore. As one starts to come back down, they twist back the same way they came from and land in front of the wave. The more tweaked out the board is, the stronger the maneuver.

      5. El Rollo (5)

        A complete roll using the rider’s speed and the lip of the wave in to project off of the wave and complete the maneuver

      6. Reverse 360 spin (4)

        A 360 degree spin down the face of the wave, using maximum speed and style to

        complete the spin.

      7. Cutback (3)

        Radical change of direction with maximum speed and style

      8. Forward 360 spin (3)

      A 360 degree spin up the face of the wave, using the maximum speed and style to

      complete the spin

      The body position on the board, whether it is prone, drop knee or standup does not influence the degree of difficulty, nor does it add to the overall score of the ride.

      These scores are basic scores; keep in mind that style counts as well as how clean the maneuver was performed and also the combination of maneuvers.

    3. Longboard Maneuvers- Degree of Difficulty and Definitions.

      1. The difference in accomplishment in nose rides greatly affects scoring potential, e.g., stretch or cheater fives as compared to real hang fives and hang tens. Classic nose rides are usually best when the walk to the nose is set up by a tail stall or directly in from the arc of a turn.

      2. Walking cleanly and precisely, foot-over-foot to the nose is obviously superior to shuffling forward and back.

      3. Re-entries and rebounds were all developed on boards over 9’ in length and are regarded as a traditional surfing maneuvers.

      4. Trick surfing is not to be taken into account in scoring the rides. While tricks require a high level of skill, there are not considered of functional value.

      5. Scoring potential is dependent upon how radical and controlled maneuvers are and the section of the wave that these maneuvers are performed on.

      6. Maneuvers are classified as major and minor, traditional or modern. The ability of the surfer to do a variety of maneuvers is extremely important to the overall bearing on the scores.

        Major Maneuvers

        Great influence on scoring potential.

        1. Hang Ten & Hang Five (Traditional)

        2. Walking foot-over-foot (Traditional)

        3. Re-entries (Traditional)

        4. Drop-knee Cutback (Traditional)

        5. Roundhouse Cutback (Modern)

        6. Floaters (Modern)

        7. Tubes (Traditional and Modern)

        8. Snaps (Modern)

        9. Radical Direction Changes (Modern)

          Minor Maneuvers

          Little influence on scoring potential.

          1. Cheater/Stretch Fives

          2. Shuffling Along the Board

          3. Top turns

          4. Fades

          5. Face Turns

          6. Cover-ups

          7. Re-bounds

          8. Spinners- 360’s (Tricks)

      7. The degree of commitment and the risk involved in performing close to the curl and in the first sections and critical sections of the wave will receive higher scores. A surfer does not automatically score high because of wave size or quality.

    4. SUP Maneuvers-Degree of Difficulty and Definitions.

  1. A surfer must demonstrate board handling skills in the transition phase (description below) and the surfing phase (description below) of their performance for it to be considered complete. A surfer must perform radical controlled maneuvers, using the paddle as a key tool, in the critical sections of a wave with speed, power and flow, to maximize scoring potential. Innovative/progressive surfing as well as variety of repertoire (maneuvers), wave negotiation and use of the paddle to increase the intensity of the maneuvers will all be taken into account when awarding points for SUP surfing.

  2. A good SUP transition phase (end of one wave to paddle –in to next one) should be spent standing and paddling with good technique and stable wave negotiation. Kneeling, lying or sitting while paddling, unless necessary for safety, is regarded as bad SUP form. To the best of the rider’s ability, he/she is expected to stand up on the board at all times throughout the heat, unless safety conditions dictate otherwise. Entry into the wave should be by paddling in the standing position to enable the maximum score.

  3. Average scores for all maneuvers will be allocated unless the paddle is used as a pivot or tool in maneuvers; then power, radical moves, critical sections and degree of difficulty are the deciding factors in awarding a higher score. The paddle is correctly used in SUP surfing to do three things: it is

    used in turns as a brace, a pivot, and a force multiplier. A surfer will be scored higher when he/she uses the paddle in some or all of these three ways to achieve sharper or more powerful turns. Tricks such as twirling or otherwise using the paddle in a non-functional manner will earn little or no extra score for the surfer.

  4. Because the paddle allows large SUP boards to be turned with high rates of speed and power, SUP surfing is deemed to be a performance centered branch of surfing, much like conventional shortboarding. Footwork, nose riding and style points will be scored, but this will be done in their relationship to the criteria of degree of difficulty and critical nature of wave positioning.