BLU 2015 Judging Guidelines for Competitors, Judges and Coaches.

British Longboard Union

Judging Guidelines for Competitors, Judges and Coaches.

The British Longboard aims to promote longboarding in all its forms for the youngest grommets through to the more seasoned Legends and Oaks. Although a principal part of the role of the BLU is to provide every opportunity for our athletes to compete at the highest possible level, we believe this is underpinned by an inclusive, supportive longboard community where all surfers can develop along their chosen pathway.

The British Longboard Union is extremely proud of the successes of its athletes past and present not only in the water but as our ambassadors across the world.

Ben Skinner

Ben Skinner

In order to continue the challenge at European and World level we need to embrace the changes that the International Surfing Association (ISA) have introduced to take effect from 1st January 2015. The World Surfing League (WSL) is following similar guidelines although the wording and format may not be the same.

To quote Glen Elliot, ISA Judging Advisor, “We are definitely looking at the traditional elements more so than in the recent past. Flow and smooth transitions from manoeuvre to manoeuvre is important as is, the use of the full length of the surfboard. Essentially shortboard surfing on a longboard will no longer be fully appreciated by the judges.”

Although the traditional elements are key in the new criteria, board specification has remained unchanged:

Longboard Specification 2015:

‘Length is a minimum of 9 feet from the tip of the nose, to the end of the tail in a straight horizontal line along its deck. The width dimensions to be a minimum aggregate of 47 inches. That is the total width at the widest point, plus the width 12 inches up from the tail and the width 12 inches back from the nose.’

However, it is my belief that a more traditional board with a volume that generates a natural momentum in trim will be at an advantage over a lighter board hunting pockets for speed.

ISA Longboard Judging Criteria 2015

(Bold type indicates extract from ISA 2015 Handbook)

‘The longboard surfer must perform controlled traditional manoeuvres with the highest degree of difficulty in the most critical sections of the wave to gain the highest score.’

  • The concept of modern manoeuvres have been removed.
  • Style, flow and visual appeal been given a higher tariff than to commitment
  • Arms are an aid to balance and no longer levers to accelerate rotation into and out of turns. Changes of direction come from the body core where ankles, knees and hips work together seamlessly.
  • Extended nose-rides are what the judges will be looking for: stalling, setting trim and cross-stepping with style and control, weight over the nose rather than multiple ‘dab fives’.
  • The critical sections of the wave has remained in the criteria so a surfer’s score would not be enhanced by riding a wave to the beach unless the critical sections continued to be available.
  • Riding white-water to the beach would NOT influence the score that the judges applied to the ride.
  • At this point I think it would be helpful to consider ‘traditional manoeuvres’. In the 60s (I was there!!) they fell into two categories: modern surfing and stunt surfing. Clearly the ISA and WSL are applying the former to their criteria.
  • Take Off

  • Trimming

  • Turns: Drop knee, cross step (reverse drop knee, stall)

  • Walking (cross stepping)

  • Nose ride (+ hang 5s / Hang10)

  • Getting off the wave (controlled exit): Pull-outs (bottom turn, Squatting Island, and Standing Island) Kick out.

  • Although the following (non-functional) manoeuvres have their place firmly in certain traditional events e.g. the 60s Stylemasters, run by the Hotdoggers LSC at Saunton they will not be fully appreciated by the judges on the BLU 2015 Tour:
  • Coffin rides

  • Spinners

  • Quasimodos

  • Crouches: Strauch, forward

  • Head dips

  • Head stands

  • Skeg first take-offs

Judges will reward the performance with reference to style and flow, visual appeal, commitment, variety of manoeuvres and use of the entire board, speed and power. Nose riding, trimming and footwork will be important elements in the Judges decision-making.’ 

NOTE: It’s important to note that the emphasis of certain elements is contingent upon the location and the conditions on the day, as well as changes of conditions during the day.

  • Variety highlights the need to present different types of manoeuvres on the one wave,
  • Combination refers to the choice of manoeuvres and the order they are done and also the mix chosen indicate the rider’s skill.
  • Speed, style and flow highlights the way the wave is presented and the manner in which the rider is able to link the moves together.
  • Cross stepping out of and into turns and nose rides, carving drop knee turns and extended nose rides with weight directly over the tip are all indications of the quality of style and flow in traditional surfing.’
  • Categories of Waves and scoring scale remains unchanged.

Categories of Waves

0.0–1.9 2.0–3.9 4.0–5.9 6.0–7.9 8.0–10.0
Poor Fair Average Good Excellent


  • Nose riding, trimming and rail surfing
  • Critical section of wave ·
  • Variety
  • Speed and power
  • Commitment
  • Control
  • Footwork


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