International Surfing Assoc SUP rules 7-10-08


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SUP section 14 7 08 rulebook08 update.doc

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3. Stand-up Paddle [SUP] Discipline:


  1. Introduction: SUP surfing is unique and can be done many ways but for competition it is important to set criteria’s that set it apart from just long boarding. The paddle is a tool and a big part of the sport therefore it is not just used to help catch a wave, but is necessary as a tool [aid] for riding the waves [similar to a Ski pole when skiing]. Too many times we see great longboarders just catching the wave using the paddle, then ripping into their maneuvers without using the paddle any further in any practical [beneficial to performance] way. Often it is just “held”.
  2. Judging Criteria: 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. 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.
  3. SUP Scoring Considerations
    1. The judging scale will be 10 points with normal ISA contest rules applying.
    2. The aggregate of the best rides will decide the final score for each surfer and interferences adjudicated according to the ISA Surfing Rulebook.
    3. Good SUP transition time [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 whilst paddling, unless necessary for safety is regarded as bad SUP form. Note the critical element: To the best of a rider’s ability he / she is expected to stand up on the board at all times throughout the heat, unless the situation of safety dictates otherwise.
    4. Entry into the wave should be by paddling in the standing position to enable the maximum score.
    5. Surfing – 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.
    6. Competitors will start from the beach unless instructed otherwise by the Contest Director.
    7. “Using the paddle”: The paddle is correctly used in SUP surfing to do three main things: it is used in turns as a brace, a pivot, and a force multiplier. A surfer will be scored higher when he uses the paddle in some or all of these three ways to achieve sharper or more powerful turns.

    8. Tricks such as twirling or otherwise using the paddle in a non-functional manner will earn little or no extra score for the surfer.

    9. Traditional long board surfing compared to progressive SUP surfing techniques: Because the paddle allows large SUP boards to be turned with high rates of speed and power, stand-up paddle surfing is deemed to be, at the competition level, 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.
    10. If a rider cannot sustain the standing position throughout the heat [in transition and surfing], this will be regarded in the same manner as improper use of the paddle and judges will only allocate average scores to his / her performances at best. This fact should be a mandatory part of the contestant’s pre-heat briefing.
  4. Officials Responsibility: As SUP is a new discipline of surfing in terms of competition, it is the responsibility of every Contest Director and Judge to promote the above ideas and criteria, to ensure all competitors develop a standard approach and understanding of what is expected from an elite performer in SUP.


  1. Race schedule: Organizer’s Responsibility.
    A race briefing for competitors is mandatory prior to each race. Within this briefing, course layout / description, event rules, safety issues and competitor questions will be covered.
  2. Race Age / Group Categories:
    These are flexible according to the event.
  3. Race Craft & Specifications:
    1. 12′6″ Class Board
      • Maximum length – 12′6″
      • Maximum width – 33 inches
      • Fixed Fin, no rudder
    2. 14′ Class Board
      • Maximum length – 14 feet
      • Maximum width – 30 inches
      • Minimum weight – 20 lbs [subject to review]
      • Fixed Fin, no rudder
    3. Open Class Board
      • Minimum length – 14 feet, 1 inch, up to any length?
      • Rudders allowed
  4. General Race Rules [All classes]:
    1. Single blade paddle to be used.
    2. Rider must be standing at all times while paddling
    3. Competitors must follow the designated set course, to be manned by water marshals and rescue staff.
    4. The nose of the craft is the designated point for crossing the finish line when determining relative placing.
    5. The finish and start lines must be designated by two buoys and legal competitors must have not crossed this line when the starter begins the race.
    6. No extraneous aids are allowed. This includes, but is not limited to swim fins, engines, wind catching devices [i.e.: sails, baggy clothing, etc] and personal support teams. No twin hulls allowed (i.e.: catamarans)
    7. Wetsuits and hats [sun protection] are permissible.
    8. Competitors may be required to have an official mark / race vest and / or race number on their arm, which must remain on the individual throughout the event. No competitor shall be recorded as a finisher unless carrying the official mark / wearing the official vest and number on their arm.
    9. Organizers reserve the right to accept, reject and cancel entries.
    10. Protests must be made in writing and given to the Race Director within fifteen minutes of the announcement of the provisional results. All decisions of the Race Director will be final.
    11. Race officials shall have the ultimate and final authority to remove a competitor from the race if the competitor is judged to be physically incapable of continuing the race without the risk of injury.
    12. Each entrant must sign the indemnity declaration on the Entry Form before the event. If under 18, the parent or guardian must sign.
    13. The organizers reserve the right to reject or cancel any entry.
  5. Race Types:
    Three types of events are common in SUP.

    1. Surfing performance events will be run to ISA rules.
    2. Point to point racing – short and marathon. Ocean and inland waters or a combination of both.
    3. Combination events – Usually held on one day with a surfing event in the morning and then a paddle [usually around 2KM] in the early afternoon. Places in each discipline are allocated points and winners are declared in both individual disciplines and overall. These combination events may require riders to use the same board in both disciplines. If so, boards are initialed by the Contest / Race Director.

    In surfing performance events there are no restrictions on equipment. All rules to conduct the event are ISA sanctioned and listed in the ISA Official rulebook.

    Risk management is a location by location issue for organizers. Racing rules are basic [above] and currently there are no set rules covering tactical /interference issues. Protests will be handled by the Contest / Racing Director based on actual interference and impeding progress, fairness and sportsmanship criteria.

4. Community Based Activities.

Surfing clubs of all disciplines from time to time may have the need to conduct mass surfboard “fun” paddle races [or participation activities] etc that could be used as club and charity fundraiser projects. General rules to control such activities can be drawn from the SUP racing rules section …….. of this rulebook.

AA.ISA: Edit July 10, 2008.

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1 Response to “International Surfing Assoc SUP rules 7-10-08”

  1. roberto 1roberto

    we would like to recive the rules about a board restrictions ( hull ) fo produce the boards.
    we are interessed to make a long board for long races.
    we don’t find any rules in Itntrenet.
    can you help me?
    thak you

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