How to plan and organize a surf competition

Surfing competitions are quite complex sporting events that involve several variables and indirect aspects associated with the organization of a competition.

Unlike football / soccer and basketball, where teams compete for goals and points, surfing is an individual sport that requires judges to determine the winners.

Also, it depends on the will of Nature to start the event.

So, oddly enough, it can be more difficult to plan and organize a surfing competition compared to a soccer game where you only need two teams, one playable field, two goalposts and two goalposts and more. ‘a referee.

Difficult but not impossible.

Here’s how to plan, organize and run a simple surfing contest based on simple standard / official guidelines.

Ideally, start working on the next roadmap six to three months before your chosen mockup launch date.

Some of the following steps could be processed simultaneously:

1. Choose an event name

It’s not necessarily the most important thing, but you can kick things off with an inspirational contest name for the surf contest.

You can choose to feature the name of the place or region and optionally add some punchy and appealing phrases.

For example, the California Surf Classic, the Supertubes Invitational, the Tasmania Pro / Am or the Desert Point Open.

And if you manage to recruit a sponsor, just add the title of the event to maximize their investment.

2. Choose the location

The choice of the competition site is always mandatory when talking about a surf competition.

It could be your break at home or any place with consistent quality waves that you think will deliver the goods.

The worst thing you can do is select a site that pumps epic barrels only under specific, rare swell and wind conditions.

You can also consider the distance to populated areas and well-known surf towns or regions if you plan to attract spectators.

Access to the site and the period of detention are also important variables to analyze before making final decisions.

3. Establish a budget

Are you organizing your very first surf event?

You’ll probably need a few sponsors to cover the basics: legal clearances from local authorities, more or less sophisticated structure and scaffolding, lifeguards and a water safety team, a paramedic team, and cash prizes.

It might sound expensive, but you can easily get most of the above requirements from your town hall for free with a few good contacts.

Most municipalities are open to these initiatives and will be happy to support your efforts with materials and personnel.

It is also possible to organize an exciting surf competition at no cost.

However, you will need to come up with a plan to convince everyone to do their part and help you put it in place and make it work.

Surf competition: a judging tower or a private judges' area is compulsory |  Photo: WSL

4. Choose a winning team

A surfing competition requires human resources for the multiple tasks associated with running a water sports event.

So you could put together a team of volunteers to help you organize the contest. It could be your friends, family or members of the surf club.

So, make a list of people who could help organize a big event and assign tasks to each of them.

You will need a Range Steward, a Panel of Judges – ideally five, plus an additional Chief Judge – a Range Commentator and a Timing Disc System Manager.

Additionally, you may want to include a communications manager, reception manager, and beach cleaning crew.

5. Submit an authorization request

In almost all countries, private entities must submit requests for permission to organize events in public spaces.

The first thing you need to do is contact the local council and apply for the necessary conditions to get approval to hold your surfing contest.

Depending on the country and region, you will encounter more or less bureaucracy.

The authorities will provide you with a list of guidelines, regulations and procedures to follow and adopt to allow you to continue the showdown.

Most of them involve contingency plans, insurance policies, safety and risk assessment data, a map of the competition area, waste and environmental considerations and rescue plans in the water.

Surf contest: always an event challenge |  Photo: WSL

6. Design the format of the event

Once the formalities have been completed, you can decide to organize an open or invitation surfing competition.

If this is a closed event, all you need to do is list the surfers you want to invite, along with a series of alternative athletes who can replace guests who don’t show up.

Alternatively, you can open the competition to everyone and establish the ranking order.

If this is the case, athletes will need to register their interest, pay a registration fee and confirm their participation a few days / hours before the start of the competition.

In both competitive formats, you can accept recreational, amateur or professional surfers – it’s up to you to decide what type of surf competition you want to host.

7. Basic equipment

You will need to bring some items to the competition venue.

For example, a pair of high quality speakers and microphones for the beach commentator to announce wave scores, tents for athletes, judges and organizers, a buzzer and two large disc systems to inform surfers of the priorities and the race time.

You also need black, white, red, yellow, and green jerseys for those athletes competing in the water and those about to paddle for their heat.

A podium, medals, and trophies could also be cool extra features to add to the mix.

8. Surf forecasts and alerts

Most surfing competitions take place with a waiting period that can range from a few days to several months.

Depending on your permissions and logistical agility, you may want to set the holding period for the time of year that is likely to have good waves.

All competitors must be informed and updated on the kick-off dates and time at least 24 hours before the scheduled start of the first round.

Obtain a experienced surf forecaster or someone who knows the place and its ideal wind and swell conditions only improves the quality of the official call.

As soon as you get the green light from swell trackers, issue an alert to all competitors and, if appropriate, educate the media and the general public.

9. Real-time event management

All events experience unexpected setbacks or challenges.

To minimize and alleviate issues, try performing a few reps with your team to make sure everyone is in sync with the action in the water.

Also, make a list of any potential issues you might encounter and plan a possible solution for each issue.

Remember that the safety of athletes, spectators and staff should be your number one priority.

Then good waves and fair judging will certainly make your event fun and memorable for competitors, spectators, organizers and, if so, sponsors.

10. Leave the site clean

Once the show is over, it’s time to pack up and head home.

However, you will need to leave the beach at least as clean as it was before the event.

Make sure the sand is free of water bottles, snack bags, cigarette butts, and all kinds of trash your team and spectators may have left behind.

It is the responsibility of the surfing community to minimize the footprint on its ultimate sanctuary – the beach and the ocean.

The beach clean-up after the event is part of the competition itself.

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