Is It Easier To Get Perfect 10-Point Rides In The WSL Today?

Filipe Toledo in the Air | Photo Credit: @filipetoledo

The sport of surfing has evolved throughout the centuries and it continues to evolve even today. That’s what makes the sport more interesting compared to other sports that have not changed much since they were invented. Professional surfing has also evolved a lot from the very first pro surfing event up until today with the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour in its current format, which is by the way about to change soon. And that’s what it’s all about, adapting to change in the same manner that surfers adapt to the changing conditions of the waves and ride with them.

Change is good all right – it makes way for the better things to happen. But there are also changes that do more harm than good, and one of those things is the way the WSL judges score waves today. It seems easier these days for surfers to get a perfect 10-point ride. And this was evident in the Corona Open J-Bay, where the most 10-point rides were ridden this year.

So why do a lot of surfers earn perfect 10-point rides these days? Is it because surfers of today have become better than before? Or is it because the judges have become more lenient? I’d agree that the surfers of today have become better because of new technology, better equipment, better training, healthier diet and lifestyle and more. But I also think that judges have become more lenient when judging the waves.

Here is the current judging criteria found on the WSL Rules and Regulations page.

• Commitment and degree of difficulty
• Innovative and progressive maneuvers
• Combination of major maneuvers
• Variety of maneuvers
• Speed, power and flow

Judging scale:
[0.0 — 1.9: Poor]
[2.0 — 3.9: Fair]
[4.0 — 5.9: Average]
[6.0 — 7.9: Good]
[8.0 — 10.0: Excellent]

While I have no qualms about these guidelines, I believe that current WSL judges have not been able to accurately qualify what makes a ride excellent, more so what makes it a perfect 10.

It seems that anyone can get a 9.0 for nice-looking carves. So if nice carves make a 9.0, what incentive do you get for pushing beyond that and aspiring to push your surfing to the next level? What is the point of Filipe Toledo going for a double alley-oop in the clip below when he could already earn a 10.0 for just a single one?


A 10-point ride has to be something that leaves a wow factor, leaving the viewers stunned and slack-jawed in disbelief. It could be a series of maneuvers that will blow your mind, or an unbelievable innovative air maneuver, or making an impossible tube ride that should have been an absolute wipeout, just like this one done by Sebastian Zeitz at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro 2017.

I am no WSL judge and I do respect that the judges in the WSL today are qualified to do their job. But I think they have to change their judging scale to this:

Judging scale:
[0.0 — 1.9: Poor]
[2.0 — 3.9: Fair]
[4.0 — 5.9: Average]
[6.0 — 7.9: Good]
[8.0 — 9.9: Excellent]
[10.0 : Unbelievably Amazing and Out of This World Crazy!]

Professional surfers are already expected to have excellent rides. They’re not called pros for no reason. So when a surfer completes a wave in an excellent fashion, a 9.0 range score is acceptable. But a 10.0 should be beyond expectation. It should be out of this world, something that gives the viewer an orgasmic blast throughout every nerve of his body!

It is about time the WSL rethinks the way it scores waves and makes the 10.0 rides really great again without any shadow of a doubt. The judging has to drive surfers to push themselves beyond their limits and aim for great surfing like they’ve never done before. And that will only happen if you will make it harder for a pro surfer to earn a 10.0. And only then will the sport progress from just aiming to win heats to shedding blood, sweat and tears to achieve greatness.

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