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Surf Competitions in San Diego: How They Work and Must-See Events

Surf Competitions in San Diego: How They Work and Must-See Events

Interested in showing off your surfing skills? Perhaps you’re not much of a surfer but you simply enjoy watching others ride the waves? Either way, you’ll find that there are plenty of opportunities to do both in sunny San Diego, California. With more than 50 miles of beaches, you’ll find there’s always someone riding the waves. Some of the best times to watch, however, are during the city’s surf competitions.

If you’ve never had the chance to watch a surf competition in San Diego, however, you’re probably wondering what to expect when you get there. From amateur to pro competitions, these action-packed events are always packed with spectators anxious to see local, national, and even international talent compete for top prizes and notoriety. There are some of the top brands and vendors lining the boardwalks and beaches with their tents by Ins’Tent’ with exhibits, memorabilia, food, and more available to purchase. While you could simply find a comfy spot on the beach or boardwalk and just watch, knowing how the competition works make it all the more fun. Here are a few pointers to the ins and outs of San Diego surf competitions.

If you hear someone talking about a heat, they’re not referring to the temperatures. When referring to surfing competitions, a heat is a group of 2 to 4 surfers competing at the same time. They have approximately 30 minutes or less to catch some good waves in the pre-designated competition area and show off their skills without crashing. A group of judges will rate the surfers’ waves on a scale of 1-10 using the best 2 waves to determine who moves on to the next heat. This continues until they’ve reached the final round or heat. There are penalties for interference (meaning one surfer interferes or tries to catch a wave while another surfer is already in the wave) which can greatly impact their scores.

How do the judges determine the score for each wave? Anything from 0-1.9 is considered poor, 2-3.9 is fair, 4-5.9 is average, 6-7.9 is good, 8-10 is excellent. There are some factors that the judges pay attention to in order to make a score determination. This includes the surfer’s level of commitment and difficulty of the wave, the creativeness of their maneuvers, combination and variety of maneuvers, as well as the speed, power, and flow of the wave.

Signing Up to Compete
If you believe you have what it takes to compete in a San Diego surf competition you’ll need to sign up. Most competitions are held by the World Surf League. You would need to sign up for a membership in order to qualify for competitions coming up in the San Diego area or other parts of the US. You can then review the list of upcoming events to determine which ones you’re interested in competing in. Keep in mind that not only does it cost to become a member, but you will also need to pay entry fees to participate in the competitions as well as have adequate insurance coverage in the event that you get injured while competing. It essentially pays for itself, however, as you get better with each competition and start earning cash prizes.

San Diego Surf Competitions 2020
Where can you go to watch the action (or compete) in 2020? Check out some of these events listed below:

  • Thursday, May 9th - Saturday, May 11th - San Diego Surf Film Festival

This event is held in La Jolla, CA on May 2020. It’s a weekend packed with national and international surf films. Meet some of the filmmakers or have a great time at the brewery party. Dine on some good grub, drink a few beers, and rock out to some of the area’s hottest live acts.

  • June 8th (San Clemente Pier), July 6th (OB Pier), August 17th (PB Drive), September 14th (Belmont Park) - AM Slam Surf Contest Series presented by Vans

This is an amateur surf competition for locals to have a great time. Anyone can compete for cash prizes and trophies. There’s also live music, plenty of great food, tons of vendors, and a surf and skate championship held in San Diego you won’t want to miss.

Now you’ve got a better understanding of how San Diego surf competitions work and a few of the area’s popular events to add to your list of things to do. Whether you want to bring the family along, party with friends, or check out the surf scene with a significant other, it really is worth it. With great food, tons of locals and tourists, good music, booze, and of course, some of the best surfers in the area (or internationally), it’s an activity you won’t soon forget about.