What seems like such a simple thing can get confusing for new and old surfers alike. You just show up, get on your board, and ride the wave, right?
Yes, but there is a little more that goes into it in order to keep the competitions running smoothly and most of all fun! Virtual world competitions are not set up the same way as RL competitions. First off, we don’t have a week to dedicate to the event. We all have real lives, you know? So there are event rules set up to keep everything running like a well-oiled machine.
For SLSA competitions this is how it goes. Number one – You have to be a member of the SLSA (SL Surfing Association). Just join the group. That’s all there is to it. No fees, no dues. One group slot is all it costs you. Number two- you have to join the SLSA forums. Why? Two reasons. First, you can keep your eyes open for an announcement for an upcoming competition. Second, that is where you register for a comp. Next… How do you register for a comp? That’s simple, look for the Competition Registration thread and sign up.
The event will be held once a month on a Saturday (SLT). There are 2 seasons a year, each with five events. Optimally each event will be held on a different sim, with different waves and boards. The approved competition boards are the SSi, C-3, LSD, and the HP5. There will not be a combination of different boards in the same competition. With me so far?
After everyone is registered, the head judge makes up the heat draws. That is who surfs when and what color jersey (or rashie as we call them) you wear. Shortly before the event the competition organizers send out a notice with the heat draws and a “comp pack”. Inside your comp pack you will find all the possible color combinations of rashies they will use and several note cards full of information about what is going on, including instructions for how to remove scripts. NO SCRIPTS is key. A heat will not start until all competitors are script free. Careful, your Firestorm bridge is a script. You will get a notecard telling you how to remove that. Sometimes you find extra goodies too!
Mesh. Becoming a bigger and bigger deal. Your mesh attachments usually have scripts in them. No one want to give up their mesh, right? So can you compete in mesh? Yes, IF you can kill the scripts or remove the scripts from the item. Remember to make a copy first. Depending on who is designing the rashies, they may be system, needing an Omega applier, or they will be scriptless mesh. If that all sounds to complicated… strip all your mesh (and any scripted item, sorry you will have to remove your wedding ring.) off and compete with your system avi. There are plenty that prefer to do that.
Okay so now you are registered and have received your heat draw. What is this heat business anyway? Well, the heats are the group of surfer you will be out on the water with. This can vary from 3-5 surfers depending on how many people have registered and what heat it is. So how do the SLSA organizers figure out how the heats are set up?
Surfers are ordered by the sign up registration. First surfer that signs up goes first, last surfer that signs up goes last. When someone requests an early or late heat, then they are bumped to front or the back based on order of registration. The first person to request an early heat would be bumped up to first surfer, the second person to request an early heat would be bumped up to the second spot. Same for those that request late heats, first to request a late heat would get bumped to the end, the next second from last and so on.
Still with me? Good.
Here’s the technicals of heat organization and deciding who gets to surf:
A total of 30 people registered will surf in the event. The top 20 ranked registered surfers will be pre-qualified for the Pro. The remaining spots will go in order of when surfers signed up to fill out the 30 spots. If more than 30 people register, the 31+ people would move to a wait list for those that remove themselves from comps, and no shows on the day of the competition. Wait list people will fill opened positions, in the order that they registered.
Twenty (20) positions in the Pro event will be filled in order of the current SLSA individual ranking of registered surfers, starting with the top ranked surfer(s) and continuing until all 20 pre-qualifying places are filled. In the event of a tie in qualification for the 20th place, all such surfers who so qualify will be registered for the Pro event. For the first competition of the season, rank is based on the final rank of the previous season.
- When 15 (or less) register, they will surf in 3 heats of 5, with no semifinal, and the top-6 scoring surfers will surf in the finals.
- When 16-19 register, they will surf in 4 heats with a combination of 4 to 5 surfers… and the top-6 scoring surfers will surf in the finals.
- When 20 register, they will surf in 4 heats of 5…, and the top-7 scoring surfers will surf in the finals.
- When 21 to 24 register, they will surf in 5 heats with a combination of 4 to 5 surfers… and the top-7 scoring surfers will surf in the finals.
- When 25 register, they will surf in 5 heats of 5… and the top-7 scoring surfers moving to the finals.
- When 26 to 29 register, they will surf in 6 heats with a combination of 4 to 5 surfers… and the top-7 scoring surfers will surf in the finals.
- When 30 register, they will surf in 6 heats of 5… and the top-7 scoring surfers will surf in the finals.
Scores. Scores are awarded by the judges. There is a head judge and 2 additional judges. They each give a score for each surfer for each wave. Scores are between 0.25-10.00, in .25 point increments. Surfers get three waves and the two highest scores are then added together. For example, let’s say you get a 5.0, 6.5, and a 7.o. The 5.0 is dropped. Your score for that heat is then 13.5. You get 3 waves in each heat, and the lowest score is thrown out.
How are those scores determined? Remember a surfer can receive between a 0.25 and 10.0 for each wave. Each judge determines how well the surfer performed on that wave. There are guidelines on how to score them, but as with everything in life the guidelines are subjective. More about this in a second. Scores are made up of 6 criteria;
- Degree of difficulty,
- combination and variety of maneuvers,
- speed, power & flow,
- utilization of wave,
- style and fluidity of linking of maneuvers, and
- innovative and progressive maneuvers.
To receive the best possible score, a surfer has to blend a good combination of all six criteria. For example, style and control is very subjective, but each judge scores consistently throughout a competition based on their interpretation of style and control. Typically, the judges are competition surfers, so they know what the tricks are and their degree of difficulty, this is less subjective. Length of ride is purely objective, did the surfer stay on the wave until the end, and did they fall off? This isn’t the olympics and we don’t have instant replay, so don’t get upset with the judges. They are doing their best and are consistently fair. After 10 years of being part of SLSA, as a surfer, a judge, and in other roles, judging has always been the most consistent part of a SLSA competition.
So what actually happens? You hang out in the spectator stands with the other surfers and spectators, dance and talk. Pay attention for your heat to be called to the beach. The marshal will give you some instructions. The marshal is your boss, numero uno, head honcho. What they say to you goes. Anything competition related, questions, issues, problems, concerns are to be relayed to the marshal, preferably in IM. They will tell you when to get ready, referring to you by your colored rashie. “Red, get ready.” You move yourself into position and wait. Be careful not to get in front of the wave. You DO NOT want to get swept up by the wave before your turn. Stay behind the buoy, that is what it is there for. So how do you know when it is your turn? Again the marshal tells you when it is clear and the judges are ready for you to surf by saying, “Blue, take your wave.” Take your wave are the magic words.
Waiting at the buoy
Under no circumstance should you IM a judge. That’s grounds for disqualification 😦 After you finish your heat, all the heat participants share a party wave (sorry, no score for that one) and you head back to the spectator stands and keep an eye on the scoreboard to see if you advance to the finals!
And that is pretty much it. Actually it’s not that complicated… basically you show up, pay attention, follow directions, ask questions, have fun!
Most of all have fun!. There is always a party in the event stands. And being out on the water with your heat buddies is always a good time.