Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What is the World Surf League? A: The World Surf League (WSL) organizes the annual tour of professional surf competitions and broadcasts events live at where you can experience the athleticism, drama and adventure of competitive surfing -- anywhere and anytime it's on.

Travel alongside the world's best male and female surfers to the most remote and exotic locations in the world. Fully immerse yourself in the sport of surfing with live event broadcasts, social updates, event highlights and commentary on desktop and mobile.

The World Surf League is headquartered in Los Angeles, California with offices throughout the globe, and is dedicated to:

  • Bringing the athleticism, drama and adventure of pro surfing to fans worldwide
  • Promoting professional surfers as world-class athletes
  • Celebrating the history, elite athletes, diverse fans and dedicated partners who together embody professional surfing.

Q: When was the WSL founded?
A: The original governing body of professional surfing, the International Professional Surfers (IPS), was founded in 1976 and spearheaded by Hawaiian surfers Fred Hemmings and Randy Rarick. The next evolution was the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), founded in 1983 by Ian Cairns and giving birth in the 90's to the company philosophy of "world's best surfers, world's best waves". 2015 saw the ASP officially become the World Surf League.

Q: Does the World Surf League offer a mobile app?
A: Yes! We are proud to offer native mobile apps for both Android and iOS. Simply point your mobile browser to and to be directed to the App Store for each platform.


Q: Where can I watch live surfing events and learn more?
A: You can find live event broadcasts, highlights, athlete interviews and much more at We've partnered with ABC and Universal Sports in the United States as well as broadcasters around the world to bring pro surfing to fans everywhere. You can also sign up to our mailing list to receive live event alerts and WSL news as well as following us on social media:
Snapchat: worldsurfleague

Q: What events does the WSL coordinate?
A: The World Surf League coordinates the following: the Championship Tours (CT), the Qualifying Series (QS), the Big Wave Tour, the Longboard Championship, the Junior Championship and the Masters Championship, as well as the Big Wave Awards.

Q: How many events are there in the Championship Tour?
A: There are 11 events on the Men's Championship Tour and 10 events on the Women's Championship Tour.

Q: What is the schedule of Championship Tour events for 2018?
A: You can view the full 2018 Championship Tour schedule here.

Q: Who are the current champions?
A: The 2017 WSL World Champions are John John Florence (HAW) and Tyler Wright (AUS); the 2016 WSL Jeep World Longboard Champions are Taylor Jenson (USA) and Honolua Blomfield; the 2016 WSL World Junior Champions are Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Macy Callaghan (AUS); and the 2015/2016 WSL Big Wave World Tour Champion is Grant Baker (ZAF).

Q: Who can win the WSL World Championship?
A: Any one of the World Surf League Top 34 men's surfers or Top 17 women's surfers that qualified to compete in the Championship Tour. The male and female surfers with the most points at the end of the year are named World Champions.

Q: Which events can be used to count towards rankings?
A: There are two main rankings systems, the Championship Tour rankings and the Qualifying Series rankings. The CT rankings determine the World Champions while the QS rankings help determine who will qualify for next year's Championship Tour.

The Championship Tour rankings will include results from the Top 34 and Top 17 as well as the replacement surfers. Only results from CT events will count towards the CT rankings. The best 9 of 11 results will count towards the men's ranking and the best 8 of 10 results count towards the women's rankings.

The Qualifying Series rankings will include results from all WSL surfers competing in QS events. The best 5 results will count towards the rankings.

Therefore the 2018 WSL Top 34 will be comprised of:

  1. Top 22 finishers on the CT rankings
  2. Top 10 from the QS rankings (excluding those who have already qualified through the CT Rankings)
  3. Two WSL Wildcards

The 2018 WSL Top 17 will be comprised of:

  1. Top 10 from the CT Rankings
  2. Top 6 from the QS Rankings (barring those who have already qualified through the CT Rankings)
  3. One WSL Wildcard

Q: What are World Surf League wildcards?
A: Each year the World Surf League selects three surfers (two for the Men's CT and one for the Women's), who wouldn't have otherwise qualified, to join the Top 32 or Top 16 to compete in the CT for the entire season. Usually these are CT surfers who were injured in the previous season and therefore unable to re-qualify.

Q: What are event wildcards?
A: In addition to the World Surf League wildcards there are also event wildcards. These are surfers who are chosen to compete alongside the CT surfers in a single CT event. A Men's CT event has a 36-man field comprised of the Top 34 plus two event wildcards. Women's CT events have an 18-woman field comprised of the Top 17 plus one event wildcard. The event wildcard is typically awarded by either the event sponsor, through a trials event or through automatic entry at the discretion of the event organizer. Typically candidates for the event wildcard will come from the event sponsor's team, the local area, or both. Not only do these surfers complete the seed list and/or fill in for injured surfers, but they also bring exciting new faces and challenges to the CT elite.

Q: What are replacement surfers?
A: Replacement surfers are those who are chosen to fill empty spots at CT events should any of the competitors be unable to complete. Replacement surfers are chosen by the WSL before the start of the season and are offered the opportunity to fill empty places in CT events should other surfers withdraw.

Q: Do event wildcards and replacement surfers get to use their results towards their CT Rankings?
A: Yes, As of 2015, all event wildcards and replacement surfers will use their results towards a CT ranking.

Q: What is priority and how does it work?
A: The surfer with priority has the unconditional right of way to catch any wave they choose. Other surfers in the heat can paddle for, and catch, the same wave, but only if they don't obstruct or hinder the scoring potential of the surfer with priority. At the start of the heat once the first wave has been ridden, the remaining surfer in the lineup gets automatic priority. A surfer loses priority once they catch a wave and/or their hands leave the rails (edges of the surfboard) as they attempt to stand up. If two or more surfers catch a wave, the first surfer to make it back to the lineup will get priority. Priority is indicated by colored discs at the event site.

In three and four person heats the first surfer to catch a wave takes last priority and the remaining surfers have priority over that surfer. The next surfer (or two surfers, in a four person heat) to catch a wave takes last priority and the surfer yet to catch a wave takes first priority. The others surfers receive priority in the order they return to the take-off area.

Q: What is "the call?" Who decides if an event is on or off?
A: Each morning of an event window the Commissioners Office will make a decision about whether or not the contest will run that day -- this is called "the call". Lots of factors go into making the call and the Commissioner's Office will take into account the conditions, forecast, latest swell models, how much of the competition remains and the event permit. They also consult with the head judge, the surfer's representative and the local surfing director when making the decision each day.

The call can either be: ON -- the event will run; Standby -- another call will be made at a later time that day; or OFF -- there will be no competition that day (also called a "lay day").

Q: What is an event window?
A: The event window is the allotted time in which event organizers can run their event. Having an event window that is longer than the time needed to finish competition enables organizers to be selective when running their heats. This gives both the surfers and spectators the benefit of having the event run in the best possible conditions.

Q: What does it mean when an event is mobile?
A: A "mobile" event has the ability to run at a more than one location to ensure that competition is held in the best conditions. An event will go "mobile" when conditions at the primary event site have been assessed by the commissioners office, and a decision is made to move the competition to one of the backup sites offering more favorable conditions.

Q: Are all events mobile?
A: No, not all events have the capacity for going mobile. The non-mobile events are most often at prime or exotic locations and will offer the most desired surf in the area. As far as the CT events go, the mobile events are:

  • Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast (AUS)
  • Drug Aware Margaret River Pro (AUS)
  • Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (AUS)
  • Rio Pro (BRA)
  • Quiksilver and Roxy Pro France (FRA)
  • Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal and Cascais Women's Pro (PRT)

Leaving the non-mobile events as: J-Bay Open (ZAF), Vans US Open of Surfing Huntington (USA), Target Maui Pro (HAW) and Billabong Pipe Masters (HAW).


Q: What are the judging criteria?
A: The current WSL judging criteria was rolled out at all events in 2010. Judges analyze the following elements when scoring waves:

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

Read the full judging criteria here.

Q: How are waves scored?
A: A panel of five judges scores each wave on a scale of one to ten. For every scoring ride, the highest and lowest scores (of the five judges) are discounted and the surfer receives the average of the remaining three scores. There is no limit on the number of waves that will be scored, but the two best scoring waves (each out of a possible 10) are added together to become a surfer's heat total (out of a possible 20).

Q: How many waves are scored?
A: All surfers' scores are the total of their two highest-scored waves. This does not change regardless of which WSL Tour or Championship they are competing in. By scoring surfers on only two waves (formerly it was three), the level of performance is pushed as surfers attempt for bigger scores. In all Non-Priority QS Heats and CT Heats, the maximum number of waves scored is 15. In one-on-one heats, there is no wave maximum.

Q: Does wave scoring differ between the CT and QS events?
A: No. Wave scoring does not differ between CT and QS events.


Q: I'm getting a 'Device Not Supported' message on my mobile device. What does this mean?
A: We apologize for the inconvenience. At this time the WSL supports Android and iOS platforms only.

Q: Can I watch the live stream on YouTube?
A: The WSL is making continual improvements to provide you with the best possible viewing experience for Live Events and surfing videos. At this time the primary live stream is being served by NeuLion and is available via

Q: How are the live videos streamed and what can I do to improve playback?
A: The WSL Live Events are streaming using Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABS). This means that the video stream for Live Events is designed to accommodate a wide range of mobile devices and network capacities, as ABS dynamically adjusts the video playback quality to match the available speed of your wired or wireless network or bandwidth. This allows you to experience the highest-possible video quality and playback while watching WSL Live Events.

Occasionally, video buffering may occur and you may experience video and audio ""freezes"" on your screen as the data compiles and resets to continue the streaming. Most subscribers will select the "Best Available" video-quality option - fixed-bitrate streaming is also available for subscribers wanting to use less bandwidth."

Q: The live stream is choppy. How can I improve the playback?
A:If your video playback isn't coming through smoothly try the following tips:

  • Close all other browser tabs and windows. Sometimes this step alone is enough to make a difference
  • Install the latest version of Flash or use a browser with native HTML5 support
  • Switch to another browser. See list of supported browsers here

Q: I'm experiencing issues with Chromecast. Is Chromecast supported?
A: Yes, the WSL Live Event can be watched via Chromecast. Note that bandwidth can vary based on individual consumption rates and the number of devices are connected. This may impact the quality of your Chromecast viewing experience.

Q: I am having trouble viewing the live stream. What could be happening?
A: As a first step, please clear your browser's Cache and Cookies.

If the problem continues to persist it could be due to ad blockers. If you have enabled content filters or ad blockers of any sort then it's probable that the live stream will be blocked in error. Turning off these functions may resolve the issue.

Q: You've asked me to clear cache on a page or the browser. How do I do that?
A: To clear the cache in your browser hold down the shift button and reload the page. This method resets the information about the page that's stored in your browser.

Q: Which browsers can I use to watch the live stream?
A: The WSL live stream is supported by Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer. For the best experience, please use the most recent version available. Note: Internet Explorer 9 is the latest version that's supported. You can use the links below to update your browser:


Q: How do I follow or unfollow my favorite athlete?
A: Athletes may be followed from the Rankings or Athlete Profile pages. To follow your favorite athlete simply select the blue figure icon with the + sign. The icon will change to gray figure with a checkmark to indicate the athlete has been followed. To unfollow an athlete select the grey icon; it will revert back to the blue figure icon to indicate the athlete is no longer followed.

Q: Where can I see the athletes that I've followed?
A: Athletes you've followed can be viewed on the Profile Settings page under the 'Followed Athletes' section. Athletes may be removed from this list by selecting the grey figure icon to unfollow.

Q: What happens once I've followed my favorite athletes?
A: Once you've followed an athlete and signed up to be notified for 'Heat Starts' or 'Heat Results' you'll receive a notification that will display in the upper right corner of your browser. Note: you must be logged in to your WSL account and have 'Enable Desktop Notifications' checked on the Profile Settings page to receive browser based notifications on desktop.

Q: What happens if I select 'Enable Desktop Notifications' on the Profile Settings page?
A: Selecting 'Enable Desktop Notifications' will enable you to receive browser based notifications for the types of notifications for which you sign up. The first time this option is checked you may be prompted by the Chrome browser to allow pop-ups.

You may test this functionality to ensure it's working correctly by selecting the 'Test Desktop Notification' option. Upon selection, a message box will appear in the upper right-hand portion of your browser. Note that browser based notifications are currently supported by the Chrome browser only.

Q: If I follow an athlete using the WSL Mobile App will I see the update when I log in on my desktop?
A: Yes, athletes followed using the Android and iOS WSL Mobile Apps will display in the 'Followed Athletes' section on the Profile Settings on desktop. And athletes followed from from Mobile Web or Desktop will display within Settings in the mobile apps.

Q: Can I receive desktop notifications in Safari or Firefox browsers?
A: No, currently WSL browser based notifications are supported only by the Chrome browser.

Q: How do I stop receiving desktop notifications?
A: To stop receiving browser based notifications visit the Profile Settings page and under 'Push Notifications' uncheck the 'Enable Desktop Notifications' option.

Q: Where can I get a copy of the WSL Rulebook?
A: You can download it here.

Q: What are WSL's anti-doping policies?
A: Check out the latest information regarding WSL's anti-doping polices here.

Q: Is there dietary supplement information available to WSL Athletes?
A: Yes. Drug Free Sport AXIS is set up to inform WSL athletes on potential risks involved when taking dietary supplements. You can find more information here. To login, select World Surf League from the Organizations dropdown menu and enter the password "WSLSupport".

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