Since the dawn of judging, judging itself has always been under scrutiny, scrutiny from external critics, scrutiny from other judges and scrutiny from the competitors themselves. In the name of fairness and perfection the PWA actively strives to improve its judging not just event by event but even heat by heat. Trialling concepts in the background, during official PWA heats to see how they fair up in ‘real life’ and introducing new ideas to push the sport further and ensure the competitors themselves never feel hard done by.
With the PWA on hold in Denmark due to the light conditions we decided to head back to some of the competitors who were in Brouwersdam to give us some interesting insights into new concepts that are being trialled elsewhere. Read their interviews on the next page.
Many will remember the times of overall impression, a judging format that allowed competitors to do as many moves as they wanted during the seven minute heat period. There were two reasons why this progressed to the power move format that we are so used to today. The first of these reasons was the very young Kiri Thode, he would perform anything up to 35 moves in one seven minute heat, causing so much stress for the judges and spotters that once in a while tricks were missed. The second was to progress freestyle into a new age of more acrobatic aerial type manoeuvres, with just a few moves being allowed each side out of so many attempts this gave the competitors more time to perform bigger moves in more suitable places within the heat area. As a result the moves began to push more into combination moves and the freestylers themselves now focus hard on training these more visually exciting tricks.
So what’s next? Well given that live scoring is now available for many sports it seems this is the natural progression, but it is still experimental in windsurfing and there is a lot of uncertainty as to how it could change things. Will the better guys only become better because they can afford to have a coach on the beach watching their scores then signalling to them what they need to do or could it disrupt certain aspects of the scoring that are often vital during those close call heats, for example the diversity points. There is still quite a big question mark over this, however in the wave discipline some events have already received the live scoring treatment and there seems to be little to no question that it is an improvement. In this case any negatives that may be apparent are very much out weighed by the positives.
What about in freestyle? With live scoring having had such a positive impact on the wave discipline the PWA have, for the first time, begun to introduce the concept into freestyle during last weeks PWA event in Holland. The scoring is not yet used to officially make a result but some judges were practising with it in the background to see how similar the results are to the more traditional form of judging that still takes place.
Further to this development is the method of how the live scoring should work. A points system for each move landed seems to be the most common belief right now. However, are the points awarded based on each judges personal opinion of the move, does that mean execution is the most important thing, should it override the difficulty of the move and how do you give the move a diversity score?
One such method that is proving itself already during events is the German Freestyle Battle scoring system. Here the best German freestylers, in their highly efficient manner, came together and discussed what moves are the hardest. Each of these moves is then awarded points on a scale system that compares to the difficulty of the move. The heats are then judged in the same power move format as the PWA, however after each heat a tabulator sits down with the scoring sheets, having not seen the heats, and puts the score to each circled move. The scores are then added up and a winner is instantly announced. It is a simple but interesting system that has gone down extremely well with all the competitors, not just because they can easily see how many points they got compared to their competitor but also because they know what to go away and practice before the next event.
We caught up with two PWA competitors to get their input on this system and their thoughts on the future of scoring. The first, Adrian Beholz, one of the key minds behind the German Freestyle Battle and the second is Valentin Boeckler a competitor and another advocate of the new scoring system in Germany.
Boardseeker: Adrian, you are a strong protagonist of the German Freestyle Battle scoring system, why did you guys come up with this and does it seem to be working?
Adrian: First of all for sure it works really good, our experience with it is that it works perfectly actually. For me the thing is that the PWA judging is called a best trick format but still it is not a best trick format, it is an overall impression of four best moves that count. It is not like you give an overall score per move they just give an overall impression for these best four moves. We think it is better to give straight points per move, then it is really a best move format, because of this we never had these 2:1 decisions. The problem is, is that the judge has to give a score straight away so with this format the judge just writes down the move and then it is tabulated after.
Boardseeker: Can you think of any further developments or changes you may make to it in the future?
Adrian: In the ‘Battles’ the guys don’t do so many moves, so the judges have more time to decide but in the PWA it may be a bit harder to follow and write down, so to save time a touchpad system could work on an Ipad or similar. What also may be good is, in some spots, to have a smaller area to make your moves in, then you sail out the area and back into it for moves, it also gives a focus point for the media.
Boardseeker: Do you see this concept working on the PWA?
Adrian: Yeah I think it would for sure, I don’t see why not.
Boardseeker: Valentin, you compete on the German Freestyle Battle and have experienced this new judging method you guys have introduced, do you feel it works well for what you do?
Valentin: Yeah I feel it works better on this system then on the other system because we have quite a few not so experienced freestylers on the tour and they can really see what their moves mean by scores. This year we had a head judge for the first time and he helped a lot of the new guys to find the right move on the new scoring system. It seems to be working well as many of the young guys are developing their moves and know what they need to practice.
Boardseeker: Do you think there are still ways this can develop in the future?
Valentin: Yeah for sure, we are not the official tour, we are an ‘unofficial’ tour and we had one guy who already questioned how hard the shaka was, saying that it was perhaps harder than the 5 points it is currently scored at. So there is for sure some stuff to fine tune but overall the system works good. It is also good because every rider can make his mind up about the points then we come together as a group and work out ‘as a group’ what each move is worth.
Boardseeker: Do you think this scoring could work on the PWA?
Valentin: Yeah perhaps some fine-tuning with the moves, some more opinions from other top-level riders it could really work. It puts the judge outside of giving too much emotion and personal opinion to the scores but more just what he sees then an external judge/tabulator writes down the points.