If you are a competitor in wakesurfing, you probably have just always felt the division between surf and skim was natural, but it wasn’t always that way. Way back in 2006, the WWSC didn’t split the divisions. It was just an “open” and you rode what “ya brung.” As you can imagine, surf style boards didn’t fair all that well under that system and there was a huge push to split the divisions.
The original sort of independent rule making body, the AWSA, undertook a bold experiment in 2006 and attempted to create a board definition that would help clarify surf and skim. Now in your mind you probably clearly know what a skimmer is and what a surf is. Back in the day, it wasn’t so clear. We had some boards that weren’t so easy to define. One that was popular was the Inland Surfer Red Chubby. It was really thin, made from high density foam, had almost no rocker and came, originally, with tiny O’Fish’L fins. The general consensus was that it was a surf style board, even though it shared many attributes with skim style offerings. Thin, high density foam core, twin tip, etc.
So, what would any enterprising company do, that wanted to win? Develop a skim board that met the minimum definition of what a surf style board was and then…ride it like a skim board. That’s exactly what Calibrated Wakesurfing did back in 2006 at the Centurion Spring Break contest on Lake Tulloch.
Calibrated team rider Jaime Lovett took his, basically a skim board with some extra fins, into the surf style division and easily won, landing shuvs, 3 shuvs and back bigs. No one should fault Calibrated or Jaime, they are competitors developing to the rules. It was brilliant on their part. It was a failure in rule making.
The AWSA, with fresh failure all over their hands revised that rule set to basically state if you mostly ride skim style in the surf division, you’ll lose. It wasn’t written like that, but what it attempted to do was separate the divisions, so that surf would be “surf” and skim would be “skim”.
Over the next few years most of the riders were still from that era and respected that struggle. They still wanted to win, but understood the fragile nature of that split. Eventually the WWSC followed suit and split the divisions. They started with the Amateurs and then later followed with the pros. It was a ridiculously hard battle and took years of struggle.
Then somewhere it was forgotten. New competitors, most of the current rule making folks were never involved in that struggle so don’t understand the 7 years it took. Maybe don’t even recognize the issues at all.
We’ve done some research and talked with some of the folks in the two biggest series and there is no longer any rule that defines the split. Or at least that we were able to find. The CWSA website has fallen on hard times. It’s hard to maintain and spammers seem to have nothing better to do that litter good websites with crap. So somewhere buried in the franking machine and biomass boiler advertisements is the 2013 scoring and rules.
Somewhere over the years the support or documentation for the split between divisions disappeared. Or at least so it seems, like we said it’s hard to find anything because reading about biomass boilers is way too interesting! If that’s the case, it would seem, there is nothing to preclude an individual from taking a skim style board, or like back in the day, slightly modifying a skimmer and calling it surf. The AWSA attempted to get rid of the equipment definition nightmare and simply define style of riding, but that’s gone also. Hence the migration to what has long been considered skim style tricks. It could be the intent was to allow local control over those divisions, but we’ve never seen any locally developed rule sets published or otherwise.
We talked briefly with the EWT folks and they are still developing their final rules for the 2014 season, but they haven’t experienced any equipment or riding conflicts through their last season. However, their training document retains the basic concepts that the AWSA developed. One such guide for judges undergoing the training program included: “On the other hand, a surf performance dominated with skim maneuvers should be noted in a lower execution score.” The CWSA hasn’t finalized their rules for the 2014 season either, but they do not have a training program, nor does the World Series. So we’ll see what competitive wakesurfing brings this season.
CORRECTION: The CWSA does in fact have judge training documentation, from last year. We’re not exactly sure how to access it, but the fine folks at the CWSA can assist those who are interested.
In perspective: no equipment regulations, no trick regulations and no written support for separate surf and skim divisions in the World Series, apparently. However, the EWT maintains those elements in it’s judge training documents.
Thanks so much for following along, we really appreciate it!