(taken from ISA TPI & Priority Rules)


Tactical paddling Interference (TPI)


Unsporting paddling tactics must be penalised as a heat result is decided on waves ridden and not by negative tactics such as trying to reduce the waves ridden. This practice does not enhance the performance in the heat.

Right of Way should be available to any surfer who wishes to catch a wave in a heat. They should not be hindered in any way nor prevented from catching a wave if they have Right of Way.

Preventative or hindering tactics are not in the spirit of the sport.

Unsporting Paddling Tactics (TPI) includes but is not restricted to:

Taking the inside position and ROW with respect to an opponent then intentionally aborting takeoff once deferred by the opponent at the take off point.


The Process

Judges will review the TPI situation taking the first instance as an indication by the competitor that the surfer is using this tactic. If the surfer commits a TPI for a second time a warning will be announced and appropriate colour disc will be displayed.

If a third TPI is committed by that surfer they will be instructed to leave the water (as per the interference rule)

Note: TPI may involve infringements against different opponents in the heat.


SSA Priority Rules (taken from ISA Priority Rule)

The Event Director in consultation with the Contest Director and Head Judge will have the final say as to whether the 3 or 4 surfer priority rule (as described below) will be used in an event or whether the TPI rule will be used.


3 or 4 Surfer Heat Priority Rule

  • A Priority Rule system can be used where surfers establish priority by being the first to reach or go beyond or to the side of the main take off zone under the direction of the Priority Judge.
  • Where surfers reach the line up at the same time priority will go to the surfer who did not have the last priority.
  • The Priority Judge will determine who has priority. They may consult with the judging panel in the case of close calls.
  • Priority will be indicated by changing the colours of the priority discs, lights or flags to match the colours of the contest vest worn by the surfer who has priority.
  • The priority discs, lights or flags must be situated at one end of the judging area where it is clearly visible by the surfers in the heats in progress. It must be easily accessible so that it can be indicated immediately as and when priority changes either by or under the direction of the Priority Judge or the Head Judge.
  • Normally, when a heat commences there will be no priority until one surfer catches a wave. They will all be deemed to be sharing priority at the start of a heat. All non priority interference rules apply until this point.
  • The surfer with first priority has ultimate and absolute wave possession.
  • Once a surfer catches a wave all the remaining surfers will share equal first priority and the surfer who caught the first wave will move to third priority (in a heat of three) or fourth priority (in a heat of four).
  • A competitor loses priority as soon as they catch a wave or paddle for and miss a wave. This loss of priority is determined by the Priority Judge or the Head Judge and is based on their experience of watching similar situations. The loss of priority can be defined by as gaining momentum on a wave by either catching a wave or paddling for and missing a wave but still travelling towards the shore. When this happens priority reverts to another competitor only if they had already established second priority. Then the surfers in third and fourth place all move up one place and the surfer who lost first priority automatically moves to third priority (in the case of a heat of three) or fourth priority (in the case of a heat of four).
  • If no competitors hold priority no discs, lights or flags are indicated and the normal non priority interference rules will apply to determine right of way. These rules will apply until priority has been re established as described above.
  • A competitor loses second priority as soon as they catch a wave or paddle for and miss a wave. If this surfer catches and rides a wave in any way they will be scored for that wave, lose second priority and automatically move to third priority (in the case of three in a heat) or fourth priority (in the case of four in a heat).
  • When a surfer with first priority paddles for and misses a wave the other surfers will get automatic first, second and third priority if they held priority at that time. If the second priority surfer then paddles for and misses the same wave, both surfers (in this situation) will be deemed to have lost priority regardless of their having been insufficient time to change the priority disc. The surfer who had first priority will go to third priority and the surfer who was holding second priority will go to fourth pushing the original third and fourth priority surfers into the new first and second priority respectively.
  • The surfer with first priority must not position themselves in front of the other surfers to deliberately block them from catching a wave or they will lose priority. Prior to losing priority a verbal warning will be given to notify the surfer with priority that they are close to turning over their first priority position.
  • Similarly, where in the opinion of the Head Judge, a surfer with first priority places themselves in the take off zone to “sit” on the other surfers and prevent them from catching a wave, that surfer will also lose priority. Prior to losing priority a verbal warning will be given to notify the surfer with priority that they are close to turning over their first priority position.
  • The Head Judge may call priority interference only if the majority of the judging panel does not see the incident.
  • In all cases where a dispute arises from a malfunction of the priority system, the event Priority Judge and Head Judge will arbitrate. It is always the surfers’ responsibility to continually check the priority system at all times to verify allocation.
  • If the surfer is not in the Competition area when the heat starts and arrives late they will be allocated the appropriate priority position as determined by the Priority Judge at the time when the surfer reaches the Primary take off zone.


  • & 4 Surfer Heat Interference Penalty


  1. In Priority situations when interference is called on a surfer, that surfer’s heat score will be calculated using only their best scoring wave.
  2. In non priority situations when interference is called on a surfer, that surfer’s second best scoring wave will be halved.
  3. In Priority situations, when interference is called on a surfer while paddling to catch a wave or while riding a wave, the ride will be scored zero.
  4. Interference will be denoted by a triangle over the score on the Judges’ sheets.
  5. Any interfering surfer must be penalized. Once an interference decision is made it is irrevocable unless the interference is a consequence of incorrect official priority information. The Judges are directed not to enter into any discussion over the interference call. Any discussion must be directly with the Head Judge who has the option of discussing the situation with others, or not.
  6. The surfer who has been interfered with will be allocated an additional wave beyond their wave maximum within the prescribed heat time limit.
  7. EXCEPTION: where a double interference is called neither surfer is allocated an extra wave. An extra wave or heat delay as decided by the Head Judge at the time will apply to interference caused by water photographers, water security craft or personnel or other outside interferences.
  8. Any surfer who incurs two interference calls must immediately leave the water. Failure to do so will result in a penalty as defined in the Rule Book.


  1. If both interference calls are in a non priority situation, both scoring rides will be halved.
  2. If one interference call is in a no priority situation and the other is in a priority situation, one scoring ride will be halved and the other ride will score zero according to the order of the interference calls.
  3. If both interferences are in a priority situation the surfer will be disqualified from that heat.
  4. If neither surfer in a double interference situation has established priority, the penalty will be a non priority interference (see point b) regardless of the other surfers in the heat (those not involved in the interference situation) who hold priority or not.

In this described interference situation the interfering surfers involved will have their second best scoring wave halved.

September 2016