Stab Magazine | Stab High: Who's Judging, Who's Surfing And How This Whole Weird Thing Works

Stab High: Who’s Judging, Who’s Surfing And How This Whole Weird Thing Works

We’re here to answer your questions, and ignore a few!  

news // Jun 28, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 7 minutes

This year at Stab High, we’ve decided to step away from the absurdly scientific nature of surf judging.

We’re stripping away the decimal points, keeping all the judges’ scores, and removing any semblance of overthinking. Because really, how silly is it to obsess over an 8 vs. an 8.33 when it’s all a subjective interpretation of water-dancing?

So here’s how the new system works:

ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 DSC 9286 

Competition Breakdown 

  • There will be 24 surfers in the qualifying round. 

  • In the qualifying round, competitors will be placed into six heats of four surfers and take turns riding four rights and four lefts apiece. 

  • This year we’re running a two-wave set in Stab High. Each surfer will receive two first-wave rights and two second-wave rights. Same goes for the left.

  • Surfers are not competing directly against the other competitors in their heat, but rather against the entire field

  • Surfers’ two-wave totals will be comprised of their top right + top left score, and it will be out of 100.  

  • Following the qualifier round will be a re-seeding, in which the last-place surfer will be made to go first and the first-place surfer, last. In that order, each competitor will then receive one bonus wave of their directional preference. This is the last wave of the qualifying round.  

  • After all surfers have completed their bonus wave, each competitor’s top right score and top left score from their nine qualifying round waves will comprise their qualifying totals. 

  • The six surfers with the highest two-wave totals from the qualifying round will advance to the Finals; all others will be eliminated.

  • In the Finals, all scores will be reset and surfers will receive waves in reverse order of their qualifying round rankings. Sixth-place surfer goes first, first place surfer goes last. 

  • Finalists will take turns surfing four rights and four lefts each, after which there will be a final re-seeding (same as the first re-seeding).  

  • Following the re-seed, surfers will receive one last wave of their directional preference. This is the last wave of the final. 

  • After all surfers have completed their nine final round waves, whichever surfer has the highest right + left two-wave total, wins! 

    DSC 2550 

  • Tie-breaks

  • In the case of two or more surfers tying for the last qualifying position of the qualifying round, the surfer with the highest single wave score will advance.

  • If a tie occurs in the final (for first place only, otherwise refer to above), there will be a surf-off between the two (or more) competitors involved. In the surf-off, each surfer will get two rights and two lefts. The highest single score will win.  

    How the judging works

  • Only airs will be scored. Turns/blowtails/club-sandwiches will not count.

  • Airs will be scored by five judges on a 0 to 10 static, event-wide scale. Judges will hold up a numbered sign to display their score for each wave (think: NBA slam dunk contest).

  • There will be no decimals nor half-points in the scoring—only whole numbers.

  • Each judge’s score (between 0-10) will be counted, creating a total score between 0-50 for each wave. This makes a surfer’s two-wave (right + left) total out of a possible 100 points.

  • To be given a full score, airs must be completed with control and ridden out under the power of the wave. If a surfer doesn’t ride out of the whitewater, (s)he will be penalized but certainly won’t score a zero. 

  • For a scoring benchmark, we’ve set Mason Ho’s rodeo flip and Chippa Wilson’s qualifying round front-shuv from the 2018 Stab High at 9-pointers. 

  • Variation will be noted and appreciated. Repetition tends to fatigue the judges and the crowd. Don’t expect the same score for the same maneuver over and over again.

     DSC 2550

    Scoring criteria 

  • Height (determined by the lowest part of board or body)

  • Speed/Distance covered (has anybody cleared the whole section yet?) 

  • Style (if it looks good, it scores great) 

  • Progression and creativity (any weird grabs, tweaks, spins, rolls, and flips will be noted!) 

  • Landing (the cleaner, the better)


  • An interference will be defined as any physical altercation – including touching, splashing, throwing a beer can at another surfer – directly before or during a competitor’s wave. 

  • In the case of an interference, the assailant will lose their second highest score and the victim will get another chance at their attempted ride.



  • The Ladybirds will have the same amount of attempts as the men’s final: four rights, four lefts, and one bonus wave of their directional preference.

  • The top right + left two-wave total from their nine rides will determine the Ladybirds’ final scores.

  • The first and second place surfers will be invited to the next Stab High event. 

  • Winner takes all: $2500

    The Monster Air 

    Yes, there’s still a $20k prize for whomever sticks the highest punt in the main event. Height will be determined by the lowest point of a surfer’s body or board while in the apex of his/her maneuver. We’ll announce this prize at the end of the final. 

    Vans Acid Drop 

    Instead of jumping off the high deck right away, surfers in this year’s Acid Drop will have to work their way up a set of raised tiers to complete the ascending circuit. 

    Tier One is four feet above the top of the wave. If the surfer completes an acid drop from that platform, they move onto Tier Two, which is six feet above the wave. If they make that, it’s onto Tier Three, which is eight feet above the wave, then to the top of the wall, which is 10. Each surfer has two chances on each level. If a surfer fails to complete a tier after two attempts, they’ll be eliminated from the event. If two surfers can’t be split because neither can make it, they will continue until one makes and the other fails. If two surfers make it from the top of the wall (10 ft), Nathan Fletcher can give the $2k in cash to whomever he pleases. 

    The Freak Peak 

    Each surfer gets one chance to hit the Freak Peak—a seriously perverted air wedge—in the direction of their preference. The surfer who gets the highest score will win $10k. 

    Please note, this is entirely separate from the main event. Scores here do not apply there.

    ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 DSCF4886

    Who are the male surfers?

  • Noa Deane 

  • Chippa Wilson

  • Eli Hanneman

  • Nathan Florence

  • Harry Bryant 

  • Eithan Osborne 

  • Eric Geiselman

  • Mason Ho

  • Jett Schilling

  • Tanner Gudauskas

  • Kevin Schulz 

  • Ian Crane 

  • Balaram Stack

  • Parker Coffin 

  • Matt Meola

  • Noah Wegrich

  • Kael Walsh

  • Leon Glatzer

  • Shane Borland

  • Kalani David 

  • Curren Caples

  • Shaun Manners
  • Mystery surfer
  • Mystery surfer

    Who are the female surfers?

  • Sierra Kerr
  • Sky Brown
  • Bella Kenworthy
  • Caitlin Simmers

    Who are the judges?

  • Albee Layer
  • Brett Simpson
  • Aaron ‘Gorkin’ Cormican
  • Shea Lopez
  • Michael Ciaramella (Head Judge)
  • mystery judge

    (Yes, you counted six judges. But before you berate us in the comments for our terrible arithmetic, understand that Stab High is over five hours long, and judges will need a break. Keeping with the basketball theme, we’ll have a sixth man coming off the bench when need be.) 

    DSC 2230

    And here are some FAQs for the obsessive-compulsive types:

    Do surfers need to wear a leash? 

    No. Leashes are not required in Waco, and because surfers will have a few minutes between their individual rides, we would almost expect them not to wear one. Less drag, better for flight! 

    What happens if a surfer doesn’t catch their wave? 

    Unless the pool malfunctions and doesn’t break in the typical spot (around Block 3), surfers will forfeit any wave that they miss. Sorry, should have paddled harder! 

    Will a turn before the air be counted in a surfer’s score? 

    Nah, save that for the QS. 

    Do nosepicks/club-sandwiches/fin-throws count as airs? 

    No, as pretty as they might be. 

    What’s the winner get? 

    $25k for Stab High, $20k for Monster Air. No second place, winner takes all.  

    What constitutes a “make”? 

    You need to ride out with control. If you don’t ride out of the front of the whitewater you will be penalized but you certainly won’t score a zero. 

    Will claims lower a surfer’s score? 

    Yes. Your lowest score from the five judges will be clipped, essentially reducing your score just under 20%. 

    Well, what denotes a claim? 

    Good question. Fists in the air, fingers in the air, shotguns, bowing and hand waving, pretty much any excessive carry-on. 

    What about the no-claim claim? 

    Another very good question. That one is okay. 

    Can a surfer get chaired up the… pool? 

    Sure you can but we’ll be then donating your winnings to a charity of your choice. 

    Can a surfer choke a security guard?

    No! Well, yes, but we’d really appreciate if you didn’t. 

    If a surfer misses his/her heat, can he/she get in a later one? 


    If a wave misfires, does the surfer get another shot? 

    Yes. However, this will be at the Head Judge’s discretion.

    How can I watch Stab High?

    You can either come party with us in Waco by buying a ticket here, or watch the livestream by purchasing access here (for $14.99). The event can also be watched after the fact for those who are busy during the live broadcast, which starts at 2:30 CST on June 29. 


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