Stab Magazine | WSL Reveals Founders' Cup Competition Format

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WSL Reveals Founders’ Cup Competition Format

It is… intricate!

news // May 5, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Two months ago the WSL announced that its Founders’ Cup event would feature a never-before-seen team format, but because they failed to reveal any of the juicy details our minds were left to to wander around this topic. 

Would it be tandem, synchronized, or dodgeball style, wherein opponents would attempt to knock one another off their boards with red rubber balls from the sidelines?

The options overwhelmed.

Finally yesterday afternoon, a mere 36 hours before the event was set to begin, the WSL has released its revolutionary contest format and it is …intricate.

For your convenience we’ve copy-pasted it below: 

Qualifying Leaderboard

  • Five teams of five athletes. Three men, two women per team.
  • Each athlete surfs two waves per run (left and right) – each wave scored out of 10.
  • Each athlete will surf six waves across three runs during the Qualifying Round – three rights, three lefts.
  • Each athlete’s top-scoring left and top-scoring right will contribute to the Team Total.
  • Ten waves (each of the five team members’ contributing top-scoring left and right) are added up to a maximum team total of 100.
  • Top three scoring teams out of the five qualify for the Final.

Run 1

Team A
Team B
Team C
Team D
Team E

Run 2

Team A
Team B
Team C
Team D
Team E

Run 3

Team A
Team B
Team C
Team D
Team E


Top 3 teams advance to Final.



  • Three remaining teams of five athletes. Three men, two women per team.
  • Each athlete surfs two waves per heat (left and right) – each wave scored out of 10. 
  • The athlete’s best scoring single wave (out of either the left or right) will make up his or her heat total (out of a possible 10).
  • There will be five three-surfer heats in the Final.
  • Differing from the Qualifying Round, the Final will assign points for each heat placing toward the Team Total.
  • For Heats 1 – 3: 1st: 2 points, 2nd: 1 point, 3rd: 0 points
  • For Heats 4 – 5: 1st: 4 points, 2nd: 1 point, 3rd: 0 points
  • Heat 4 will be contested by women, heat 5 by men. 
  • Heats 4 and 5 will matter! Let’s see who the Captains assign to these heats!

Heat 1

Team A / Athlete A
Team B / Athlete A
Team C / Athlete A

Heat 2

Team A / Athlete B
Team B / Athlete B
Team C / Athlete B

Heat 3

Team A / Athlete C
Team B / Athlete C
Team C / Athlete C

Heat 4

Team A / Athlete D
Team B / Athlete D
Team C / Athlete D

Heat 5

Team A / Athlete E
Team B / Athlete E
Team C / Athlete E


In the event of a Tie, there will be a Surf Off to decide the winner.

  • Surf Off will be one male, one female per team.
  • Each surfer rides one wave each.
  • Both waves count towards the heat total (maximum of 20 points per team) to determine the winner.

Team with the highest Point Total wins!


medina g2101futureopen17rowland mm

Gabby will be here to defend his Future Classic title. Photo: WSL/Rowland

Don’t worry, we too had to read this a few times to get a handle on it, but after coming to a thorough understanding of this format we’ve given it our seal of approval, which I’d imagine the WSL has been waiting for with bated breath. 

The only question that remains (the WSL has not yet responded to our queries) is whether men and women will be scored on a different scale (as per usual) or if they will surf on a truly even playing field, wave-and-score-wise. 

And before you say, “It doesn’t matter, the results will be the same in the end,” you’re wrong. 

In Heats 1-3 of the final, the WSL does not specify whether men or women have to be in any of the specific heats. So say America, Australia, and Europe crack the final, and the captains lay out the first three heats as such:

Heat 1

USA / Carissa Moore
AUS / Mick Fanning
EUR / Leo Fioravanti

Heat 2

USA / Kolohe Andino
AUS / Steph Gilmore
EUR / Johanne Defay

Heat 3

USA / Kelly Slater
AUS / Joel Parkinson
EUR / Frederico Morais

gilmore s1093kswc17morris mm

How will Steph stack up? Photo: WSL/Morris

In this scenario, due to the points-for-placing format (see above) the WSL has concocted, it’s immediately important whether women will be scored on a gender basis or “straight up” against the men.

Consider this: In a pool, it will be theoretically simple to pick apart which of three waves is better than the others, but what happens when you throw a gender handicap into the mix? Scoring Kolohe’s two airs to Steph’s five snaps will be incredibly difficult.

And speaking of a gender handicap, how many extra points is being a female worth? Two, three? This question is typically arbitrary in nature, seeing as how men and women never compete head-to-head, but due to the format of this event, a fact such as this really does need to be addressed (and hopefully disclosed) by the WSL judges in order to promote a fair competition.  

Gender fluidity aside, this format seems inherently interesting (it ain’t over til it’s over) and we’re excited to see how it plays out over the weekend. 

More insights from the Friday “practice day” and captains’ press conference coming soon. 


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