By Zack Bright - IFWA 3rd Place 2011


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This article is intended to help new freeriders and those interested in eventually becoming competitive freeriders get all the information in one spot.

It also addresses an important question -- "how do I get myself on" ?


First off I would like to say that riding in the surf is no joke. You need to make sure your ski is surf-ready before even thinking about going to the ocean. You also need to be a well rounded rider at the lake before you head to the surf. Be sure it is OK to ride at a spot before you go there. Don't ruin it for everyone else.

Check out Internet or commercial videos for information on what to do to your ski and how to do tricks.


There are two distinct classes -- AM and PRO. There is no rule about motor size like in Freestyle. Freeride is all about “Run what you bring”. Any hull and any motor will do. Since we are to assume you are a new competitor, then we will base this article on the idea that you want to compete in AM class.


Currenty in USA there are two AM events. One is the Grayland Open located in Washington. The other is held at the Blowsion Surfslam in Oregon and is ran at the same time as the PRO tour stop. Check out the competition calendar on for Tour dates and locations.

Championships (also called "Tours" because they go from country to country) consist of several stops (4 this year). Freeriders compete at each event and get points based on their results.  The Freerider with most points at the end of the Tour is the Champion. The IFWA is the World Tour.

There are also National tours in Australia and France.

You don't have to commit to the whole championship -- you are allowed to compete at just one round.  So, for your first competition you may decide to wait until the round that is closest to your home.


Which hull/motor/pump/color etc. you choose is up to you. Anything goes.  In general, for your first competition simply bring what you have, there is no need to spend money on a machine before you know that competing is what you want to do.  Bring what you have, have fun, and later if you feel your machine was not good enough, then figure out what you need to upgrade.  


Regular jetski stuff -- gloves, shoes, vest, wetsuit, and a helmet. You should also bring a cart to haul the ski from the pits to the beach. If you dont have a cart ask another rider, they are friendly.

Freeriding can be tough on the ski so bringing spare parts is a good idea.

It's a good idea to bring a canopy or umbrella for the beach, because at most events a shade is a precious commodity.

Fuel canister is a must -- you are in charge of fueling your ski.


Check out the competition calendar on for the schedule.  Competitions are generally held on Saturday and Sunday (one competition spread over 2 days).


You will need a way to bring your jetski or rent one from a fellow rider.  Generally, competitors use their own trucks to drive to events, or get together with other riders to cut down on transportation cost.


Drive up to the pit parking area where you will be able to park your truck and/or trailer for the duration of the event.


If the competition is in a small city, or a city has other events on the same day, it's a good idea to call local hotels in advance and make a reservation. Check out the details on for each event, where you can find out more info about city/venue, etc.


1. In general, you will need to get a license to compete. This sounds serious, but it's very simple -- find out which organization is in charge of the competition (IFWA, IJSBA...) and pay their annual membership (usually less than $50).  You should do this in advance online, but usually you can do it at the event.  This membership allows you to participate in any event that organization has on schedule during that year.

2. You also need to register at the event. Organizers will be more than happy to help you understand all the details -- they want you to have a good time, which in turn will result in a good show for the spectators.


Freeride competitions are set up in a bracket system, head-to-head elimination rounds with usually a LCQ (last chance qualifier). Freeride competitions are stand alone, although sometimes there are races held in the surf as well.

A routine is usually scored 50% Surf Riding and 50% Aerials, but can also be 45% Surfriding, 45% Aerials, and 10% Overall Impression. The judges are focused upon top 4 maneuvers in surf and top 4 maneuvers in tricks. A rider's entire run is considered for overall impression. Final scores are given based upon the judges overall impression of both riders' runs and given the wave conditions. In general, first place gets 23 points, second 20 points, third is 17, etc.

In the morning there is a brief riders' meeting with the event coordinator.  The day starts out with a pre-qualifying round so the judges can see where everyone's skill level is and place them in brackets accordingly. Saturdays are pre-qualifying rounds and rounds to decide the top 8.

For the pre-qualifying round riders compete in 6 minute heats (2 riders per heat). The top 10 scores overall along with 2 wildcards (determined by judges) will advance to the brackets.

As time allows, the riders who did not advance to the brackets will continue in a consolation round.

All riders will get at least 2 heats. Rounds following pre-qualifying last 8 min.

You are there to win so make it happen. There is also a Big Air Competition where you are judged on how high you go and how technical the trick is.

Official results will be posted on the pit wall some time later. That's it for Saturday, you can rest and figure out what to do to improve for Sunday.

Sunday's schedule is the same as Saturday's, the top 8 battle for the finals. Final rounds last 10 min. There is also a Big Air Competition where you are judged on how high you go and how technical the trick is. It is nice because if you get eliminated early, you still get a chance to go out and show how big you can go. Big air is 3 min long or 3 jumps, which ever comes first. If you end up top 3 for the weekend, there is a podium ceremony after the competition and you will get a trophy for your result. This also means that your name and result will show up on !  You are now officially a competitive freerider.

Thats about it. Go out, have fun, and go big! Start out locating riders in your area and practicing with other who are better than you to improve. Always be careful in the surf.