Ocean Ski Rules – Revised 6th Jan 2013


The humanitarian mission of SLSGB is to save lives, and through the encouragement and conduct of sporting activities, we equip our members with the ability to carry out this mission. Sport is an essential activity of Surf Life Saving Great Britain (SLSGB) that helps to develop our lifesavers’ skills, knowledge, and techniques. Lifesaving sport plays an essential role in bringing our clubs and regions together on a regular basis to share information and experiences.

SLSGB Distance Racing Definition

SLSGB Distance Ski Racing involves competition on the ocean and in the surf, that are performed under the criteria set in this document over distances greater than that set out in SLSGB and ILS rules for sprint based competitions. The SLSGB distance races are classed as separate races with differing needs and rules to the SLSGB and ILS sprint race events.

Course locations

Courses may be held in open water such as those found at coastal beaches, estuaries and inland beaches. Events are held in a variety of formats and conditions. Courses should be set to utilise the conditions of the venue to ensure safety, while providing a test the seamanship and ability of the competitors. The event should also consider the spectators and members of the public as well as other water users to ensure a safe and enjoyable event. Typically, the majority of the course should be set beyond the breaking surf zone, although entry re-entry may be necessary through small surf conditions for certain venues. In larger conditions the start may be staged and initiated beyond the surf to allow escorting of competitors safely beyond the break. The finish may also be required to be beyond the break in certain circumstances please see starts and finishes for further detail. It should be possible to enter and egress from the water safely.

SLSGB British Distance Surf Ski Races

SLSGB British Distance Surf Ski Series

The ‘SLSGB British Distance Surf Ski Series’ will involve competition in a series of races.  The winner of which will be deemed the ‘British Champion’.

SLSGB British Distance  ‘Double’  Surf Ski Title

The ‘British Distance Double Surf Ski Title’ will be contested at the ‘British (Long Distance) Surf Ski Championships’ which is a one off separate event each year (see race calendar).

Other SLSGB accredited Distance Ski Races

Additional distance ski races may also be organized, but must comply with the following rules in the document and complete an SLSGB event accreditation process.  These events may also have extra age categories.

SLSGB Series Event Categories

The following categories are recognised:

•Open Men / Ladies (16 and over as per SLSGB age category rules) – SLSGB spec skis and long distance skis allowed

•Masters Men (40 + age on Jan 1st of that year) – SLSGB spec skis and long distance skis allowed

•Double Ski – This category is for open and / or a mixed paring.

Entry Criteria

Entry criteria and rules for SLSGB Distance Ski Racing are different from SLSGB sprint based rules. Additional measures such as those specified in these rules are provided to allow wider potential for participation in the events, from like minded sports and participants. Typically conditions in a distance event will not involve any length of time in breaking surf/ require transition through the the impact zone However,  wave heights, distances and wind strengths for races together with the likelihood of fatigue drive  the requirement for a considered and organsied approach to safety.

At minimum competitors must:

•Be members of SLSGB.

•Swim 100m unaided.

•Hold a SLSGB Surf and Ski competency or skill award or a self declaration of competency and indemnity (see Appendix 1).


Ocean Surf Ski Construction

•The Surf ski has a closed, watertight hull and deck design where the paddler is seated in indentations in the deck.

•Self bailing drains will be used to drain the footwell(s) and the seat(s).

•The shape, construction method, materials used and steering mechanisms are without restrictions.

•All the crafts shall have at least one point provided near the cockpit for attaching a leash.

•All openings into the hull larger than 12mm in diameter (drain and vent holes) must be fitted with a cover that is mechanically fastened in place.

•The surf ski must have internal buoyancy added to the construction such as a foam stringer.

ILS Specification Construction

•ILS spec skis must meet the criteria established in current International Life Saving rule books

Distance Ski Racing Courses

Courses may be changed at short notice to suit the conditions on the day of the race. However, the following principles should be considered when setting the course:

SLSGB Series Races

These races are approximately 16km and the same course is used for Open Men / Ladies, Master Men and Double categories.

N.B. The SLSGB Double Championships will be based on similar distances.

These distances may vary depending upon the type of competition and category of paddlers entering. However, safety and control measures should be adjusted to suit. I.e. Elite races may occasionally occur at much greater distances than recommended, an example of an additional control measures for this may include evidence of qualifying criteria or competencies being demonstrated. Further controls may also be required.


Lap based events

Courses should utilize lap formats to ensure that competitors remain within a controlled area, where spotters, competitor checks and safety craft can be used. This also allows for public viewing of the event. Suggested formats for a course layout are provided below:

M-shaped course

Rectangular course

Triangular course (utilizing conditions)


Point to Point Based Events

Point to point events may require additional rules specific to the location of the event. Spotters and additional communication and safety cover needs to ensure that competitors are always within proximity of assistance/safety cover or able to communicate to gain assistance as necessary.

Check points, landing egress points should be identified along the course and consideration to extra spotter along the course.

Points Score (for GB Series Races and Identification of Series Placings)

GB Series Races will be identified as such in the race calendar (published on Facebook and The total race calendar shall be made up both of GB Series races and any other one off events that meet the other criteria as laid out in this document.

The GB Series Winner (for each category of Open, Masters and Women) will be the competitor who has received the lowest points score across the series in their respective category.  The series will be made up of FIVE races with only the best FOUR scores being counted as the series total for that competitor (ie if you race all FIVE races only your best FOUR scores will be used, if you compete in only FOUR of the FIVE races then all of your scores will be used).

Points will be awarded equivalent to the placing achieved for your particular category

1st Open will receive 1 Point

5th Open will receive 5 Points

2nd Master will receive 2 points etc.

As the series progresses any competitor who is competing in the series (by nature of having competed in at least one series event) but does not participate in a particular series race will be awarded ‘missed race points’ equivalent to finishing the missed race in last place for that category of competitor. (ie if there were 18 Masters participating in a race of which you were not a part you will be awarded points equivalent to finishing in 19th place for that race)

If less than FOUR races are competed then one or more of your contributing scores for the overall series will be such ‘missed race points’ as described above

In order to ensure that competitors are not disadvantaged from missing a larger race (or similarly, advantaged from missing a smaller race) the ‘missed race’ points awarded for any competitor in any particular race will be adjusted in the final GB Series result to reflect the AVERAGE of ‘missed race points’ across the Series (ie if you had missed Race 3 and there were 18 participants in your category you would have initially been awarded 19 ‘missed race’ points. However if at the end of the series the average number of participants in your category across all 5 races was 22 then your specific ‘missed race points’ will move up to 23 points for the race you missed (similarly your points for that race would go down if the series average was lower than for that particular race)

This will only come in to play if you have competed in less than FOUR races.

This is the same system as was used in the 2012 Series so please see those results for a practical example of how this works


1. All paddlers are required to wear Lifejackets (pfd’s) at all SLSGB distance ski races.

2. Anyone finishing a race without their lifejacket on will be disqualified.

3. Flares or Mobile Phone in a water proof pouch are recommended at every race and important in point to point based events.

4. Leashes are recommended at every Race. If wind is over 25km/hr: Leash + Flares (or Cell Phone) are compulsory for all if over 500metres off shore.

5. If a paddler does not offer assistance to another paddler in distress, they will be disqualified from that race, unless offering assistance puts the paddler in danger them self. Positioning may be amended)

6. All paddlers to give their number to the time keeper at the end of race (Time will be recorded when number is given in to the finishing judge, NOT when crossing finishing line).

7. Any paddler not completing the course must record the race number with the time keeper.

8. A race briefing must take place immediately before the start of the race to confirm the racecourse, safety issues and any other salient facts.

9. It is the paddler’s responsibility to ensure that they are present at the race briefing and no responsibility will be accepted by the organizers for the competitors who were not present. Competitors should be notified of the briefing upon registration or before the race start.

10. Competitors may be required to land ashore or pass through check points for safety or other reasons, at points designated by the race organisers.

11. It is the responsibility of the race organisers to institute a search for any competitor who had not crossed the finish line or advised of his withdrawal.

12. The costs of this search will be borne by the competitor who had withdrawn and not notified the race organisers.

13. Race organizers are responsible for, and obliged, to meet SLSGB accredited event criteria to run an SLSGB Distance Ski Race. Additional criteria may also be required, specific to the event beyond the scope and advice of SLSGB guidance and resources that are produced to promote good practice within the scope of standard surf life saving events.

14.There will be a sweep safety craft/or marshal following the field in longer distances where individuals go out of site of the start and finish lines.


•All paddlers must register for every race.

1. All competitors will be required to complete a series or event registration and Indemnity form.

2. Race Entries will be taken online and/or on the day of the race. Race entries should close 30 minutes before the stated, race start time.


•Beach starts (Dry):

o Line skis up approximately 5m from water’s edge facing the water.

o Line competitors up in line with their skis approximately 10m from water’s edge and holding their paddles.

o On starting signal, competitors run to ski and carry/push ski into water before mounting.

•Beach starts (Wet):

o Competitors steady their skis in line in knee-deep water about 1.5m apart.

o Competitors must obey directions from the starter or check starter concerning ski alignment at the start.

o On the starting signal, competitors paddle their skis around the course.

•Deep water Starts:

o The start will be between two markers, clearly identified and pointed out to competitors at the briefing

o Competitors steady their skis between two marker buoys.

o Skis should not be moving and in a straight line (failure to comply will be classed as a False start).

•False starters

o Will receive a 2 Minute time penalty.

o False starters will not be recalled (but will be informed of the penalty at the end of the race)

N.B, the race organiser may change the Beach start / finish should conditions require them to do so.  This may be for safety reasons or in order to protect the competitor’s craft.

Competitor numbers:

•Up to 100 people = All competitors start together in Mass Start

•Over 100 people Split into Waves of less than 100 competitors


•Any competitor who does not comply with safety requirements will be disqualified.

•Any competitor who does not follow the prescribed race course on the day will be disqualified.

•Any competitor who rides the wake of a motorised craft will be disqualified.

•Any competitor, who gains unfair advantage through unsportsmanlike behaviour, will be disqualified.


•Beach Finishes (Dry):

o The finishing line will be between 5 and 10m from water’s edge.

o The paddler must jump off their ski.

o Run through finishing flags with their paddle.

o The finish is judged on the competitor’s chest crossing the finish line. Competitors must finish on their feet in an upright position.

•Beach Finishes (Wet):

o The finish line will be no less then knee depth water, between two flag on poles.

o Any part of the ski crosses the in-water finish line – but must be ridden, gripped, or carried by the competitor.

o Paddlers may lose contact and control of their ski without necessarily being disqualified.  To complete the race competitors must have (or have regained) their ski and paddle and cross the finish line from the seaward side while maintaining contact with the ski and paddle.

•Deep water Finishes:

o The finish will be between two markers, clearly identified and pointed out to competitors at the briefing.

o Paddlers must cross the finish line with sitting on their craft.

o The finish is judged when the tip of the bow crosses the finish line.

o The onus is on the paddler to ensure that timekeepers have registered their number and position.

o It is the onus of all competitors to cross the finish line or advise the race organisers that they have withdrawn from the event.

o Craft must be removed from the finish line immediately their number has been recorded.

Wash Riding

Whilst it is difficult to monitor wash riding on powered craft by paddlers.  It is considered unsportsmanlike to do so.  If a safety / camera boat or any powered vessel passes you, it is deemed appropriate to keep on your original course and not jump on the powered craft wash to gain advantage over other competitors.  All safety / camera boats will be instructed to stop forward motion if they feel a paddler is riding their wash.


Last Updated on Saturday, 06 January 2013 14:41