SURFING is defined as follows

  • Any sport in which the primary force that moves the participant’s surfing equipment, is a wave either of equal natural or artificial source.
  • An activity on the waves on any type of equipment used for surfing.
  • An activity in calm waters on any type of equipment used for surfing.


ISA MEMBERS are defined as the following

Members are defined as the National Governing Bodies (NGB) for surfing, StandUp Paddle Surfing and Racing, and other wave riding sports, representing a country, nation or territory, as recognized by the ISA. A country, nation, or territory can only be represented by one NGB. In addition, members are also any international surfing, SUP or any other wave riding activities, as recognized by the ISA.

The OBJECTIVES of the ISA are as follows

(a) To establish and maintain an international association to promote the interests of surfing in all its forms throughout all countries of the world, to which all recognized National Governing bodies, concerned with the sport of surf riding, surfing or its related activities may gain affiliation;

(b) To encourage the formation of NGB’s in individual countries, nations or territories not yet members of ISA, thus increasing membership worldwide;

(c) To promote and co-ordinate the activities of NGB’s within their own jurisdiction;

(d) To establish laws, rules, criteria and standards for judging at, and for conducting international surfing contests. These measures shall inter-alia apply to the sport, to those participating in it, and to the dimensions, design, size and type of surfboard or equipment when used in international competition;

(e) To promote uniformity of laws for the control and regulation of surfing and surf riding throughout the world, by encouraging NGB’s to adopt the ISA’s established laws, rules and standards;

(f) To co-ordinate the international activities of NGB’s by providing a forum for arranging international contests;

(g) To organize and/or authorize a member and/or a third party to host the World Surfing Championships, World Surfing Games and any other international events as decided by the ISA;

(h) To work for the conservation and improvement of coastal environments and the protecting of surfing resources worldwide;

(i) To promote the values of good sportsmanship, particularly amongst the younger generation of surfers and Bodyboarders of the world;

(j) To promote the educational, scientific, literary and charitable aspects of the sport, improving cultural and sporting contacts between the surfing nations of the world;

(k) To work towards the inclusion of surfing in the Olympic Games and other Continental and regional multi-sports events;

(l) To purchase, acquire, sell, deal in, build, construct or reconstruct, take on lease or in exchange or otherwise acquire or dispose of any movable, immovable, corporeal or incorporeal property anywhere in the world;

(m) To enter into any contract, association or negotiation for the purpose of giving effect to any of the aforementioned objects.

Disciplines Recognized by the ISA


SURFING: Riding waves on the crest or tube section, standing up on a surf board.

Divisions: Open Men and Women, Junior Boys and Girls


STANDUP PADDLE: Standing up and riding waves on a surf style board with a paddle.


LONGBOARD: A more traditional variation of surfing with a longer surfboard.

Divisions: Open Men and Women, Junior

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PADDLEBOARD: Racing or riding waves while lying, kneeling, or standing on a surf style board.


BODYBOARD: Lying in various positions on a soft board. Rider might use swim fins.

Divisions: Open Men and Women, Junior Boys and Girls, Drop-Knee

KNEEBOARD: Kneeling surfboard riding. Rider might use swim fins.

Division: Open Men and Women, Junior

SKIMBOARD: Throwing the board from the beach into the incoming wave, jumping  onto the board, and surfing said wave. No paddling is involved. Recognized by the ISA, but not included in the ISA World Surfing Games.

BODYSURF: Surfing the wave by only using your body. Rider might use swim fins. Recognized by the ISA, but not included in the ISA World Surfing Games.

TANDEM: Two people (a man and a woman) compete together on a single board. Riders must demonstrate a series of technical lifts.

Recognition and Membership