THE iSCORE REVOLUTION
This year the PWA has stepped up their game with the improvement of the live streaming coverage and saw the introduction of live scoring as part of a new program of developments planned for the future.
If you managed to catch any of the heats at the Klitmoller or Sylt wave events you know what we are talking about! The thrill of watching your favourite windsurfer live, seeing how the judges scored different moves, whilst being able to check what they need to do to win the heat in real time, brings the viewer right into the heart of the action in a way never before possible. This new dimension to live competition, will ensure watching and following the PWA World Tour will be an exciting experience in the coming years.
To know more about the PWA iScore system we spoke with Rich Page, PWA Tour Manager and the man behind the PWA iScore, to discover more about the scoring system and the changes it is bringing into the sport, how it started and where it is headed.
PWA: Rich, when did you start thinking of adding a live scoring system to the wave events?
RP: “It is something we have considered for years but it has become particularly relevant with the advent of regular live streaming from events. Additionally, it is only recent advances in technology that have allowed us to create a suitably effective and economically portable solution, allowing us to realize the concept.”
PWA: Ok, but I presume that there wasn’t anything already around so you would’ve have to start from scratch with the design, the functionality, etc, can you tell us briefly about the process?
RP: “One of the biggest challenges we faced over the years, has been creating a reliable interface for the judges to input their scores, without being overly distracted from the action on the water. Although surfing has had live scoring for some years, the judges workload at ASP events is significantly smaller and less intensive than it is in windsurfing, and the slightest distraction from what is going on on the water can cause a judge to miss something vital. PWA judges need to not only enter a number for wave riding (as is the case in surfing) but also to score jumps and note what type of jumps and other variations such as one hand, one foot etc. This requires several additional steps in the data entry process, so we needed a system that would minimize the actual input requirements. The development of reliable touch screen and wireless technologies have now allowed us to create a system that allows judges to enter all relevant data in the simplest and most efficient way, leaving their attention fixed on the water as much as possible – before we had that it was never an option.”
“Once a feasible interface was created, we then had to switch the scoring format, from a “win/lose” format where each judge had a winner and a loser, to an overall points format where all the judges scores were combined for each maneuver. This allowed the viewer to follow the progress of each sailor through the heat.”
“The calculations that the system has to perform are also quite complicated, due to the fact that all jumps have to be different and that so many different scores are being entered by each judge in a heat, so there was a lot of work to ensure that these worked correctly and without any risk to the safe and reliable scoring of heats.”
PWA: Once it was ready I suppose that the only way to really try the system would be during a competition, was Klitmoller the first time you used the whole system?
RP: “The first time the system was used in full was at Klittmoller. However, we could not risk the security of the event result and of individual heat results on an untested system, so we had done some preliminary testing in Gran Canaria and Tenerife also. The bulk of the testing though, was done in the weeks running up to Klitmoller, when we spent days entering scores, creating every possible contingency and scoring anomaly to try and force potential errors in the system, identify them and then correct them, before retesting and retesting until, eventually, we were confident in the system.
PWA: How does it work exactly?
RP: “All off the seeding calculation and heat draw is created automatically in the system. Each judge then enters the relevant information for moves performed during the heat on a tablet, including which sailor, whether it is a wave score, or which type of jump, whether it is one handed etc etc. The system then identifies each judges score for that particular move and, using a set of calculations designed to ensure that any bias is eliminated, calculates the average score for that move.
PWA: What is the feedback from the judges?
RP: “There was definitely some trepidation from the judges about using the system, but we were confident that we had created the most efficient interface possible and they soon found that it was simple to use.”
PWA: We have seen the PWA iScore working brilliantly at the wave events, what about the freestyle events?
RP: “The system was always intended to be expanded to be applied to Freestyle events, but before we can do that we need to create a new competition format that will allow a live system to be used. Currently the format only allows the actual score to be applied at the end of the heat, meaning any kind of live system would be ineffectual and largely irrelevant. New possibilities are being worked on though and we will have live Freestyle scoring in the future.”
PWA: Is it difficult because of all the different moves on different tacks?
RP: The range of possible moves and combinations is so wide and varied that it is nearly impossible to create an exact hierarchy of moves - which move is more difficult etc. That makes creating a system where each move performed is given an individual score very difficult. As I say, we are working on it!”
PWA: Well thanks for your time and help understanding the PWA iScore, before we finish, how do you see the live streaming and the PWA iScore working in the future?
RP: “The interactive nature and live delivery of these kinds of systems holds huge potential for the future in sports like windsurfing where the audience, is global and where the exact start and finish times cannot always be guaranteed. The full potential of iScore, which is far greater than just live scoring, will bring new dimension to that live delivery and immerse the audience in everything we do. The PWA World Tour will only get more and more exciting."
PWA: Fantastic, thanks again Rich.
You can see below some of the abbreviations that are used by the judges when scoring the events.
Tripple forward - 3xF
Double backloop - 2xB
Double Push - 2xP
Push Forward - PF
Double Forward - 2xF
Push tweaked - PT
Table Forwards - TF
Table back - TB
Air Chachoo - AC
Clew First Forward - CFF
Shaka - SHAKKA
Air Spock - AIR SPOCK
Backloop - B
Pushloop - P
Table top - T
Crazy Pete - CP
Forward loop - F
Cheese Roll - CR
Other move - OTHER
Wave ride - Wave