[Press release]: Cold Hawaii drives the Digital Revolution

The confusion in knowing who is winning a heat should be a thing of the past for windsurfing fans everywhere with the introduction of live scoring planned for the KIA Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup in Klitmøller which starts on Monday September 17. The Professional Windsurfing Association’s judges, some of whom have been used to the pen and paper method for 25 years, have been testing the new system that allows them to input their scores during a heat into a tablet computer and upload them to the internet. So, when Philip ‘The Kid’ Köster, lands a double forward we will know how perfect the judges thought it was almost instantly and whether it is good enough to beat a Kauli Seadi push loop forward and taka.

The organisers of Cold Hawaii brought live streaming video technology to the windsurfing World Cup for the first time in 2010 to general acclaim. Robert Sand, the Danish windsurfer and Klitmøller event manager, remembers Josh Angulo, the 2009 champion, sending a message of astonishment, excitement and disagreement with heat result to the race team, while he watched the world cup for the first time in his home in Cape Verde. Live scoring continues the revolution.

“It is only fitting that Denmark will be the first place where we have that system up and running being an event that has driven a new generation of live interaction and social media in windsurfing,” Rich Page, the PWA tour manager, said. The PWA will introduce live scoring across all of its disciplines and events but it will make the biggest difference in wave and freestyle.

“With slalom it’s very easy to keep people engaged because they can easily see who’s winning and losing,” Page said. “That’s one thing you can never do in wave or freestyle up until now. But the system is in beta, we’ve been testing it to make sure it’s ready to be used in anger.”

Anger is one thing that Klass Voget, the experienced world top 10 German rider, thinks we may see less of with the introduction of live scoring. “It will eliminate judges changing scores afterwards and things like that,” Voget says. “There will be less discussion. Also, it makes it much more interesting to watch if you know who’s in the lead.”

“The ultimate would be that we can tell guys on the water or the guys get it directly on to their watches or you have a big screen. Then we’d know ‘OK, the other guy is in the lead I need to throw everything in now and go for something’. If you watch surfing live the only thing that makes it interesting is that you know the scores you know who’s in the lead and you know what kind of wave the other guy needs. That makes it super interesting even though 99% of the time nothing happens and there’s just two guys sitting there.”

“It will make it much more exciting to follow both in the live streaming and on the shore where at the moment you have a commentator who is not really sure what the score is so can just say what he sees. Now he can say: ‘the guy with the red sail is in the lead by half a point and the other guy has to throw a double.’”

It is a revolution made in Denmark. At last year’s Cold Hawaii event the score sheet was published online after every heat for the first time, paving the way for live scoring. Rasmus Johnsen, head of new media and technology at the ACTIVE Institute at the University of Aarhus, began the plan to bring the World Cup to Klitmøller and windsurfing into the 21st century, and has been part of a team making the sport more shareable and understandable to spectators and scaleable for organisers. The live scoring web-based software has been designed by Kurosh Kiani, a Danish sailor from the Slalom tour.

Live scoring does not mean everyone will agree with the judges’ decisions, but the sight of aggrieved competitors brandishing soggy score sheets outside the judges’ hut may be on the way out ...