Emilio “Emi” Galindo Barquin is one of the current PWA judges, who works in Cabo Verde and decides about the given points at the PWA Wave World Cup. We asked Emi a few questions about his job with a lot of responsibilities and eventually difficult decisions. Get an inside view in the life of a professional judge, who was a former competition windsurfer.

The view from the judging tower at Cape Verde

Continentseven: How is it to judge the world’s best wave windsurfers in such unique down the line conditions?

Emilio Galindo/PWA Judge: It’s a dream come true, a joy, and a great responsibility. Those guys are your heroes, and you feel the need of doing your best, to be fair and precise.

C7: Is it one of your favorite events as a judge so far? Conditions are insane, it’s warm weather, no rain, no storm, …

Emi: Every event has its ups and downs, but Cape Verde and Maui are definitely high up on the list. I guess they are the spots every wave rider dreams about.

C7: How many judges are working at the event in Cape Verde?

Emi: In this particular case, we’re just 5 + Duncan (Head judge). As in CV there are no jumps and the waves come in sets every now and then, we are doing 4 men heats, best 2 advancing to the next round. So just one panel of 3 judges. We keep doing rotational breaks between the 5 of us, while the judges in the break do help by looking at priorities or checking when a rider is either finishing or starting a wave, as we have a lot of concurrent riding. The heats are 45 minutes long, which is good for the riders, so they can find some set waves; and good for us, as we have some spare time to talk about waves ridden and be extremely precise on the scores.

Emi nails a Back loop at Sancti Petri at one of his home spots

Emi nails a Back loop at Sancti Petri. It’s one of his home spots.

C7: You are a dedicated wave windsurfer! You often sail in brilliant waves (Sancti Petri, El Palmar, Los Canos de Meca …). Does that help for this job?

Emi: As dedicated as I can be! I’m always looking for quality sideoff down the line conditions, that’s always one of my top priorities, when and where is the next session going to be? My life swirls around that question. I guess it helps, as you can identify on the fly what can or can not be done in the upcoming section of the wave. We all have a lot of experience in that regard.

C7: What are the main criterias in your judging for Ponta Preta?

Emi: Go vertical, under the lip, fast and flow, connection across sections, hit it, risk and reward. In this premium wave, we want to see style and commitment – same as when at surfing Pipeline the judges want to see deep barrels… Oh, we don’t want to see missreaded sections in a wave, be sure you make full use of what the wave is offering.

Judging criteria in Sal, Cabo Verde (Photo: Carter/PWAworldtour)

Judging criteria in Sal, Cabo Verde (Photo: Carter/PWAworldtour)

Those guys are your heroes, and you feel the need of doing your best, to be fair and precise. Emi Galindo, professional PWA judge


C7: What do you need to do to score 8.5 – 9.5 points for a wave? 

Emi: Well, it should be a set wave, big, and with a lot of potential, so wave selection and wave reading are essential. A couple of powerful turns with some Aerials coming from a deep Bottom Turn under the lip should seal the deal. There’s a common misconception that you need to do Takas, 360s or Goiters to get there. For sure wave moves, done properly with a surfing approach, help, but they are not a must.

C7: Did you have discussions with riders and within the team about specific decisions, points, conditions…?

Emi: All the time, for us to make sure we are all in the same page. We are always open to chat and discussion as this is a never ending learning process for us all who are involved in top level competition.

C7: How’s about the distance in between the judging tower and the competitors on the water?

Emi: It’s pretty close and high up, so you see everything like in a stadium, waves rolling with the best in the world riding them, it’s amazing.

Judges tower at Ponta  Preta (Photo: Carter/PWAworldtour)

Judges tower at Ponta Preta (Photo: Carter/PWAworldtour)

C7: Is it possible to judge a full elimination without having any critical decisions or perhaps wrong decisions?

Emi: Sure! Our job is to maximize fairness and minimize errors. Some heats can be extremely close, but even there we’re not making any “critical decisions” on who is advancing, as we can only see and are aware of our very own scores really. The system is based on a formula which considers every score from each judge and we can’t see nor calculate it otherwise. We never know the total score, therefore we don’t know who’s winning the heat and we don’t need to take any critical decisions.

C7: The given points appear quite quick on the live results and the points are only slightly corrected afterwards compared to other events. Is that a sign that the crew of judges work every well and is well organized in the knowledge about the criteria?

Emi: Yes, I think so too. The team is working really well here, with Duncan being there supervising everything from the top. We are in sync with the criteria and we can differentiate each wave from the next one pretty quick, I’m happy with it!

Headjudge Ducan Coombs talks with Thomas Traversa about the conditions (Photo: Carter/PWAworldtour)

Headjudge Ducan Coombs talks with Thomas Traversa about the conditions (Photo: Carter/PWAworldtour)

C7: Judging windsurfers is quite a niche job. Is it kind of a dream job for you?

Emi: Indeed, what can I say… When I wasn’t doing this back in the day, I was at home watching the livestream from beginning to end, downloading all the amazing pics from John Carter each day, looking to all riders stories, and even checking the live ticket word by word… So at least now I’m spending the same amount of time in the PWA but actually working!

C7: Are you sometimes jealous not to be able riding the waves and instead sitting on the chair?

Emi: Yes. Definitely. All the time. Hahaha. Can’t help but being a keen windsurfer… But, I always have my gear with me, and I’m always ready to jump in the water as soon as we finish the heats!

C7: Who will win the double elimination?

Emi: No idea, but for sure the one winning the event is going to be full on fireworks on the perfect waves of Ponta Preta. We’re expecting some good waves for the last days of the event!!

©Continentseven 2022 // Photos by Carter/ PWA World Tour 2022