You’ve trained. (or maybe not). You’ve executed your race strategy (or maybe just paddled). You’ve battled it out with a few other competitors (or maybe just paddled by yourself most of the time). And you finished.

Then, you look at the results and your time is wrong. Your place is wrong. You feel the emotions coming bubbling up. Maybe you thought, “I got robbed!” or “I was cheated!” or “They took my race from me!” Or maybe you felt like, “I don’t want to bother anyone.” or “It’s not a big deal.” But it is.

Race directors want to get it right. And they need your help.

Here’s what to do:

remain calm.

Look at the results as soon as they are available. Race directors should post the unofficial results for a brief time after the final finisher. According to Byron Kurt, Director of the WPA,

“As long as a competitor can prove the position they finished in like with “I was 10 seconds behind X competitor and 5 seconds ahead of X competitor”, this usually gives you the best placing and time to give to a competitor that was not timed or did not show up on the results or in the wrong place.”

Find the person behind you and the person in front of you if possible. That means it’s important to look around you at the finish. Pay attention to the time and the people around your finish, just in case.

In the case below, it was a close finish at the Surf to Sound. If at the finish, April Zilg had been 10th place instead of 2nd, the best thing to do would be to get Jessica (in front go to the race directors together to let them know April was right behind Jessica and in 2nd place.


According to Byron, “It is always good to have them also bring another competitor that was behind or near them to confirm their place and or time so as not to disrupt another competitors placing. Typically a race director should allow all competitors a time period (30 min to an hour) to check the posted “Unofficial” results to make sure they have been scored and in the correct position so awards can be conducted in a timely manner without an issue during the awards. As long as this is communicated by the race committee it is now the competitors responsibility to check the posted results to insure that they have been scored and in the proper position.”

Remember, a timing issue is NOT a “Protest”

It is simply bringing up a correction to the results.While there can be human error with the input, the bulk of the time is error comes from a competitor that does not know their race number, says the wrong number and changes board class without informing the race committee.

The quicker you can address the time and finish with the race director, the sooner they can correct the time and place and finish the final results, get them posted, and have awards.

Address the issue calmly and respectfully and know the Race Director is on your side. There’s just a lot going on and they’re doing their best. Talk to them. Most likely, they can make the change and everyone will remain happy.

What if you had to leave right after the race or didn’t see the results until the next day?

If that’s the case, let’s be frank, it’s just a race. There’s nothing a race director can do at this point and they’d actually be breaking the rules. Also, if you’re in the top 3, it means swapping awards and perhaps $ or prizes. It’s a nightmare and logistically impossible. And it places the race director who’s put all the effort into creating a great race and event experience in a horrible position.

The most important thing to remember is timing is one of the most difficult things to manage from a race director’s point of view. In my experience, 99% of the errors in race results are due to racers registering in one class and moving to another without letting the race directors know, or giving their number to someone else. This gets really interesting when a female racer gives their race number to a male racer or the visa versa.

What if your Garmin time is different?

You watch isn’t the official time. The race directors start the timer when they start the timer. Your Garmin is a good guide, but not the official time.

What if you see someone break the rules?

Protests generally have to occur within 15 minutes after the end of the race. According to Byron, “The 15 minutes after the last competitor has finishes is only for a protest with un-sportsmen like conduct, missed buoy, but not a timing dispute.”

You will need a witness to have a good chance of having them penalized or disqualified.

Some races require a cash dispute deposit. Some don’t. Know the rules and follow the rules. If you want to make a protest, make it. It’s important. If you don’t want to go through the process according to the rules, in the time allowed by the rules, don’t bring it up again. Move on.

Don’t attribute any rule violation to malice when it can most likely be explained by not knowing the rules, or making an unintentional mistake in the heat of the moment. Most paddlers are good people. 🙂

And remember, be nice to your Race Directors and volunteers. They are just like you, only they sacrificed paddling that day to make your experience awesome.

For more information on the World Paddle Association (WPA) or to contact Byron, go to

Here is a link to the official WPA rules/guidelines.