Analysis of Competitive Surfing Tournaments with Generalized Bradley-Terry Likelihoods
Here we analyse competitive surfing, specifically the 2019 Men’s World Surf League, using formal statistical methods. We use generalized Bradley-Terry likelihoods to assess a number of hypotheses of interest to the surfing community. We quantify the dominance of the top competitors using likelihood techniques, and go on to study the “Brazilian storm” phenomenon using reified entities in two ways. Firstly we assess the supposed Brazilian preference for beach break and point break wave types; and secondly we consider results from the perspective of tournament theory and test for competitors modifying their strategy in the presence of compatriot rivals. We quantify the evidence for these commonly assumed features of contemporary competitive surfing and suggest further avenues of research.