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Did Zeke Lau Just Pull a Sunny?

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Chalk one up for the big guys!

We all know about Sunny Garcia’s intimidation techniques. The beefy Hawaiian was famous for using his immense size and alpha nature as a means to prolong his career, be it by vibing on the beach, hassling in the lineup or, if ploys against his direct competitors failed, throwing muffins at judges.

“It’s not a personal thing,” Sunny once told Skuff TV. “You know, if they’re fucking up and I think they’re giving someone a low score or giving me a low score, yeah I’m gonna say something. It’s definitely made a difference in my career…. Like Pat O’Connell, for instance, Pat never really snapped about anything. I’ve seen them rob Pat quite a bit of times, but you rarely see me get robbed, ‘cos they know if they don’t give me that 8.5 that I deserve I’m gonna be up in that tower saying something — or possibly doing something. There’ve been quite a bit of times they’ve locked the doors.”

Interesting! But how does it connect to the 23-year-old Ezekiel Lau? Well, aside from being Sunny reborn (the size, the power, the stone cold stare!), Zeke had a verrrrry interesting moment today at Bells. It went something like this:

Zeke was leading his round four clash against Filipe and ADS when Filipe went for a wave on the buzzer. Zeke, holding priority over Filipe, decided to block the young Brazilian from getting a score on this last-ditch effort. Filipe stood up three seconds prior to Zeke, whose hands left the rail just as the buzzer sounded. Reminiscent of the Seabass/Michel debacle at Lowers in 2015.

Zeke came to the beach thinking he won, but the contest went on hold as the judges poured over the replays. Had he stood up in time? On first glance, four judges thought no. After reviewing the video, the fifth judge conceded that Zeke had in fact stood up after the horn. It was announced that Zeke would receive an interference and be relegated to round five. That led to an aggravated walk across the scaffolding and this heated interaction…

As you can see, Zeke and coach Patterson attempted to ascend the stairs to judges’ tower when they were intercepted by Commissioner Perrow and Deputy Commissioner Hickel. What happened next is unknown, as the cameras panned to the heat in the water.

Not an hour later, Commissioner Perrow took the screen alongside Barton Lynch for an urgent briefing. He informed us that the replay the judges used to make their decision had a faulty audio connection. What the judges had seen was, apparently, an inaccurate depiction of reality. With the correct audio-visual connection in hand, the judges deemed that Zeke had in fact stood up before the buzzer. As a result Zeke was rewarded the heat win and Filipe would go on to surf round five.

Interestingly there are two videos that they showed the viewers. In one, a clip that is either more zoomed-in or was taken from closer to the surf, Zeke stands up maybe two milliseconds before the buzzer. In the other, which is either much less zoomed-in or was filmed from closer to the judging tower (and the buzzer), he’s a solid second after. It appears as though the original ruling was made off of video two, while the ultimate decision was determined off video one.

Tricky, weird, mysterious. This just begs for a conspiracy theory!

So what if Zeke, after his staircase stand-off with Kieren and Renato, advanced on to the judges’ perch? What if he continued to de-suit and used the neoprene arms to deliver a dizzying series of slaps? What if that incident persuaded the judges to scream, “Uncle! Uncle! You win Bruddah Zeke! We’ll fudge the data!”

Probably not but if yes Sunny will be so proud.