Is the World Surf League hurting its judges?
Yesterday’s Bells Classic was one of the better days of surfing competition in quite some time. Maybe even the best in… the last five years? It had everything from steady, large surf to stunning end of heat moves to John John to Mick to judging controversies to potential scandal.
If you show me what you believe to be a better day in the last five I will show you Zeke Lau and the “faulty audio connection” in the judging tower.
And how wonderfully revealing was that episode?
In case you missed, catch up here but in brief Zeke caught a wave at the end of his round 4 heat vs. Filipe Toledo/Adriano Lima. Zeke had priority at the end. Filipe caught a screamer. Zeke paddled into it to block him, very clearly before the horn. The judges ruled not very clearly before the horn, dinged him with an interference and sent him to round 5. Zeke stormed the judging tower and things were eventually cleared up when the World Surf League’s commissioner Kieren Perrow announced that the mix-up occurred due to a “faulty audio connection” in the judges booth. Zeke was sent to the quarters.
Now, I am such a fan of the judges. Hardworking salts of the earth who live only to differentiate between Caio Ibelli’s mid-face wrap and Ace Buchan’s floater re-entry. They slave over surfing minutia like I slave over cocaine. They are artists in their craft and much better at discerning subtleties than you or me.
Except this year there have been some very strange calls. Many, in fact. I feel, I know, that the judges are much better at the nuanced game than you or me but… this year… it hasn’t really felt like it and I have been confused. Sad even.
With the revelation of the “faulty audio connection”, though, everything has been made clear!
The World Surf League must have the judges sitting in some frigid box, huddled around a vintage RCA 1940s tv that periodically goes kaput. Head Judge Renato must have to slam the top with his open hand, from time to time, while Kieren screams, “Hitting it won’t do anything! Jiggle the cables!”
And it is time World Surf League. I know the free Michelob Ultra cases that can be sold on Ebay for cash haven’t come in yet but doesn’t anyone have a credit card? A 24″ Insignia flat screen television can be purchased at Best Buy for $99.99. It is small, yes, but almost high-def.
The judges deserve better. Give them the wings they need to soar.