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Beach Grit

Judging: Is there an anti-American bias?

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

The tour is in Australia (still) with an almost all-Australian judging panel!

Are you caught in the rapture of this third event on tour, the Margaret River Pro, with its baffling fails and swamps of mediocrity? Is your favorite surfer still swinging for the fences with a chance to take it all home or is your favorite surfer an American and possibly being ruled against by the judges based solely on his nationality?

Oh I’m not suggesting or even hinting that there is bias in the judging tower but it was brought to my attention that the only American judge on the this leg either had to go home from Western Australia or was never there in the first place leaving only Australian judges with a sprinkle of Brazilian judge too.

Now, I believe that these fine men check their flags at the door and only see shades of 7.8 and 6.3 once seated in their cubicles but did Australia’s Connor O’Leary really beat America’s Patrick Gudauskas in Round 2 Heat 10?

Patrick was looking very fierce on this forehand while Connor shucked and jived backside. Sometimes, I believe, picking between a solid front hand and a decent back hand is like picking between apples and oranges and maybe the judges had this problem too but how did Connor shake out as the winner? I’ve watched the heat now three full times and I don’t see it. Patrick looks slightly better each and every time. He looks like the better professional surfer.

Is this my own bias showing through? Oh I hope not. I think of myself as a man of the world, an inspiration to peoples from Cairo to Coolangatta, but maybe… maybe there’s a touch of jingoistic pride buried in there? A blind spot?


But look at Patrick Gudauskas. Watch him surf and watch Australian Connor O’Leary surf and tell me who won. Of course Connor O’Leary won but tell me who won won.