How to stifle creativity and influence surfers
'Twas a big day on the interwebs today. Two contests, one in sort of big waves, one in sort of small. Which one did you gift with your attention?
The Shippies comp was a mix of disciplines, tow and paddle, with a scaled judging criteria that was hard to wrap your head around. We were told the tow waves scored less, the paddle waves higher, but then the day's only Perfect 10 was a tow wave. So what would a paddler scored for the same wave?
Equally puzzling was what was happening over on the other monitor. In Heat 6 at Keramas, Filipe Toledo worked up a head of steam on a three foot wave and sent a full roter into the flats. It was bigger than your factory model air reverse, and fully rotated, but the spin was flat. It was a one move wave and the judges threw it a clean 9 - well into the excellent range. Only a handful of waves have scored higher this year.
As a point of context, I'd say maybe half the surfers on the tour could do the same move.
Three heats later, Kelly Slater did a carving 360, a move that, as far as I can tell, only he can do. He rode out cleanly, did two more moves, and ended the wave without hitch.
The judges gave him 4.6.
Half Filipe's score, give or take, and yeah, I know all about comparing different heats but surely with such a large difference we can at least ask some questions.
Questions such as: If this is one of the hardest moves in surfing, then why is it being scored so low?
For a few minutes after the wave Statler and Waldorf did their routine:
Pottz: It's one of the the most difficult moves to do. Have you seen anything like it today?
Joe: We haven't seen anything like it at most events, Pottz.
The average score didn't stop the WSL rushing to promote it on Instagram, where they were unsurprisingly heckled. Roared Kong "The only judges that should be on the WSL tour should be retired professional surfers that earn the right to be there not someone that has never been at that level." Currently there are 700 more comments just like that...
On the Gold Coast, Slater's spontaneity (a layback snap tube stall ) was lowballed because the judges wanted to see surfers making full use of the wave, top to bottom turns etc, Can't use that against the carving 360 which services all the available real estate. Full commitment, big spray too.
Maybe the judges just didn't know how to score it. Like Slater's switchfoot at Padang all those years ago when the folk in the box just don't know what they had in their hands. Didn't know what to compare it against. Didn't even know how to think about the move.
The most worrying aspect is that Slater's carving 360 was original. It opens up a new way of attacking the lip, pushing lines that bend back towards the curl rather than always away from it, and it could be the seat for variations on the theme. From a chop hop did aerials grow.
But it scored a 4.6. Didn't count in his top two waves. A coded message to surfers that they should maintain their tracks
So it's air revs all 'round, and here comes another one just like the other one.