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Lowers judging controversy heats up, Kelly gives his take



Surf Culture

Heated social media posts from Wilson & Medina follow close heat loses at Lowers

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 September, 2016 - Three title contenders lost at Lowers by the thinnest of margins this week. After several pro surfers took to social media to claim injustice at the hands of the World Surf League judges, media pundits expanded on the controversy with calls of "world title manipulation."

Julian Wilson, obviously upset, posted to his Instagram: "When sleepless nights, countless hours of preparation and learning hard lessons from past upsets, it's hard not feel frustrated when not getting rewarded in key moments like this."

Australia's Surfing Life posted several articles on the topic.

But it was the Gabriel Medina vs. Tanner Gudauskas heat that made the online surfing world flame up bigtime. In Round 3 Heat 7 Gudauskas hit the 8-point range on his rides to gain control of the heat, but with five minutes left Medina needed an 8.34 then scored just an 8.30 on a wave that the WSL commentators said was enough to advance with commentator Barton Lynch saying he thought it was at least a 9.

Medina stormed off after his loss, but later posted to Instagram: "Time to go home. Very sad, I dedicate or have dedicated my life to it ... so tired, tired!"  *(according to GoogleTranslate).

Medina supporter Diego R D posted to YouTube a side-by-side of the two waves in question and stated: "We can clearly see that the judges failed grossly. In First Wave Tanner Gudauskas got an 8.67 for three maneuvers and Gabriel Medina made 8.30 for seven power turns... Gabriel Medina was greater. Unfortunately this kind of "judgment" is becoming very common at the WSL."



After much back-and-forth about judging criteria and the fallout from the heats at Lowers Kelly Slater has chimed in and posted his thoughts on the matter to Instagram. His summary was that the judging at the start was off-kilter from the start of the heat.

Here's what I think about the heat between @gabrielmedina and @tannergud... Tanner's first wave (8.5) was the best surfed wave of the heat with the most variety and commitment in maneuvers. Gabriel got the better score in the first exchange (8.83) which I thought was incorrect both live and watching replays later. That set a strange tone for the heat. The wave Gab got an 8.3 on should have been easily enough to put him in the lead AT THAT TIME. Tanner had an 8.67 in the middle of the heat that I think was very over scored by more than a point. So when Tanner rode his final wave he should have been in second place needing a mid 8 point ride. And he surfed that wave very well.

I feel the judging got lost from the first exchange. By the time Gabby got his good wave (8.3) and didn't receive the score, everyone was confused, myself included. No matter what you think it was a close heat that could have gone either way.

I also think most people take easy opportunities to make big deals about things that aren't super important in the scope of their lives. The extent to which people have taken this heat is seriously silly. It was a close heat that could have gone either way. Actually, three of us who go to every event scored it later at home and had Tanner with a slight lead, all things considered. My solution? The judges shouldn't be able to hear the current situation and score accordingly but even with that they are trying to decide who surfed the better heat. We've all had close ones go our way or against us. So there you go. Let the controversy (and blocking) continue!

In past events WSL head judge Richie Porta would join commentators and explain the day's judging framework for the conditions and level of surfing. The WSL has yet to comment on the current round of controversy.

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