The WSL is no stranger to criticism when it comes to its judging. In virtually every event there is a heat that is deemed by online commentators (in varying numbers) to be dubiously judged, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen the ferocity of outcry from fans and big names alike that has emerged after yesterday at The Hurley Pro
Before we dive in to the criticism let’s recap on the heats that have specifically got peoples backs up:
First, Matt Wilkinson’s round two heat one loss to Brett Simpson, where he came up short by just 0.24 of a point. Then Julian Wilson’s loss to rookie Alex Ribiero, where he lost by a minuscule .05!
And finally, perhaps the most controversial, Medina’s round three loss to wild card Tanner Gudauskas, where fans (and the commentary team) were flabbergasted as Medina’s final wave was not scored just under what he needed to take the win and from this clip below, comparing Medina’s wave and a 8.67 from Tanner earlier in the hear, we can see why:
If you’d like to weigh in on the others hit up the WSL heat analyser here.
The first thing to note before we dive into the reaction is that when scores are this close, there’s always going to be ambiguity. I mean Wilson lost by a five hundredth of a point for crying out loud, there can be no clearer indication that it really could have gone either way. The ever diplomatic Joey Turpel highlighted exactly this in the post show analysis, stating of the Tanner Medina exchange: “Five judges on the panel, two judges clearly in favour of Tanner, one judge just by a tenth of a point in favour of the local boy, two judges had it on Medina on tie-break decisions, one on the highest single score.”
Still this wasn’t enough to cool tempers that were already flaring up on social media. First came general fury from the fans, leading to #corruptWSL trending on 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. Might be time to break down what the judges see and understand as good surfing in comparison to what the best surfers in the world see and understand as good surfing, as it could be a little different? @wsl @mattwilko8 @gabrielmedina
Wilko then replied on the post: “It is hard to accept when they make decisions that decide people’s lives and don’t take care to make the decision right and are not at all held accountable.” Ex-tour competitor Tom Carroll also joined the fray: “Right with you @Julian_Wilson this was a blatant hiccup for @wsl judging system. I feel deeply for @mattwilko and the look in his eyes during post heat interviews.” And here’s one of our favourite reactions from free-surfing extraordinaire (who because of his career choices doesn’t have to muzzle his opinions on the WSL) who really let rip:
Wow this is just plain fucked up. As bad as I want jj to win the world title, I still think this was the worst call I’ve seen in surfing!!!! If tanners wave was an 8.67 please tell me how @gabrielmedina was an 8.30?!?!?! @wsl come on guys!!! Not cool!!! Such a blatant rip off !!!!
A video posted by Matt Meola (@mattmeola) on
Now in a further plot twist, thrown up by the boys at beachgrit, Julian and possibly Wilko could face retribution by the WSL as they have an article in their rulebook which states:
“Individuals bound by this Policy shall not engage in any conduct which could cause damage to the image of the sport of surfing. For purposes of this Article,“damage to the image of the sport of surfing” is defined as any act, regardless of time or place, which casts the sport of surfing or WSL in a negative light. Without restricting the application of this Article, “damage to the sport of surfing” will include any comments or broadcast from social media accounts that the Surfer is responsible for.”
And anyone found in violation could face ‘Monetary Fines and Disqualification.’ and ‘Suspension and Expulsion.’ Ouch. We wait with baited breath to see if the WSL throws the book at the boys for venting on insty!
Since we doubt your a WSL competitor, why not throw your opinion into the hat in the comments below. Do you think the heats should be re-surfed? the judges fired? or the entire scoring system overhauled?!