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Contest Wash-Up - QuikPro Gold Coast 2017

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Contest Wash-Up - QuikPro Gold Coast 2017

Last updated March 21, 2017 by Balyn McDonald

Owen fricken Wright.

Where did that come from? Who the hell cares; it was just so good to see that he’s still got it. Welcome back Owen!

There’s been so much written about Owen’s comeback (and deservedly so) that I won’t waste too much time revisiting. Suffice to say that we certainly missed the boat regarding him as a fantasy suggestion. We weren’t Robinson Crusoe there though. What I did want to make clear was that, despite some of the grievances that I’m about to spew forth, I have absolutely no intention of taking any of the shine off Owen’s incredible victory; he ripped, he competed very cannily and he deserved the title. No question.

Now, let’s dissect this contest…

I’ll start with the positives:

  • Owen Wright. I think we mentioned this earlier
  • Steph! Could this be her comeback year? The way she looked you’d be hard-pressed to deny her potential
  • There were waves. Pretty good ones at some stages of the contest. Considering the lacklustre initial forecast, it was great to see some classic Snapper conditions
  • They ran the contest on consecutive days. None of the hold-surf-hold cycles where all rhythm, anticipation and engagement is lost due to stop/start momentum; consecutive days of competition are where it’s at
  • The title is open wide: JJF looks dangerous, maybe even more so than last year; Slater has shown enough improvement to warrant hope; Medina was on fire before (and even after) his injury; Owen is back with a vengeance; Mick and Joel were blazing, and; even Wilko did enough to convince us that last year wasn’t just a fluke. That’s not even mentioning the other threats who failed to go far: Jordy, Filipe, Julian
  • The rookie class could cause some serious headaches for the rest of the tour: Connor was very dangerous; Frederico and Zeke had big wins (over the same guy); Ewing was unlucky not to go further, and; Gouveia silenced a few doubters. The only two that looked a little flat were Joan and Leo, who both lost convincingly to former ROTY surfers.
  • The commentary changes mostly worked well: Peter Mel was pretty solid in the booth; Barton was his usual excellent self; Kaipo tried to limit his irritations, and; some of the water interviews were good. I particularly liked Mel & Blakey’s banter. Ross was missed though
  • That little post-heat moment between Kelly and Gabriel while they waited for the scores to drop
  • The fact that Mikey Wright is committing to a full tilt at the QS and a shot a qualifying in 2018
  • Tour notes is one of the best things about the WSL contests. I’m loving the little snippets behind the scenes
  • Italo! They guy is an excitement machine
  • Lastly, a massive shout-out to Grant, who was out first-ever donor via PayPal. We appreciate the generosity!

Now for some criticisms. Let’s start with the judging…

Surfing is subjective; I get that. We can’t expect all surf fans to appreciate the exact same style, approach, technique or choice of manoeuvre as one another in a sport that is so diverse and personal. There is no ‘one’ way to ride a wave, and while we can almost all agree on what good and bad surfing looks like, what we are asking our sport to do is to decide which of two or three surfers is ‘better’ within a 30-minute window. Our judging system is the best way that we currently know of to do this; five judges, drop the extremes, find an average. That seems fair to me.

What isn’t fair is the seeming emergence of the judging ‘agenda’. I don’t know if it comes straight from Richie Porta, or elsewhere, but I know that it creates a veritable mixed bag for pros, fans, commentators and fantasy players alike when a particular approach or criteria seems to be garnering the preference of the judges at particular contests. Are the judges rewarding barrels at this event? On-rail surfing? Vertical manoeuvres in the pocket? Variety? Progression? Who knows until the contest starts and a pattern starts to emerge…

The official line from the WSL website is that the judges analyse the following elements when scoring waves:

  • Commitment and degree of difficulty
  • Innovative and progressive maneuvers
  • Combination of major maneuvers
  • Variety of maneuvers
  • Speed, power and flow

I can’t fault any of them; they are a comprehensive list of quality surfing criteria. However, the apparent agenda seems to emerge when certain elements of the criteria are given more weight than others. For example, here’s how I saw Snapper being scored:

  1. Combination of major maneuvers
  2. Speed, power and flow
  3. Innovative and progressive maneuvers
  4. Commitment and degree of difficulty
  5. Variety of maneuvers

Barrels were hit-and-miss with the judges, as were airs. Variety was often ignored, especially for some backhand surfers (yes, I recognise that there was slight variation in a number of similar manoeuvres, but they were still highly similar). Even commitment and degree of difficulty was neglected in some places, with safer surfing scoring well. Yet even this doesn’t frustrate me a great deal.

Here’s what annoys me: the hierarchy for these criteria seems to change without notice. I can deal with them being weighted, and I can deal with the weighting being adjusted between venues (i.e. barrels for Tahiti, progression for Brazil, etc.), BUT there has to be transparency. For the surfers. For the fans. For the commentators who sometimes sound as bewildered as the rest of us. And for the god-damned fantasy players who have their pride and/or money to lose amongst their mates. Tell us what the judges are looking for, BEFORE the contest starts, and we will all understand the process. Please. Because this crap shoot system is leaving me a little jaded.

Rant over.

I mean, nearly over; I have a few more criticisms of the contest:

  • The finals were held in shitty waves compared to the rest of the event. How do we fix this? One of two ways: less heats (and less surfers on tour), OR stop combining the men’s and women’s events. A third model has been suggested whereby each event has a much bigger window (overlapping with other events) and the WSL uses a BWT system so that surfers are given a few days’ notice to get their arses to the venue, but I’m not sure that this would work.
  • What’s with the WSL allowing freesurfers to just hang around catching left-overs at the end-section of the contest site? Get them the hell away.
  • Where’s Rosie?
  • What happened to the WSL app? There were some dodgy things going on at times.
  • I know I ranted on judging earlier, but there were 4 particular heats that I think were debatable at best: Filipe losing R1, Medina vs. Slater, Owen vs. Mick, JJF, vs. Wilko. What did the rest of you think?


Clubhouse Results

Congratulations to the following clubhouse champions:

Surf-Stats WSL group (overall) – Furt Surfboard finished with 569.89 points and just edged out my personal team MF Boom for top position. Bastard.

Surf-Stats FS group event – well, we screwed this up somewhat. We now have two FS clubhouses, one from last year and a new public one this year. Here are both results:

Public Clubhouse: suberimakuri, with 873 points and 854th place overall

Private Clubhouse (password SS): All Push, with a respectable 932 and 203rd place overall.

We will most likely consolidate these two clubhouses together, depending on numbers.


Best Possible Team

This 695.7 point team was not selected by any teams, however Surfadas&Pranchadas and Newy green tied for first with a close 659.29. Wilko at 10% and Frederico at 3% were quality selections.


Worst Possible Team

The reigning Pipe champ, a former event winner and an AHS stats favourite were all in this list. Julian actually did OK, but he was still the 2nd-lowest Tier A option.


Surf-Stats Projection Reflections

Surf Stats WSL Numbers WSL

Barely a pass-mark. Tier A were solid, and Joel was too, but Filipe, Wiggolly, Mick and Ewing under-performed.

Surf-Stats FS Numbers

Pretty similar to above. Just substitute Toledo for Duru.

Event awards

These winners are in the running to claim the overall SS awards at the end of the year:

Best wave: Slater’s R3 gem against Frederico was classic Snapper, as was Mick’s under-scored 7.17 against Owen, but the wave of the contest has to go to Zeke’s 10. How many people would kill for one of those Superbank sets?

Best heat: Flores vs. Ace in R2 was tight. Owen vs. Mick was pretty epic as well. Slater vs. Medina had it all, but the Jordy vs. Zeke, in perfectly barrelling dusk conditions was what this contest is all about. It’s just a pity about the fat sections through the middle.

Biggest disappointments: Filipe hurt a lot of people’s team, but the judging inconsistencies and the poor waves in the final were the equal losers for this event.

Best Manoeuvre: Was there any doubt? Italo has won three of these awards now if memory serves correct.

Most impressive: Owen, Owen and Owen. I still can’t believe what he’s achieved. Connor O rates a distant second.

For now, we’re done. We don’t have long before the Margaret River contest, so we’ll crunch the numbers and get them out soon.

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