The first event of the 2008 world tour season is in the books, and, after finishing second in the world last year, Sofia Mulanovich has once again asserted her dominance over the rest of the pack. Ultimately running away with heat, the final was relatively anticlimactic, which is probably all right with Sofia, who after her win is obviously leading the world rankings.
Now that's not to say it hasn't been an interesting day at the beach. Standing out most was one particular wave score in the first semifinal—a heat featuring a surging 15-year-old Carissa Moore versus tour vet Sam Cornish. After upsetting Steph Gilmore, knocking out Melanie Bartels, on an obvious roll, Carissa appeared to be well on her way to the final. She was, to put it simply, and with the possible exception of Steph, the best surfer in the contest.
About halfway through the semi, Sam caught a mid-size set wave, and that's when things got controversial. ASP judges awarded her a nine-plus score for the effort, which must have seemed like manna from heaven for Sam, but put Carissa clearly behind the 8-ball. It probably wouldn't have stung so much if she'd actually deserved the score, but Sam surfed safe, conservative, or to put it bluntly, boring.
"If that was a nine, Carissa's wave before that should have been a 12," surmised Maui upstart Dusty Payne, who was down on the beach watching the contest with Kolohe Andino, Coco Ho and Monyca Byrne-Wicky. "That was rip off I've ever seen."
"Well, the judges just set women's surfing back another five years," added a photographer who was standing nearby shooting the heat. "It's beyond me how you can compare the turns Sam was milking to Carissa's. It's a travesty."
Now, the judges saw what they saw, and rewarded Sam for a reason, it's just that every other person on the beach figured it otherwise. Carissa, who throughout her budding career has always exuded graciousness both in victory and defeat, was handed a stinging loss, making her way up the beach with a tear meandering down her cheek—and by the way, she was still gracious, just a little heartbroken.
So, that's the nuts and bolts of the final day at Snapper. Congratulations to Sofia, job well done. The controversy between Sam, Carissa, and the judges shouldn't diminish the win. And congratulations to all the other girls too, it was a hell of a show. Up next the ladies are headed to Bells, but before that, we have two more days of men's surfing on tap here at Snapper, and considering some of the match-ups, there's some fun ahead.