Yesterday, the final four heats of Round Three were completed in small, mushy surf and Mick, AI, and Damo all won their heats in quick succession. If you watch the highlight video on the Billabong Pro website you’ll see you didn’t miss a thing. The waves were dreadful and the weather the same.
With Marco Polo’s loss in Heat 15, he claimed the final spot on the ASP’s hit list, and Patrick Guduaskas moved up into the Top 32. With that news, the shine from Pat’s 1000-watt smile was enough to cause the sun to come out, the wind to back off, and a few decent little waves to peel down the reef. In a flurry of knifing backside snaps, Chris Davidson attempted to bring Pat back down to earth. But on Pat's last wave, needing a score that seemed impossible on such a small wave, Pat proved once again he belongs with the big boys by completing a smooth-as-silk rodeo. The 8.1 he received was enough to advance, but with the day’s conditions and previous action being so dismal, the first rodeo ever completed in World Tour competition deserved a score in the 9-point range.
While I’m on the topic of judging: In my opinion, this year's Teahupoo event has been one of the hardest to judge so far this year. Numerous heats have seen similarly ridden small tubes to similarly completed snap/cutback combos, or one guy getting a nice tube and no turns while the other gets a crap tube and big turns. There is no clear way to separate the scores in such instances and the subjective nature of judging surf competitions rears its ugly head. When a heat and a place on Tour is lost by less than half a point, as Dingo and Nate Yeomans experienced in Round 3, there is rarely a performance difference between the winners and losers in that heat. The only difference is in each one of the five judges' perception of said performance. And for every different grouping of five judges you almost certainly would see a different result. They might as well flip a coin in heats that finish up with less than a half point separation. That way at least you take the human bias aspect out of the equation. Because no matter how hard anybody claims to have no favoritism, nobody is perfect and an 8.8 instead of an 8.7 at a crucial juncture is very easy to justify.
The next round should see more close heats, as several Round 4 match-ups look to be scorchers. Personally, I’m planning my Hurricane Earl sessions so I will be able to watch Dane vs CJ, Owen vs Fred, and Mick vs AI. If the waves cooperate, you can count on these guys to really put on a show as they face-off against an equally talented opponent.