Op-Ed: The Heat Heard Around the World

Some thoughts on the ASP’s retrospection

Adriano de Souza realizing he'll be moving on to the Semifinals. Photo: ASP

Two days after Adriano de Souza's questionable win over Owen Wright in the Quarterfinals at the Billabong Rio Pro, the ASP released a statement on what some bloggers and armchair pundits are calling the worst heat ever judged in the history of professional surfing.

As discussion boards lit up with negative commentary (particularly Facebook comments below the on Heats on demand and the ASP's Twitter mentions) the ASP felt compelled to ask the judges for their reasoning on the scores that have dramatically changed the 2011 world title race.

Here's an excerpt from the statement, as well as the current judging criteria from ASP International:

Surfers must perform to the ASP Judging Key Concepts to maximize their scoring potential.

Judges analyze the following major concepts when scoring waves: commitment and degree of difficulty, innovative and progressive maneuvers, combination of major maneuvers, variety of maneuvers, and speed, power and flow

It is important to note that the emphasis on certain concepts is contingent upon the location and the conditions on the day, as well as changes of conditions during the day.

"Now," continued the ASP judges. "Adriano's final wave was a lot bigger than what was shown online as the camera missed the bottom half of the wave - this makes any subsequent analysis of the heat nearly impossible when utilizing only the Heats on Demand version."

No worries. I found a better angle that shows the full wave.

Rather then accept responsibility and admit to a mistake, the ASP blames the camera crew for not getting the bottom half of the wave, giving online viewers and those who used Heats on Demand a skewed impression of what really happened.

But Matt Wilkinson was there: "Floaters are back!" he said via Facebook and Twitter. And "Floaters are the new air-reverse?" An interesting observation from Wilko, who, in Round One, received an 8.00 for a big air-reverse.

A stunned Owen Wright. Photo: ASP

"Both of Owen's airs were good maneuvers (they are also the bread and butter for nearly every surfer on tour these days)," argued the ASP judges.

What then, I ask, is a floater if it's not a bread-and-butter maneuver?

In mainstream sports when an official makes a mistake they're punished for their slip-up, and often served with a suspension or fine. In March of 2010, the Major League Baseball association fired three of its seven umpire supervisors after a wealth of missed calls during the 2009 postseason. No official word has come from the ASP on whether or not a similar action will be taken.

However, they did release their retrospection on Sunday afternoon, right before they published another release on how we should unite to bring back the G-Land event.

"We want to see another sick lefthander on the schedule for the world's best surfers to tear into. So, ask your grandmas, pool your paper route money, write your local board shop, stage a sit-in in Orange County, hop on Facebook, Twitter, whatever, and let's get this campaign going, " said the ASP.

We should band together? We already have and it's evident on every message board, Twitter feed and Facebook page. The results in Rio were a step back for professional surfing and the victor will forever have an asterisk next to his name.

The ASP concluded their retrospection with: "I pose the question, would you, as a fan of top-level surfing, prefer the surfers to do a good turn on a small easy wave or a good turn on a wave that is going flat-out with a heaving, unforgiving closeout section?"

I'll pose another question: "Since when was a floater considered a turn?"