Hey, judges. We need to have a chat.
You've got a difficult job. I want to acknowledge that right off the bat. But Kelly Slater did not surf a perfect heat.
Kelly’s first 10 was a thing of pure magic. Upon his delayed exit the entire SURFING office erupted, unanimously shouting "10! 10! 10!", like a group of preteens seeing Em Rata for the first time.
Kelly Slater's second 10, alternatively, was followed by a halfhearted shout of "9.5" and then a "Yeah". Not to say we do your job better than you, but…come on guys.
How, in the name of Laird, can you compare those two rides? On the first one, Kelly was so deep that he was not on the foamball, he was the foamball. He was getting barreled by the foamball while getting barreled by the barrel. You could have taken a photo staring directly into that gaping hole, and it would have looked like a wave. A perfect, unridden wave. Lo and behold, Kelly was inside of the fucking thing.
The second wave was a good wave. That's about it. Kelly took off deep, no-hand pumped, set his rail, and shot through it. A nail in the coffin, sure, but not a goddamn sledgehammer to Keanu's head.
Kelly replied, when prompted about feeling a difference between the 10s: "The first one was a more difficult ride, the second one was a more perfect, classic wave. The first one was just so difficult, I wasn't sure they'd give me a 10 for the second." His reaction to the first wave should say it all. If Slater is surprised, it probably deserves more attention than a standard (for him) tube.
So what's the deal? Was the idea of a perfect heat too sweet to pass up, despite the obvious difference in criticalness between the two rides? Or was Richie Porta yelling "10! 10! 10!" like the price of movie theater candy? Really, I'm curious — what happened? Because anyone with eyes, ears (commentators shouting vs. commentators commentating), or a brain could tell you that wasn't a 10, at least when compared to the first one.
Kelly’s 20 point heat should have been 19.5. Maybe 19.67. Watch here, and tell us if you agree.
On a lighter note, I just wanted to mention how proud/stoked/sad we are for Keanu. Little man was smashing guys all event, really putting a lot of weight behind his #heartoverheight claim. He got some epic waves against Slater, probably underscored, and then Slater straight Slater'd him. Keanu then graciously removed his singlet and handed it over to the victor — a keepsake for the king. If more people were like Keanu, professional surfing would be a better place. –Michael Ciaramella