Tensions are high at finals day at the Billabong Pipe Masters. A world title is on the line, and in his round five heat against Kelly Slater, Gabriel Medina pulled a, well, Kelly Slater reminiscent of that wave at Snapper against Joel Parkinson. Joel promptly flipped Kelly the bird before a doggy door exit.
In this scenario, though, Kelly pulled into a righthander hoping for a solid score, and Medina (an adept competitor I might add) chose to put an abrupt stop to Slater’s scoring potential and went straight on a wave. Instead of a middle finger, Kelly decided to throw two frustrated shakas while Medina just shrugged.
With priority, the move wasn’t deemed an interference on Gabriel, and all but put the nail in the coffin for Kelly in the heat.
With a world title on the line, Medina’s commitment to pry Kelly’s (probably) high scoring wave from him shows how he’s not going down in this world title contest without a fight.
For reference, here’s what the WSL Rulebook says about priority and interference calls:
The surfer with priority has the unconditional right of way to catch any wave they choose. Other surfers in the heat can paddle for, and catch, the same wave, but only if they do not hinder the scoring potential of a surfer with priority. A surfer loses priority once they catch a wave and/or a surfer paddles for but misses a wave. If two or more surfers catch a wave, the first surfer to make it to the take-off zone will get priority.
A surfer who hinders the scoring potential of a surfer with priority over them will be given an interference penalty. In most situations, this means that their heat score will be calculated using only their best scoring wave. Except for BWT, if a surfer causes two interferences during a heat they will be disqualified from the heat.