The Inertia

Complaining about WSL scoring has become a regular occurrence in recent seasons. However, after a surprise loss to Cole Houshmand in the round of 32 at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Gabriel Medina fired a howitzer right across the judges table.

The point of contention happened at the very end of the heat. Medina was in the lead and holding priority, when a wave approached Houshmand’s position. Despite having the opportunity to burn Houshmand and quash any scoring chance, Medina let it go. From there, Houshmand fired off five turns that landed him a 7.47. With that, he eclipsed Medina’s high score of 7.10 (around the 19-minute mark in the video) and clinched the victory. It was the wave of the heat, on paper at least.

In an interview on the beach, Laura Enever asked Medina about the decision to let Cole go after the wave. “Tough end to the heat there, Gabby,” she said. “I’m sure you’re very disappointed. A big mistake, there, letting that wave go on to priority.”

However, Medina bristled at the characterization that he was at fault. “I did the mistake? This is funny,” he replied. “This is the worst judging I have ever seen. It’s bad for the sport. I’ve been through a lot of judging things, but maybe this is the worst one.”

“It’s something that we gotta talk about. We pretend that it’s not happening. It’s happening. It’s bad for the sport. I just hope they can improve and get better. Hopefully they listen more to us, but it is what it is.”

From Medina’s perspective, Houshmand’s wave that clinched the victory just wasn’t significant enough. He seemed somewhat bemused that the wave of the heat could be so small that he didn’t even bother to paddle for it. More than anything, he just seemed disappointed, both to lose on a call he didn’t agree with, and for the end of all his training and traveling to end in an early loss.

In Houshmand’s post-heat interview, he seemed surprised that Medina let the wave go by. “[Medina] was sitting inside me, so I knew he was going to try to burn me on a good one,” he told Enever. “I saw it coming and it wasn’t the biggest wave, but it broke far out. I was like, ‘I might as well go and do a turn before he can go and see if he goes or not.’” When Medina didn’t react, even after that first turn dropped buckets of water right on his head, Houshmand slammed into a second, more authoritative snap. “At that point, I knew there was only two minutes left,” he added, “So I as like, ‘I might as well surf the rest of the wave,’ and it had a good inside to it.'”

However, the CT rookie was still gracious to his opponent, who he has previously cited as a personal favorite of his. “He’s probably one of the smartest competitors on the planet,” added Houshmand. “For me, that heat was more of a big deal than winning the comp or the title. Just to have a heat with someone like that at the highest level is a dream for me. To come out on top is another check on the box”


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