Breaking down the controversy: Medina, Wilson Portugal Pro Final

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There’s been a hell of a lotta talk this week about the whole Medina, Wilson final. And I think I speak on behalf of all surf fans when I say, Medina was definitely robbed, he was much cleaner and had so much more style than Wilson in that final, but yet this didn’t reflect on his scores at all.

The issue for me here is plain and simple, consistency, Medina’s first scoring wave consisted of a tricky air trick, a tailslide, a lipper and a floater, combined with a 3 second barrel, executed real well and on one of the biggest waves of the heat. He was due for big scores, surprisingly it only fetched 7.90, which is fair enough, we all have to set the scoring benchmark and it was set right there, it’s the scoring AFTER this that concerns me.

Wilson’s final wave was of a similar ilk to Medina’s first, the 3 second barrel, 3 non critical manoeuvres but NO AIR and personally I don’t think he cut it as deep as Medina’s, but that’s all opinion… But the facts stated earlier are not opinion, they are a fact, anybody who has any fleeting interest in surfing can clearly see that Medina displayed more manoeuvres and executed them better, end of conversation, end of contest, Medina wins, right? Wilson’s 8.43 score is in my eyes absurd, the wave never looked right, he never looked comfortable, his barrel was just ok and his manoeuvres looked forced.

This is in no way having a pop at Julian Wilson, he’s a talent, seemingly nice guy and didn’t surf too badly in the final either, it needs to be made clear that he is an innocent bystander and an unfortunate victim of this, despite winning his maiden ASP title he must surely feel that it has been overshadowed and slightly ruined by this whole debate, which is sad. I hope that he in no way feels guilty or at fault, because at the end of the day he was just out there competing like any other surfer would.

It’s clear to me that the judging has to be tweaked, although these guys will get it right 9/10 and the conditions at Portugal were pretty weird, but that’s no excuse. You will get an unusual contest every season, a contest where perhaps neither barrels or manoeuvres are favoured (as was the case here) But that’s no excuse to get it wrong. We must strive to get the right result every time and I think the following changes could go a long way to fixing this rare, but ugly issue.

An ex-pro surfer on the panel- It just makes sense, somebody who’s been out there, experienced the waves and knows what’s hardest and what’s more technical.

Utilising the camera angles- Thanks to modern technology, we can see a wave from pretty much every angle on our TV screens, so why not give the judges the same viewpoint? I’ll be dammed if not at least one of the judges watched that final from the TV and thought “whoops…”

Referral System- I think this could really work, if a surfer objects to a score on a wave/contest then he can refer it, obviously some sort of rule or limitation must be applied or it’ll become tedious. But it works in many other sports nowadays and i‘ve only ever known it to be a success, so why not surfing?

This is simply an expression of my views and I just want justice and fairness in surfing, as we all do.

This is the part where it really gets ugly for me, the unfortunate effect that this controversy had immediately afterwards. Now we are all taught about fair play and losing graciously and all that when we are kids and It’s normally kept in check round the world in any sport. But let’s be honest, when we feel as though we’ve been screwed over how many of us think “to hell with sportsmanship” I can tell you now, I do. And no it isn’t right but that’s the competitive nature of sportspeople. And Gabriel Medina is definitely a competitive sportsman, surfing has kinda gone through a bit of a lull the past couple of years, it all seemed a bit too friendly and dare I say it, amateur. Gabriel has brought back some of that competitive edge that Slates and Irons had during their rivalry, a bit of passion, intensity and the will to win, which I think is great. So of course it was wrong for him to storm off the presentation ceremony and to say some of the things he said to the media, anybody can tell you that. But how would you react in that situation? Baring in mind he’s had a few “dubious” decisions before (where his behaviour was very professional) but I get the feeling this one really took the biscuit with him. That being said, disrespecting and embarrassing Julian as he (unintentionally) did has hardly covered himself in glory and he’ll be regretting that now.

Even though Brazilian surfing has a somewhat strained relationship with the rest of the world’s surfing communities, there are still many respected figures backing Gabriel on this one.

“I’m an Australian surf journo and I think Gab was robbed blind,” tweeted author and former Surfing Life and Tracks editor, Tim Baker.

American Matt Warshaw, author of the Encyclopedia of Surfing, poignantly wrote on his Twitter, “Even adjusting for bias, adjusting for lingering Brazilian dislike from rest of surf world — Medina STILL won that thing.”



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