Baby, Take It Off!: A Fine American Solution

posted by / Blogs / December 19, 2013

Pipeline. Photo: Brent BielmannPhoto: Brent Bielmann

Baby Take It Off!Mick Fanning is your 2013 ASP World Champion and bravo to him and hooray for him. He won his third title on a large day at Pipeline with Ke11y waiting in the wings, waiting for him to stumble. He won, in the dying minutes, against CJ Hobgood and he won, in the dying seconds, against Yadin Nicol. But was his wave against Yadin overscored?

Those standing on the beach thought “NO!” and they roared as one. Those watching the webcast thought “YES!” and they drew sharp breaths of ire. In clinical retrospect it certainly does appear that his wave was overscored, particularly as it compares to Yadin’s wave earlier in the heat. It appears as if the judges may have been swayed by the great collective roar.

Now, everyone knows that even the best judging will be subjective. But when a giant mob is roaring, roaring, roaring and then staring back at the judges scaffolding then roaring some more it is very difficult to vote against them. The judges gave the mob what it wanted. Very difficult not to.

But there is a solution! Just as my bank has outsourced its call center to India, the ASP should outsource its judging there. Auditions can be held around the sub-continent and the best and brightest will be given judging jobs. Once hired, they will be trained in the arts of surf. What does it mean to be “on the foamball?” Why is a giant slob better than a simple alley-oop? And when their training is complete they can remotely judge surf competitions based purely upon what they see in front of them. They will have no bias, most likely having never heard of either Mick Fanning or Ke11y. They will not be swayed by the roaring mob on the beach, sitting in air-conditioned sterility right down the hall from my bank’s call center. They will judge perfectly, and at a fraction of the cost.

Yes, outsourcing is an ingenious American solution to rising health care costs, shareholder demands for massive earnings and workplace regulation. It should be the ASP’s solution to fear as well. —Chas Smith

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  • SurfingKook

    This is a GREAT idea! Have a group of 5 people watch and judge from a webcast with no volume or outside influences. Randomize the judges with professional surfers of all eras so you have a balance in the criteria. Example: Judges are Ratboy and Sunny Garcia. Ratboy will give higher scores for aerials whereas Sunny would obviously give higher scores for carves. This balances out the score. I feel like the judges now are old guys who only want to see carves which takes half the skill compared to an aerial. It’s BS when Mick repeats 3 identical carves and scores 9’s when Medina pulls 1 carve and a huge 360 aerial and is scored 8. Mick should not have won the title this year. The judges handed it to him. But you can’t be mad at Mick…what’s he supposed to do..hand it back?! Personally, the judging turned me off so much this year I stopped watching when they got to Trestles. Either way the tour needs change.

  • Hodge


    Your name is very becoming, at least the Kook part. It is obvious you are young and dumb when it comes to the skills involved in surfing maneuvers. A big straight air is a lot more difficult than any 360 air and a big mean carve is timeless, that is why you see people that can barely surf doing 360 aerials. I agree %100 that the judging sucks and is bias towards the top performers for sure. It was interesting to hear Ke11y’s comments how Mick got overscored on his wave that was not as good as Yadin’s, kinda like the Lowers final against Taj a few years back except that was in kelly’s favor, I remember the judge’s saying how Kelly surfed the bad wave better than Taj surfed the good one.

  • Ben

    As tongue and cheek as this is, the sentiment is correct: Judges should not be so subject to emotion that objectivity is lost. And judges should definitely not keep tabs on what score a surfer “needs” to advance. At least this way the winners can come by it honestly; there are no more asterisks by the title, a la Kelly’s win over Macca in 2005 at trestles, Micks’s two heats at Pipe this year, etc.

  • Nich

    The objectivity is achievable but with a lot of effort. The fact that all of the qualification and championship needs were published and talked about for so long made the fact that Mick got pushed through not a surprise. The judges don’t mean to but its what happens. The emotion gets in the way. The blinders need to be put on the horse. The judges cannot be spectators. They must not be privy to the tour scenarios and the scores needed. They shouldn’t become emotionally involved and swayed by the emotion of the crowd. Yadin surfed a better wave and should have won but the fact that Mick was on the verge of a championship and cheers of the crowd lost Yadin the heat.

  • Rob

    I truly believe that Mick got the scores he needed…and I was rooting hard for King Kelly…I was so bummed when Mick got the 9.7! But he deserved it…congrats,Mick, but look out in 2014. Kelly surfed the best he ever has at Cloudbreak and Pipe this year. He’s still the best surfer in the world, that’s just obvious…

  • Mik

    All judges for WTC events must be former top 10 WTC professionals.

    Problem solved.

  • Cristiano

    Pure bullshit. I totally agree with SurfingKook. The scores in France for MIck was fucking shame. The judges totally handed it to Mick Fanning. I think the new management would move the ASP headquarter away from Coollangata. Do you remember the heat between Parko and the french guy in Round 2 in France? They gave the score Parko needed to advance and the Parko wave was just a cutback. The event in France was a huge shame for the Coollie kids. The best part was watching both Coolie Kids be dispacth to Coollangata both in combination on Pipe Semi Finals. They need to move ASP headquarter away from Coollangata, albeit the Coolie kids will get overscored by their beer mates, ASP employees. What a shame!!!

  • Its-usually-Kelly

    Everyone may hate me, but Fannings wave via webcast was better to me. Yades was sick(hes also Australian)and for sure a bigger barrel on the shallower part of the reef. But, it was shorter and not as groomed. Fannings fade was insane(his 2nd huge fade of the day), he was on the foamball, and traveled FOREVER with out a drop of water touching him. His wave turned into a very contestable opponent for Yadins. I herd no roars of people at home in Cali and personally think the judges could give a hoot about 3000 fans yelling. About 30% of the fans are tourist anyway so who cares. I do agree about the judges scoring the top guys a tad more. Kelly rips at pipe(like almost the best) but I have watched him win for years in contest when others are ripping and not even looked at. Sad really.

  • J-dizzle da surf monster

    I agree with hodge. I see kids doing and trying airs all day…lame!!! To drop in, and waste an entire wall that you could do a snap, floater, then carve
    ; just to do 10 pumps to the close out and punt 1 is lame…the same people that do this couldn’t do a full roundhouse to save their life. A true surfer does what ever turn the waves offering, not forcing an air….and yes, mick was over scored compared to yadins wave….HOWEVER, to take a beating like he did and still keep pulling in shows the heart of a champion.

  • real talk
  • jeff mcpherson

    You can dress it up any way you want but whatever explanation that you may come up with will not change the error of the judges who in the wake of the matter seem to be oblivious to the obvious, being that Slater is the un official champ but still CHAMP.Even the website poll was like 67% for Yadin winning that decisive heat which gave it to Fanny

  • george says

    It’s just such a money thing and if kelly won it it might have meant retirement,he said after the finals that one dream was to be in a pipe final with jj so they couldn’t let him win the championship.It’s a shame but that’s the price you pay when winning tournaments can make you a multi millionaire.I think Kelly got robbed but the next day most of us went back to a job and he probably gonna surf some nice waves in hawaii until he decides to do something else.So it ain’t that bad for him it just lowers some peoples respect for tournament surfing that’s all.

  • Bala

    Are all this people really discussing surf judging and surf techniques as a cientific and serious matter? How amusing!

  • Ioan Haumoana

    I was there in 2005 when Kelly beat Phil MacDonald and he was robbed of a win, but looking back at the crowd there was no way in hell that Kelly was going down with a second. It was way overscored and I remember thinking that the score was handed to kelly before he took off on that set wave.

  • Ron Burgandy

    I blame everything on the Russian Judge.

  • Drumerdave13

    In baseball, no matter how boring I think baseball is…. if a guy hits a homerun in the 3rd inning of the last game of the world series, its great and it counts as one run. But in the bottom of the ninth with two outs another guy hits a home run to win the game, that still counts as one run, but that homerun is so much larger than the first one.

  • http://surfingmagazine Bob

    Give the judges earphones so they cannot hear the crowd or heat status. If the judges do not know what a competitor needs the wave score will reflect the ride not who they thought or wanted to win

  • ginz

    you want to see a huge cock-up just let ex pro surfers judge contests

  • jeff

    “that is why you see people that can barely surf doing 360 aerials.” You’re full of shit HODGE. If 360’s are so fucking easy then why don’t we see Mick and Joel doing them all the time? Hmm, repetitive carve or a rad air? Now, I do think that being good at airs doesn’t automatically mean you are good at carves and linking turns, but if your boosting 360 airs then you are a pretty damn good surfer

  • Mike Anderson

    Bla bla bla ……Mick won the title.. Kelly is un real, JJF is off the hook good. I don’t even like Madina, but ya he got robbed a couple times.. This argument will never change, Surfing is subjective. Surfing contests kind of suck, but I loved watching Pipe and Fiji… It’s never going to change guys deal with it.. March and snapper is right around the corner… By the way who are you taking Anderson Silva or Chris Widman? I will go with Silva just like I go with Kelly cuz he the man… And I’m a Seppo….

  • lancethenance

    @Drumerdave13 how exactly are you applying your example to Mick’s wave? because it was in the dying seconds of the heat, it was more significant thus, the over score is justified?
    Any contest that is scored by judges will be subject to questioning. Judges are human, thus, despite any claim of objectivity, there scoring will be subjective. Kelly is over scored all the time… so what’s the big deal. Just like in any sport, the big dogs will get the nod. that’s just how it is…

  • lancethenance

    hey @jeff, you’re so right about that tool Hodge… i’m betting his surfing is limited to video games and the internet.

  • AllKnowingSurfShaman

    I am neither a Fanning nor Slater enthusiast, I am a fan of compelling competition and accurate, objective scoring (as much as possible). Fanning’s last wave was not a 9.7; the judges clearly let other factors such as the crowd and what Fanning needed to advance effect their scoring. This result is undoubtedly poor judging on the ASP’s behalf- I do not believe that an enthusiastic crowd and/or scores needed to advance are acceptable grounds for score miscalculation or error based on subjectivity, whatsoever. Wave scoring needs to at least stay consitent within the context of a single heat- I understand that as the day goes on, conditions change and the amount of heats the judges view provide further context and clarity… And this will effect the way waves are scored forward. But Again, within a single heat, the scoring needs to remain consistent and fair to both surfers. Waves need to be scored from a purely objective surf performance standpoint; zero outside factors should play a role. Mick’s wave was not a 9.7, it was somewhere between 9 to 9.5 max. Mick should have been eliminated, because Yadin out surfed him in reality. And sure enough, Slater won pipe- an extremely hard feat for any surfer- and was not crowned champion specifically because of poor judging. Slater is 12 time world champ in my eyes, and is going for his 13th next year.

  • Kenny

    I got barreled in Mike Hunt

  • Ehab Reda

    That is a Good plan! Include a gaggle of 5 people view in addition to judge coming from a webcast without amount or outside influences. Randomize the particular family court judges along with professional users of most eras thus there is a stability from the criteria. For me please visit

  • Ryan

    You know as much as i respect the guys on the world tour for what they’re doing for the sport and shit i cant say that i actually like the idea of competitive surfing that much. I think the ocean should be a place of enjoyment not a place of battle. But that’s just my oppinion. If u feel the same and u’d just like to see some good old fashioned free surfing check out this video -> <- it's pretty rad and has a fair few hotties and wipeouts in it :)

  • tony carson big island

    Is there anyway we could outsource chas to India?

  • Chickey Mickey

    Charlie don’t surf!!