“Well, that would’ve been a big number even in the men’s competition!”
Ronnie Blakey exclaimed at the sight of Tati Weston-Webb polishing off what turned out to be a perfect ten-pointer in Round 1 at the Roxy Pro France. He was right — it was an amazing wave, and it might have been a great score on the men’s side of things. But what perked my interest was the blatant comparison.
The difference between the men’s scoring and the women’s is implicit. We all know it’s there. We all know that the girls aren’t held to the same judging scale as the men. But with the girls progressing now faster than ever, how long can the judges just keep handing out 16 point heat totals like they’re frisbees at a high school job fair?
I don’t think I’ve ever watched more girls competition than I have in the past two years. I find myself getting sucked in, picking favorites, picking underdogs, keeping that webcast tab open long after Kieran calls it off for the men. And it’s because the girls are ripping – I genuinely enjoy watching them surf. Women’s surfing is on the rise and only gaining steam, but I’m worried that the breezy judging scale is going to hold the sport back.
Yeah, Tati had a great little tube to hack pairing, but what happens when Carissa goes out and does the same thing with a big ol’ air to finish? A 17.4? I love that the WSL judges appreciate the women’s surfing — but if continuous progression is what we’re after, you can’t keep scoring them with such generosity. They’re going to grow, and you need to give them some space to do so. Stop sandbagging the ladies and bump those standards up a bit. They won’t mind, and neither will we. -Dayton Silva