You saw it. I saw it. And a panel of WSL judges saw it — they gave it a 4.17.
Kelly Slater did one of the weirdest things we’ve ever seen in his Hurley Pro Round 5 heat against Mick Fanning. It was a backside air turned into a catastrophe that he somehow rode out of. Watch it again in the clip above. And see the Instagram we posted of it, featuring a lovely moment from Noah Alani. Note the caption.
It was an opinion that people didn’t necessarily agree with. And when I say “didn’t necessarily agree with” what I mean is “truly despised.” If you’re bored and have a minute, scan the comments on that post. If not, I’ve hand-picked some of my favorites for you. And, fair warning, they’re not short on profanity.
“Are you fucking blind?”
“Just lost respect for this mag.”
“Thank you for your input clowns.”
“Definitely not a 4.17. We don’t need your opinions @surfer_magazine.”
For the record, I don’t really care for Surfer Magazine’s opinions either.
But really? People got that pissed off about this? Let’s all take a minute talk through it, folks.
It was a beautiful mistake. In his post-heat interview, Kelly even said “It’s really surprising the board ended up underneath me in the end.” At no point in the interview did he even hint at the idea that he may have gotten underscored. Honestly, I doubt that thought even crossed his mind. It didn’t cross mine. I mean, he fell. Straight up. He just happened to fall back onto his board and stand back up. It was impressive and entertaining and certainly a display of athletic excellence, but it was not a high score in a WSL heat. Maybe, if after years and years of establishing that “maneuvers” of this nature are rewarded with points, the judges could throw a greater number at it. But not right now, not out of the blue. Surfing will always be subjective and the WSL has subjectively established a system where shit like this only belongs in viral videos.
And that’s the way it should be. The wave was 4. —Brendan Buckley
PS — On that whole look at the turns he did after it! argument: a mid-face 360? This ain’t ESA Easterns.