Can Releasing Free Surf Edits Burden Wave Scores In Competition? - Stab Mag
If you saw Ryan throw these all day long, would you still score him as highly? Photo by Ethan Smith/WSL.

Can Releasing Free Surf Edits Burden Wave Scores In Competition?

A Ry Cal conspiracy.

Words by Ethan Davis

Until 2020, Gabriel Medina was hard to spot on the internet without wearing a contest jersey. His elusiveness was akin to Tommy Curren, another figure whose surfing outside competition was shrouded in mystery. 

It was only later in his Tom’s career when Derek Hynd and the Ripcurl team managed to coax him into hopping on a Search trip to J-Bay in 1992, where we saw, what is in my opinion, the best surfed wave ever caught on tape (on a board he had never ridden, no less).

In the age of social media, releasing low-grade free-surfing edits has become somewhat of a new norm. It’s baked-fresh daily, but without the natural yeast in the ambiance that makes for a truly good sourdough. It uses additive yeast, and indeed it feel yeasty, devoid of the wholesomeness and storytelling that goes into cultivating a good scoby. 

Fuelled by the need to remain relevant or chase cheap dopamine hits or cater to a changing surf industry, or something. The new wave of surf-content has recently kidnapped Medina, and held him hostage in the vlogthropocene (or whatever you call choppy clips stitched together with techno). 

We’ve seen what it can do to a human being. 

It strips them down to their bones and forces them to perform undignified acts of core-surf sacrilege to appease the algorithm’s insatiable desires. Normally it involves stroking ones own horn, flaunting various expensive material goods, splashing images of little-clad women, or riding obnoxiously loud motorbikes in crowded spaces. Occasionally, it involves toying with cats, and stealing obscure pastoral sermons from other World Champions. 

But could releasing free-surf edits as a competitive surfer be shooting yourself in the foot?

In Stab’s The Drop Podcast with Ry Cal he stated the following, “I really try hard not to post any waves before an event. I don’t want people to look and go ‘that’s what he can do at that particular location and he hasn’t done that.’” In the judges eyes, he argues, this might create an anchoring bias whereby you are subconsciously underscored in lieu of how hard you can rip free surfing. 

Is Ry Cal wearing a tin foil hat? Or should we ‘look into it’?.

The online definition of the anchoring effect is: a cognitive bias whereby an individual’s decisions are influenced by a particular reference point or ‘anchor’. In surfing terms, posting free-surfing clips of you ripping whereby you cut together the best clips across multiple sessions, minus the slips and bog-rails, you effectively drop anchor at a point that’s hard to find with the gamut of variables like time-pressure, mind-games and strategic thinking weighing on your mind. 

Fortunately for Gabs he seems to do his best surfing precisely when he’s backed into a corner and the odds are stacked against him. But for the less stony QS/CT guy, it might be something to stew on. 


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