Did Zeke Go Too Far? - Stab Mag

Live In 8 Days: Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy


Did Zeke Go Too Far?

In his Round 3 clash against John John Florence, Zeke Lau used every dirty (and legal) trick in the book to ensure victory. We’re asking our readers, were his action a little overboard, or all part of the game?

news // Apr 4, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

After our How To Beat John John Florence piece earned over 100 combative comments, and Zeke’s John-trolling Instagram post amassed over 300 fan’s opinions, it’s clear that the debate over “unsportsmanlike” behavior in surfing competitions is still alive and well.

And just to be clear, when we talk about “unsportsmanlike” behavior, we’re talking about Zeke physically blocking John from moving deeper in the lineup during a non-priority situation, and then sitting mere inches from John, and occasionally paddling tight circles around him/over his board, while the Champ was waiting for a wave. 

With the contest off today, I thought it might be fun to further discuss this hot-button issue. Rather than sharing my own (admittedly ambivalent) thoughts on the matter, I figured I’d let the surfing public explain whether or not Zeke’s antics were justified in the modern era of professional surfing.

Below are some of the more poignant cases against Zeke’s actions, via his own Instagram thread:

@barrellbob: I was a fan of your surfing , but that was really disappointing today . You didn’t just compete for priority , you were a thug and bully all heat and took advantage of your friendship with JJF . Cheap win

@azilhao: Good surfing, JJ lacked the competitive mind but your aggressive strategy was, in my humble and totally indifferent opinion, too much. You can be aggressive and competitive with style and education

@wicksy79: Used to have so much admiration and respect for you, you’re a brilliant surfer. Such a shame you had to play that way. And shame on you more if you’re actually proud of it.

@aaronkvillarreal: Being competitive shouldn’t be faulted, but acting like an asshole should be.

@worklurk: You could keep paddling over people like a dickhead in heats. Or you could actually work on surfing better than the guys you compete against. The latter is a lot more fun to watch. Way to make pro surfing a kookish jock sport again… thought that lame shit died off in the 90s.


Note: this clip shows the heat’s surfing, but not Zeke’s questionable behaviors.

And here are some of the most poignant counter-arguments, also from Zeke’s IG:

@roemama: It’s a competition! Do what it takes to win within the rules and get it done & that’s what he did!

@chad_n: it wasn’t unnecessary. If John would’ve got that first wave which is what Zeke was holdin him off of he would’ve never had that 7.0, the highest wave of the heat. So yeah it was a tactic that worked.

@cpmosher: Everyone complaining can go buy their ticket to the WSL Founders Cup now. Future “Arena” surfing will be a single surfer waiting for a single wave in a @kswaveco pool. But for now, we’re watching surfers compete in a real ocean without priority at the start of the heat. As @john_hook said, JJF got his 2 waves and ultimately it was Zekes 2 waves that were better. Plain and simple. Rooting for you Hawaiian! Go Zeke!!!

@georgeteidson: yessir! the world aint all sunshine and rainbows its a hard, brutal place. if you aint a hard, brutal competitor prepare to take your licks. some people gotta man up. go zeke

@h0lym0li: the only “bullshit” happening around here is coming from you “dickheads” and all you other haters out there. if you’re all just gonna cry and complain about zeke winning then tell your boy @john_john_florence to step it up next time and compete. real champions dont let the competition get in their head nor do they get intimidated. period. zeke’s scores were better in the end anyway

Having read both sides and considered their respective merits, it’s time for you to choose.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

How To Win Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy

A statistical analysis of the 493 airs attempted in previous chlorinated editions.

Jun 16, 2024

Watch: An Intimate Portrait Of The Wave, Village, And People At The End Of The Road

Oxbow’s ‘Children of Teahupo’o’ is playing exclusively on Stab Premium for the next two weeks. 

Jun 15, 2024

Fuck It, Run The Entire CT In Indo

A historic beginning to the Indonesian dry season.

Jun 14, 2024

Ferrari Boyz: Holly Wawn

"I've had 4, 5, maybe 6 cars... I'm a car dealer I reckon."

Jun 13, 2024

A Miscalculated Shallow Dive, Neck-First, Into The Waters Of Japanese Surfing

How is surfing different in the land of cherry blossoms?

Jun 13, 2024

How Has Ian Crane Made 4/5 Stab High Finals?

And who he's most afraid of competing against in Japan.

Jun 13, 2024

“I Haven’t Seen Anyone That Young And That Keen For Heavy Waves In A Decade” —Shane Dorian

Jacob Turner is 16 years old and trying to paddle tow sets at Teahupo'o...on his…

Jun 12, 2024

Long Read: 1,000 Ways To Die In Indonesia

18,000 islands of beautiful people, world-class waves, and danger around every corner.

Jun 11, 2024

Watch: Craig Anderson And Kaito Ohashi Find (Mostly) Empty Waves In Southeast Asia

Oh, and enter to win a grand worth of DB gear.

Jun 11, 2024

Brad Gerlach Rode A 600cc Motorbike Through Europe’s 1980’s Psychedelic Renaissance  

"Fuck London. Let’s just buy motorcycles tomorrow and drive to France, man."

Jun 11, 2024

Caroline Marks Goes Two-In-A-Row And John John Florence Wins First CT Event Since 2020 At The Surf City El Salvador Pro

Plus, we asked Chris Cote for a look into the commentary team's psyche and Griff…

Jun 9, 2024

Why Is Mavericks Core Getting Overrun By Yuppies?

And other questions from our audience — answered by Pete Mel, Mick Fanning, and Joel…

Jun 9, 2024

Everything Worth Remembering From 4 (Mostly) Forgettable Quarterfinals In El Salvador

Plus, what's the consensus on the Griff vs. João kerfluffle?

Jun 8, 2024

Wildcard Big-dogs Italo, Yago Pops The Cork, And Griffin Cops An Ambiguous Interference On Day 2 In El Salvador

"Honestly, that was a bad... uhh I mean, a tough call." - Strider

Jun 8, 2024

Let’s Talk About This Griffin Interference…

"Don't hate the player, hate the game." - Joao Chianca.

Jun 8, 2024

Chippa Wilson Picks The Air Section We’ll Be Using For Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

PerfectSwell Shizunami has 4 ramps to choose from — which one excites our 2019 champ?

Jun 8, 2024

JJF And Yago Soar, Brisa And Molly Sear, And Olympic Surfers Get Drug Tested On Day 1 Of Surf City El Salvador Pro

"These rocks are like basketballs covered in slime."

Jun 7, 2024

Cheat Codes: Optimizing Surfing’s Pain-To-Joy Ratio With Mason Ho

How to keep your skull intact, your forecast accurate, and your morale unbothered — no…

Jun 6, 2024