It didn't involve Gabby, but what a great photo! Photo:WSL
The Biggest Scoring Snafu Of 2018
No, it wasn't Panda's (deserved) win or Kolohe's (widely noted) underscore.
Note: This was originally posted in yesterday's contest wrap but we felt it was important enough to discuss on its own platform.
In Men’s Quarterfinal 4 of the Margaret River make-up event at Uluwatu, there was a moment that will forever change the way we think about surf judging. Taking off on a Main Peak bomb, Filipe Toledo unleashed a dizzying series of turn, float, and turn again before pumping toward the Racetrack. It’s there that Willian Cardoso was lying in wait, holding onto the coveted priority, which he used to legally burn Filipe, therefore hindering Fil’s ability to bolster his score down the line.
Surprisingly, after Filipe was forced to exit the ride, Cardoso didn’t kick out but rather surfed the shit out of the wave’s second half, collecting a legitimate score of his own.
A 6.57, to be exact.
Now here’s where it starts getting interesting: Filipe scored a 4.33 for his efforts on the same wave.
If you’re no good at math, that’s a tag-team 10.9*.
But theoretically, and one might even say quite realistically, Filipe Toledo could have surfed the second half of the wave equal-to or better-than Cardoso.
But you can’t get a 10.9 on a wave.
You can only get a 10, and if we were to pretend that Willian didn’t have priority, and Filipe was therefore able to surf the rest of the wave, and he did so exactly the same as Cardoso, I’d be willing to bet that he wouldn’t even have gotten a nine.
But my beliefs are beside the point.
The fact that 10.9 points were garnered on a solitary wave in which a baton was effectively passed from one surfer to another confirms something that most of us have known for years but could never really prove:
In competition, waves and maneuvers are not judged linearly, but instead on a curve.
In other words, maneuvers don’t count for the same amount of points in every circumstance – even within the same heat, or in yesterday’s case, on the same wave. Rather, as you move further up the scoreline, it becomes increasingly more difficult to improve your score.
For instance, there’s a much bigger difference between a 9.8 and a 10, than there is a 3.8 and a 4.
Between a 3.8 and a 4, the difference could be as small a foam climb. Between a 9.8 and a 10, it would have to be a powerful fin-drift or a tidy air rev.
That’s why Willian could get 6.57 on the second half of a wave in which Filipe had already scored a 4.33. Whereas, had Filipe continued on that wave, he could have only acquired 5.67 more points.
But again, he probably wouldn't have, even if he surfed the back half just as well as Willian.
I will attempt to clear this up with the WSL in the coming days.
*For those who will inevitably bring up Slater/Wilko's 17-point combined ride in France (skip to 4:05), this is not quite the same. In France, Slater landed his air in a position that wouldn't have allowed him to continue the wave as well Wilko, whereas Filipe literally kicked out on Willian's heels.