WSL Admits They Underscored Nat Young's 4.03 - Stab Mag

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Saltiness validated. The WSL issued a statement today conceding the head judges got it wrong. Photo: WSL/Shield

WSL Admits They Underscored Nat Young’s 4.03

But it doesn’t matter in the end.

news // May 2, 2024
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

In a rare if highly applaudable turn of events, the WSL has taken to Instagram to admit that they underscored Nat Young’s 4.03 in yesterday’s Gold Coast Pro (read the full story behind that moment and the WSL’s broader judging issues here).

“The Head Judge and Nat met for a heat review and watched all of the waves from Nat, Mikey and Charly. It was recognized and acknowledged that Nat’s 4.03 was in fact underscored and the wave should have been in the 5 or 6-point-range. Even though it was not the 7.21 that Nat needed to get into an advancing position, we still wanted to acknowledge the error,” reads the WSL’s statement on IG.

Publicly admitting fault is a strong response to the backlash. “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them,” penned leadership guru, John C. Maxwell.

A total of 31 waves were surfed in the third, 4-man heat of the round of 32. For the judges, keeping the scores updated and accurate would have been incredibly challenging, especially towards the end of the heat which saw several waves being ridden without a break. More importantly, getting it right in this instance also wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the heat (or so say the judges) — ergo, no harm, no foul.

Kelly Slater since responded saying, “Seems like judging has really gone down the ‘size of wave’ direction instead of a focus on the best actual surfing. I do like it being acknowledged and addressed here. Should be no defensiveness in these calls as we are all human.”

Gabriel Medina wrote, “I’m just here for the comments” with an accompanying popcorn emoji.

The last time to our knowledge the judges have publicly admitted a scoring error was in Jbay 2017, where Jordy Smith was forced to have two re-surfs in the same day against Conner Coffin and Filipe Toledo, after beating them once already.

It should also be noted that on October 2023, the WSL appointed Luiz “Luli” Fernando Steffen Pereira as the new Director of Officiating and Head Judge, succeeding Pritamo Ahrendt. Luiz serves as head judge for all tours (CT, CS and QS) and unofficially as the effigy/punching bag/scapegoat for disgruntled surfers and surf fans. 


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