Stab Magazine | "I Don't Get Fucking Paid Like You, Brah"
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“I Don’t Get Fucking Paid Like You, Brah”

The Nate Florence/Makai McNamara Volcom Pipe Pro kerfuffle is worth revisiting.

cinema // Mar 7, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

You might remember this year’s Volcom Pipe Pro for any number of noteworthy events. 

For instance, the fact that it ran for four straight days, three of which were legitimately pumping. Or the fact that John Florence pulled out last second, leading to a hot hot rumor that Kelly Slater would replace him, which turned out to be entirely untrue. Or that Wiggolly Dantas won the comp without even packing a tube on finals day (two eights for straight turns!)

But perhaps the most interesting moment of the event came in Round 4 Heat 1, when locals Nate Florence and Makai McNamara crossed wires. 

The situation was as follows: 

With sub-10 seconds left on the clock, both Nathan (3rd) and Makai (4th) needed a score or above to advance. A quality wave approached. Makai held priority. Needing over an eight to advance, the Liam’s eldest son paddled back behind the peak to get as deep as possible (this led Nate to believe that Makai was going left). Makai then knifed into the precarious but potentially-makeable righthander, only to be stuffed 20 yards down the line by the surfer in green, Mr. Nathan Florence. 

Nate’s wake chandeliered Makai’s section, forcing him to fall and break his board. Nate got an insignificant barrel on the end of the wave. 

The next thing we saw was Makai gesticulating angrily in Nate’s direction. After that, nothing. No mention from the commentators, no scenes from the beach.

Later that day, we DMed Nate to find out what happened:

Stab: Nate Dog! What happened with Makai? Did you just not see him?

Nate: Total accident thought he went left, would never burn him intentionally. Don’t blow it out on social I don’t want any drama.

Stab: We figured as much. And yeah, no worries. Did you guys sort it out?

No response. 

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Well, thanks to Red Bull’s “People Watching” series, we now know (more or less) how Nate and Makai’s post-heat interaction transpired.

Makai hit Nate with a well-deserved “what the fuck?” and Nate replied with “I thought you were going left!”

After receiving further validation from his brother that he would have made the wave, Makai threw out a, “I don’t get fucking paid like you, brah.”

Scintillating.

But if we take a step back from the shoreline drama, this incident raises an important question about interference rules in four-man heats. 

I think most (if not all) of us can agree that Makai got screwed here.

While Nate’s decision to burn Makai was likely accidental, it also prohibited Makai from potentially making the heat with no implication toward Nate’s own advancement (as Nate was also in a non-advancement position and this was the last wave of the heat).

Now, imagine a situation where Nate blocked Makai on purpose to block for a friend (or brother) who was in an advancing position. That seems like it shouldn’t be possible, yet with our current priority/interference system, it is. 

To be clear, I’m all for using the rulebook to your advantage. What Medina did to Caio at Pipe was brilliant and one of my favorite moments from 2019. But this situation is different because it’s not a man-on-man heat. By dropping in on Makai, Nate suffers no personal penalty and directly helps the second-place surfer hold their position. Meanwhile Makai, who had priority, is completely fucked by no fault of his own. 

It just doesn’t seem right, but in fairness to the WSL, I can’t think of a simple solution. 

Maybe Stace Galbraith and I will discuss this in our next Stab CUSP podcast, dropping soon. 

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