A Brief History Of Competitive Surfing’s Best Meltdowns
Surfers-vs-judges and other post heat fury.
World Tour judging is a thankless job. You’re either loved or despised. Tarnishing a career or crowning a champ (and filling a bank account).
Filipe Toledo stormed the judges‘ tower after being given an interference against Kanoa Igarashi in round three of the Oi Rio Pro. Kanoa would’ve beat Filipe on points regardless, but the loss means a painfully early exit at Filipe’s home event.
As a neither passive nor aggressive individual, I appreciate Filipe’s post-heat fury. Sometimes the emotions of a man are stirred more quickly than his intelligence. As Philadelphia 76er, Allen Iverson, once said: “Fans don’t understand our lives and what we go through.” Surfer outburst can seem unreasonable, but it’s that passion that keeps us coming back
So in tribute of Filipe, we highlight the more colourful surfer-vs-judge and general confrontations we’ve seen in surf. With that, here are six noteworthy WSL/ASP meltdowns caused by a heat result:
After losing his round two heat to Glenn ‘Micro’ Hall at the Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast due to an interference call, the then-world and defending Quik Pro champ, Gabriel Medina, unloaded. Throwing his media training wayside of Kirra, the Brazilian told the world exactly how he was feeling: “Next time Glenn (Hall) says ‘Fuck you’ to me, I’ll teach him some… ” Pete managed to wrestle the microphone away before Gabs could finish, much to the relief of the WSL broadcasting and censorship team. And much to the joy of us viewing a rather vanilla event. Although, Gabs was going to say “… teach him some curse words in Portuguese.” Which is kinda cute.
The career suicide will be televised. In hindsight, it’s odd to believe how unexpected the infamous Todd Kline, Bobby Martinez confrontation was in 2011. Bobby had just won his round two heat against Bede Durbidge at the ASP event in Long Beach, New York. Bobby gleamed in his post heat interview. A Jesus piece dangled around his neck adding an extra layer to the falsified charm. Leaning in, he let out the forever echoed quote that he “doesn’t want to be a part of this fucking tennis tour.”
In 2014, Jeremy lost his J-Bay Open round two heat to Sebastian Zietz in the closing minutes. Fueled with pent up aggression caused by various close heats not going his way, it was the call the broke the Frenchman’s baguette. J-Flo stomped up to the judges’ tower and unleashed a non-lethal verbal assault. Parents covered their children’s ears and Richie Porter slapped Mr Flores with a suspension from that year’s US Open and Billabong Pro, Tahiti.
Like stepfather, like stepson. Is a list of judging confrontations complete without a mention of surfing’s most intense soccer dad? Charlie Rodrigues, Gabriel Medina’s stepfather, was suspended from the competitors’ area for the Australian leg of the 2017 men’s tour following an incident involving league officials in Portugal last year.
Here’s a throwback. Victor Ribas was an intelligent, hardworking professional who reached a career-high ranking of No. 3 in 1999. But, in the Maldives in 2000, the pressure finally got to the Mr Ribas. Upset with an interference call (notice a theme?), Ribas paddled to shore, went to the judges’ tower, and threw a handful of coral rocks at the panel from close range. A photographer was injured and Ribas was subsequently fined for the outburst.
A man Derek Hynd described as “a modern-day Cassius Clay… a slick, black nightmare come to whup some ass.” It’s no secret that Sunny developed a reputation for being outspoken during his fruitful tenure on tour. Getting in multiple fistfights, and more famously throwing a muffin at the judging panel in ’95 (points for missile creativity). According to a close Stab source, Sunny was once seen punching a tower in France, which resulted in an AC vent falling on his head. A contest he’s also famous for disliking because he “hates the food and the waves suck.”
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