Poll: Is This A Make?
Italo’s acrobatic recovery raises questions about the WSL’s ambiguous “landing” criteria.
Back in 2015, which, if memory serves, was the beginning of the Western World’s downward spiral, Kelly Slater surfed the most highly publicized wave we’ve ever seen at Lower Trestles.
The wave featured a full-rotation backside air reverse that was undeniably botched, in the sense that Kelly’s feet became disconnected from his board, forcing him into a prone position before popping back up to his feet and finishing the ride. This wave, which earned Kelly his now-infamous 4.17 at the Hurley Lowers Pro, set off a widespread debate amongst international surf fans.
Please watch below.
Much to the older, less informed viewers’ chagrin, Kelly’s clumsy spin was discounted by the WSL judges on account of the fact that he fell.
“Now if you do the most amazing aerial the world’s ever seen — which I’m not saying this one is — and you land on your belly, it’s an incomplete maneuver,” ex-WSL Head Judge, Richie Porta, said on the matter. “Everyone’s got to realize it was an incomplete maneuver. It’s worth nothing. And the surfers all know that. There’s no dissension amongst the surfers about that score — I guarantee it.”
And Kelly agreed. He had no problem with the score and found the internet outrage slightly confusing.
Part of me has to think that this was only a big deal because it was Slater. If the same situation had applied to Gabby, Filipe, or John, these same older surf fans, some of them highly distinguished in the field, would have written off the maneuver as a fluke or a flail. But because it’s Kelly, their lifetime hero, and living proof that aging does not limit performance, these folks were up in arms.
But other instances may not be as black-and-white as the one referenced above. There are some moments in surfing where it’s truly debatable whether a surfer made a barrel, completed their turn, or stomped an air. Because the ocean is such a dynamic playing field, it’s hard to make blanket rules that can cover every possible scenario.
How far must a surfer ride out of a barrel before it’s considered complete? Like, if they’re fully visible but immediately guillotined by the oncoming section, does that count?
How much of the surfer’s board must extend out of whitewater after landing an air for it to be deemed a make? Three-quarters? Just the tip?
And if a surfer performs a Clayback — the half-air, half-layback maneuver made famous by Mr. Marzo — wherein their back lag folds outward, leaving them half-sitting on their board before regaining an upright position with the help of their hand, does that count?
Let’s watch a recent example and decide.
A very fine line to tread, no?
Part of me thinks that because Italo both fell on his thigh and needed the help of his back arm to regain composure, this should be deemed an “incomplete maneuver”, but at the same time it all happened in such a fast and controlled manner that these affectations seemed like planned components of the turn. All of which is to say I’m passionately ambivalent on the matter.
With any luck, the current World #1 will pull a similar maneuver at the upcoming Oi Rio Pro, forcing the WSL judges to take an official stance on this existential quandary.
But until then we’ll leave it up to you:
Long Read: Pete Beachy Is No Bore
The life and times of an off-the-grid Alaskan surf pioneer who claims to cure cancer.
Sun Room: The Overnight Success Of A Young Surf Band
What's it like touring the world and living off of McDonald's?
How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 6
An instructional manual for the modern professional surfer
Globe Pulls Out Of The Apparel Game
…and, Taj Burrow and Dion Agius are now looking for new main sponsors.
Owen Wright Announces Retirement From Competitive And Heavy-Water Surfing
But will surf final CT event at Bells.
Fancy An Ale, Some Good Music, And A Bunch Of Tubes?
Ballet's minimalist full-length will satiate your needs.
Take Stab’s 2023 Audience Survey, Win A 3-Board Quiver
Stab towels and Premium subscriptions also up or grabs.
Jessi Miley Dyer On The New Challenger Series Schedule And More
Did you know that you could miss the mid-year cut and still theoretically win the…
Don’t Miss The Last Wave Of The First 2023 SEOTY Entry
Jacob Willcox's ‘Into Dust’ just set the bar.
Warren Smith on New Welcome Rivers Range and Buying Jaguars on Facebook Marketplace
Now available in the Antipodes...
Wavegarden Spills How The Sausage Is Made
BTS of their global air wave rollout ft. Yago Dora, Dion Agius, Reef Heazlewood and…
Minds, Machines, And The Magic Of Hands
How modern shapers split their time between designing files and hand-finishing boards.
Are Hectic Lefts The Final Finless Frontier?
William Aliotti is on the right-foot-forward fringes.
Watch: Luke + Eddie
A mostly unknown, on-duty lifeguard won the most prestigious big-wave event in history. How Luke…
Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.
Already a member? Sign In
Want to join? Sign Up