The first heat of round 3 featured Australian goofyfoots Owen Wright and Matt Wilkinson. Both surfers opened with high-scoring rides. Wilko struck first with an 8.17 and Owen answered with an 8.5 that he backed up with a 6.4.
Wilko would go on to catch two backup waves– one at the midway point of the heat and the second just as the clock was running out. Either one could have arguably given him the score. Both waves featured committed fin-wofts and were finished as strongly as Owen’s 6.4.
The scoring of the final wave had the event commentators baffled. There was unanimous agreement from all three in the broadcast booth that he easily would get the score, and Wilko let out a claim at the end of the heat. However, in the judges’ eyes, both rides fell short of the 6.73 he required.
“A little bit of controversy going on down here,” said Martin Potter after the heat “[Wilkinson] believes he got underscored on the last ride. I saw him grab the video camera and run off to the judges tower.” Of course, this isn’t pro football, so challenging the call retroactively is futile. But in the digital age the judges will at least be held to some account for their poor calls.
You may recall the “Floatergate” controversy from last season where Owen Wright found himself at the bitter end of the stick. Perhaps the judges gave him a bump this heat as a make-up call.
Decide for yourself who won. Watch the heat here.
With a dying swell and marginal forecast on the charts, the event could be back on tomorrow morning.