ASP Head Judge’s Take on Fanning’s Title Winning Wave and the Right Way to Surf Pipe

The waves under scrutiny: Yadin Nichol’s (L) under the lip drop and run approach, or Mick Fanning’s (R) bottom turn to barrel hunt approach?

Richard Porta, the ASP’s Head Judge, gave an explanation on why Mick’s World Title wave was better than Yadin’s – and it is rubbish.

“For us, that bottom turn is probably that tiny bit of difference between the two rides. Yadin drops and runs and Mick has to bottom turn up and into it; both amazing rides,” said Porta in an interview on the webcast.
Here is my question: Why is dropping and running in worse than dropping, fading, bottom turning and getting a barrel? Are we asking the surfers at eight-foot Pipe to drop straight and bottom turn instead of grabbing rail and pig-dogging? Does Porta know that if Yadin would’ve dropped straight on his 9.33, by the time he would’ve wanted to bottom turn, he would have taken a lip in the face and probably broken his board and his ribs?

It is clear that you don’t drop straight, fade and do a long bottom turn, like Mick did, when you surf Pipe. In most of the best rides at Pipe when it’s breaking the size it was during that final heat, the surfer adjusts his direction and takes the barrel. Check last year’s Ricardo Santos’ wave of the winter at Pipe. Or check Kalani Chapman’s wave of the 2010 winter, or check all of last year’s finalists.

As an alternate way of judging, check which of yesterday’s rides look more like all the waves of the winter? Mick’s or Yadin’s? It is clearly Yadin’s.

Dropping and running doesn’t look wrong to me, as Porta alludes. It sounds better than dropping and fading, because if you drop and fade, you are not surfing a real Pipe wave (on that size). Mick’s barrel was amazing and it was long, but it was small and he had to fight a lot to find it. That’s not real Pipe surfing, that’s trying hard to get a barrel in the shoulder, and it is definitely not a 9.7.

Mick’s wave was easier to make, he almost didn’t touch the foamball, and he came out with the spit. Yadin’s was a tougher drop, a bigger barrel, and he came out after the spit.
Still, I understand what happened. We need to put it in context: It could’ve gone either way. A last minute long barrel in the hunt for the title can always be a game changer. The problem is that surfing and judging is still too amateur to handle those situations. And that’s the greater issue.

And by the way, don’t you think that John John’s Backdoor’s at the final ride was a 7.8?

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