11 million peeps tuned into the Billabong Pro webcast of the Pipe Masters to watch the world title race go down to the wire in epic surfing conditions. Not without controversy either. But once the dust settled we have Kelly Slater taking the Pipe title and Mick Fanning the World Title. It's Micks 3rd world title, and Slaters 56th tour victory. Will he be back for 2014? 'Course he will!
Controversy lovers were not disappointed either. There were quite a few questions asked about the judging calls, pretty much based upon which surfer you were supporting. But Mick's final wave score against Yadin in his quarter final heat is the one getting the most attention. Basically Mic had to win the heat to win the world title....
So what we have is Fanning behind Yadin Nicol with just a few minutes left in the heat. But a happy ending was the order of the day, and a set marched in from the horizon. Fanning whipped around and pulled into the wave that would see him chaired up the beach to the podium.
But the beach was buzzing with the score he was awarded for the wave...just enough to see him take the heat.
“He needed a nine, and I didn’t even think that last wave was a 9 – and he got a 9.5,” said Kelly Slater, who admitted to watching the heat on a computer. “It’s different when you’re at the beach, though,” he continued. ”There’s definitely something poetic about it for Mick. To have the heat come down to the last couple of minutes in both of those heats.”
Richard Porta, the ASP’s Head Judge, gave an explanation on why Mick’s World Title wave was better than Yadin’s – and it doesn't ring true for many.
“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.
This is what the website Inertia had to say:
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."
But everyone can moan all they want...cos Micks holding the trophy, and good for him. He's a great surfer with an excellent work ethic, and certainly deserves another title.
Bring on 2014!!