Like a lot of fans of pro surfing, I wrapped up last weekend glued to my computer watching finals day of the first event of the World Surf League championship season.

The event—the Quiksilver Pro for the men and the Boost Mobile Pro for the women—was held on Australia’s Gold Coast, this year at Duranbah because a February cyclone washed out all the sand at the famed right-hand pointbreak at Snapper Rocks.

After watching 17-year-old Florida phenom Caroline Marks win the women’s final over Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, I settled in to catch the men’s final between California’s Kolohe Andino and Brazil’s Italo Ferreira.

Despite the mediocre conditions, Andino led for much of the heat. Much like he’d done throughout the contest, he surfed a smart and calculated final, at least right up until the last two minutes when he let Ferreira go on a knee-high dribbler that didn’t look like much.

The Brazilian milked as much speed out of the wave as he could, launching a full-rotation air that has become his trademark move. Still, Ferreira needed a 6.93 to take the lead, and even the commentators didn’t think he’d achieved the mark. The judges, however, handed him a 7.07 and the event victory.

Ever since, social media has been ablaze with a large number of fans complaining that Andino was robbed of the victory. What’s worse is that this latest judging controversy isn’t the first involving heats where many believe a Brazilian surfer was over-scored.

A suggestion for the WSL: Be transparent about who the judges are and their country of origin. Better yet, show each judge’s individual score for each wave ridden in a heat.

Otherwise, professional surfing runs the real risk of its legitimacy being questioned, just as it’s starting to gain a foothold across the world. Fair judging ensures the person crowned champ at the end of an event and at the conclusion of a season is the rightful winner.


So, last weekend I wrote extensively about the end of the long flat spell that’s been plaguing the upper Texas coast for the past month, pining on about a promising surf forecast.

Well, as fate would have it, we pretty much got skunked all weekend, with flat to near-flat conditions for much of this week. While weather models and surf forecasting tools are much better than in the past, it’s still up to Mother Nature to decide when we’re going to be surfing.

I’ll refrain from offering a promising surf forecast in the future and instead insist that you check the surf cams at before you head to the beach. Seeing is believing.

Stephen Hadley is a longtime surfer who lives and works in Galveston. If you have an idea for this column, email him at

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