Gabriel Medina: he is not happy with WSL's judging criteria | Photo: WSL

Gabriel Medina issued a public statement criticizing the World Surf League's (WSL) competitive judging criteria.

The Brazilian three-time world surfing champion published a post on his social media accounts expressing concerns about how his waves have been scored in Championship Tour events.

The unprecedented open letter to WSL was released after his elimination in the quarterfinals of the Surf Ranch Pro.

"Surfing has been my life, and my love for this sport is unconditional. I have put all my heart into it and want to leave a beautiful legacy one day when I look back at it."

"However, the surfing community, especially in Brazil, has been mesmerized by the poor clarity and inconsistency of judging for many years now, but lately, it has been even more shocking."

"It is quite clear that judging is now rewarding very simple surfing and seamless transitions and have taken critical turns in critical sections out of the criteria."

"This is very frustrating and is stagnating the sport."

"Fans and sponsors will not accept this to continue and will, in the near future, be drawn away since all they want is equal and fair judging of the sport."

"Also, it is important to note that many coaches and managers have had the opportunity to speak to WSL after heats/events to ask about progression and variety in the criteria and the lack of reward for this space."

"The response given is always quite defensive by giving poor examples to illustrate their point."

"WSL urgently needs to clarify judging and apply equal and fair judging to save the progression of the sport."

A Subjective Criteria

Gabriel Medina lost his quarterfinal matchup against Ethan Ewing with an equal result - both surfers finished the heat with 16.67 points.

The professional surfing circuit has not yet commented on the Brazilian's words.

Filipe Toledo, Yago Dora, Julian Wilson, Jeremy Flores, Ramzi Boukhiam, Jack Freestone, Alejo Muniz, Caio Ibelli, Adriano de Souza, and Michel Bourez were some of the athletes who backed Medina's statement.

The WSL rule book defines five subjective elements that are at the heart of judging:

  • Commitment and degree of difficulty;
  • Innovative and progressive maneuvers;
  • Combination of major maneuvers;
  • Variety of maneuvers;
  • Speed, power, and flow;

Unlike sports like football, basketball, or tennis, surfing requires subjective measurement using a set of assessment criteria.

Surf heats involve a panel of five judges.

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