The ASP Explains The Case Of Owen vs. Adriano

The ASP Explains The Case Of Owen vs. Adriano

After a controversial judging decision saw Adriano De Souza defeat Owen Wright in the quarterfinals of the recent Billabong Rio Pro, message boards were alight with comments both pro and con. The ASP World noticed and have issued a statement…


Above: The heat that sparked the controversy.

Retrospection: ASP Judges on Adriano/Owen Quarterfinal from Rio

BARRA DA TIJUCA, Rio de Janeiro/Brasil (Sunday, May 22, 2011) – Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, is our current ASP World No. 1. The young Brazilian stormed past Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, Owen Wright (AUS), 21, Bede Durbidge (AUS), 28, and Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, en route to his second elite tour victory at the Billabong Rio Pro last Friday. The emotional win vaulted the De Souza into the lead in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title heading into the remainder of the season.

The final day was filled with a number of dramatic heats and finishes, perhaps none more so that the Quarterfinal match between De Souza and Wright. This Quarterfinal bout has become the central topic of subsequent discussion between media, fans and surfers, and the ASP International Judging Panel has been gracious enough to look back and provide their expert perspective on the heat:

First off, let’s review the current judging criteria from ASP International, specifically the part that discusses commitment and degree of difficulty:

Surfers must perform to the ASP Judging Key Concepts to maximize their scoring potential.

Judges analyze the following major concepts when scoring waves:
- Commitment and Degree of Difficulty
- Innovative and Progressive Maneuvers
- Combination of Major Maneuvers
- Variety of Maneuvers
- Speed, Power and Flow

It is important to note that the emphasis on certain concepts is contingent upon the location and the conditions on the day, as well as changes of conditions during the day.

Now, Adriano’s final wave was a lot bigger than what was shown online as the camera missed the bottom half of the wave – this makes any subsequent analysis of the heat nearly impossible when utilizing only the Heats on Demand version. When De Souza lands you can see the size of the whitewash behind him and the amount of distance that he covered during the floater, how critical the section was and how difficult it would have been to land would not have been entirely visible on the webcast, and is not representation in the Heats on Demand.

The part of the sandbar that De Souza executed the maneuver was waist-deep, hence the critical section. The waves on the final day were two-to-three-maneuver waves. The surfers could take the smaller ones that would run a bit further, but were a lot softer and easier waves to ride, or they could take the set waves which were a lot shorter but also a lot harder to ride. Owen’s rides in the Quarterfinal heat were on the smaller waves that offered more room but less punch. During the final day, many single-turn waves received scores that would not normally be that high, but as the waves only allowed for two-to-three turns, we had adjusted the scale. It’s important to note that there is nothing in the criteria that says surfers must complete multiple turns. We’re in the business of surfers going big and that’s what we’ve been seeing in the last 18 months.

The vision also fails to truly reflect the speed of the waves. The set waves flew down the bank while the smaller ones ran off a lot slower. The camera angle often failed to truly reflect the surfing being done at the time, as well as the depth of the wave, where the surfer took the wave in relation to the bank and how critical the sections are.

Our job as the judging panel is to score the surfers that are pushing the criteria to the limit. Both of Owen’s airs were good maneuvers (they are also the bread and butter for nearly every surfer on tour these), but executed on the easy sections of the waves. Where as Adriano’s floater was done on such a critical part of the wave. I would probably add that if Owen’s first turns on both scoring waves were bigger or more critical, then both waves would have been scored higher.

I pose the question, would you, as a fan of top-level surfing, prefer the surfers to do a good turn on a

Owen Wright reacts to his loss at the hands of Adriano De Souza in the quarterfinals of the Billabong Rio Pro.

Owen Wright reacts to his loss at the hands of Adriano De Souza in the quarterfinals of the Billabong Rio Pro.

small easy wave or a good turn on a wave that is going flat-out with a heaving, unforgiving closeout section?

It was absolutely a close heat, but we have close heats every day as we are dealing with the best surfers in the world.

Full disclosure: the ASP International Media Department is looking into improving the current Heats on Demand (HOD) product that the events currently provide. The current Heats on Demand product consistently mis-tags waves with incorrect scores, fails to show completed rides and to provide an accurate representation of what is actually occurring during the event. We appreciate the feedback from our fans and are looking into remedying the issue as soon as possible.

The next stop on the 2011 ASP World Title season will be the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay from July 14 – 24, 2011.