Is 2019 the Year Of The Interference? A few months ago we reported that Gabriel’s interference call in Portugal might not be the best thing that has happened to surfing this year, but the best thing that has ever happened to surfing full stop. 

Well, it seems Zeke Lau agrees. In a recent Instagram post the Hawaiian contends that in the Final of the Vans Word Cup Jack Robinson should have been scored an interference when the two were involved in a collision in the early stages of the heat. 

View this post on Instagram

“When a surfer is put in a position while paddling out that they cannot get out of the way and a collision happens due to this, it is up to a majority of the judges to call interference based on whether it is determined to be accidental or not”. My opinion is that we are “professional surfers”. The best of the best! Going off the rule, surfer in white COULD have gotten out of the way. From this video clip you can see surfer in white has enough time to make a conscious decision where to paddle. Just so happens that the line he chose is directly where I drew my line to come out of the barrel, which is the ONLY option I had. The surfer paddling out has options to avoid the surfer on the wave. He should be in the channel paddling back out. It should come down to who had priority over the situation. These 2 surfers are not equal in this specific case and the rules should benefit the surfer on the wave utilizing priority. This ride would have been the first major score of the heat, but was deemed incomplete because surfer in white chose to BAIL his surfboard causing me to fall off, hindering the scoring potential of my wave, breaking my board, and leaving white with priority. How is it okay for the interfering surfer to gain so much advantage from a collision and an interference not be called? The highlighted rule 168 section 3 ENABLES controversy and should be addressed. Thanks to everyone for all the supportive messages. Let me know what you guys think! Aloha 🤙🏽 @wsl

A post shared by Ezekiel Lau (@zekelau) on

“When a surfer is put in a position while paddling out that they cannot get out of the way and a collision happens due to this, it is up to a majority of the judges to call interference based on whether it is determined to be accidental or not,” wrote Lau. 

“My opinion is that we are “professional surfers”. The best of the best! Going off the rule, surfer in white COULD have gotten out of the way. From this video clip you can see surfer in white has enough time to make a conscious decision where to paddle. Just so happens that the line he chose is directly where I drew my line to come out of the barrel, which is the ONLY option I had.” 

Now first the surfer in white is Jack Robinson, and Zeke’s failure to call him by his name reeks of passive aggression. However, it is also a massive call. He is effectively saying Jack made a conscious decision to paddle towards a 10-foot Sunset Inside Bowl and place himself directly in front of the thick lip,  Lau and his 6’6” pintail travelling at mach ten. If Jack did purposely do that, it has to be one of the most committed competitive acts ever seen in the history of the sport. 

And to put your life on the line, at the start of the Final when you have been the standout performer just to stop a surfer exiting a barrel just seems well, fucking ludicrous. 

Lau continues along in a similar vein. “This ride would have been the first major score of the heat, but was deemed incomplete because surfer in white chose to BAIL his surfboard causing me to fall off, hindering the scoring potential of my wave, breaking my board, and leaving white with priority. How is it okay for the interfering surfer to gain so much advantage from a collision and an interference not be called? The highlighted rule 168 section 3 ENABLES controversy and should be addressed.” 

This time he ups the ante with the use of the caps on the word bail. Now Lau does have a point with regarding the rule. If the event was an accident, and most sane people would agree that was the case (although Billy Kemper chimed in with “@billykemper: @jackrobinson_official that paddle sprint towards the exit of the barrel looked pretty damn straight forward and on purpose) then it seems unfair that the surfer riding the wave is penalised. In a sliding doors moment Zeke could have gone on to win, and it may have been him and not Jack that made the CT. 

However, surely we all know that we are dealing with an unpredictable ocean. And nothing is more unpredictable than 10-foot Sunset. Shit happens that is no one's fault and to penalise one surfer or the other sets a dangerous precedent.

Zeke might also want to remember Medina’s case from Portugal, where the footage from the webcast he used actually didn’t capture the full context of the situation. Either way it implies a gross lack of respect from Lau to claim that Robinson would perform this act on purpose. To vocalise his grievances a  few days later, on social media, only adds to the general feeling of sour grapes surrounding the whole episode. 

At this stage the WSL hasn’t formally addressed the issue, probably because an Instagram post, as of now anyway, is no way of lodging an official complaint. The rule may need reviewing and you can appreciate Zeke's disappointment in his failure to secure requalification, but the way he has handled the situation seems ill-advised, dangerous and mean spirited. We’d be interested to hear your take on it.