Buitendag falls foul of the rules

They could have run the men’s today. They could have run the women’s quarters. They could have done a lot more than what they did, because the Bells Bowl was what Kieren Perrow might call “highly contestable”.

Bianca, consoled by her mum after losing in round four. Photo: WSL
Bianca, consoled by her mum after losing in round four. Photo: WSL

Yes, it was small, but Mick Fanning did an air-reverse so that should give you an idea of how contestable it was. But they didn’t because they’re waiting it out for Super Swell Sunday. That’s the word on the street, anyways.

So it was four heats and one short round, held at Winki, which looked really goddamn fun. The main players got through – Steph and Tyler, along with Tatiana and Alessa Quizon. But the most interesting thing about today wasn’t who won – it was who lost and why they lost.

Bianca Buitendag could have won her heat. She should have won her heat, actually. Let’s set the scene:

Alessa has priority and is winning.

Bianca needs something like a 7.88.

There’s five seconds left on the clock.

The horn blows.

And in those last five seconds a set reaches the lineup, Bianca paddles and her hands leave the rails. It’s a score-able ride. Seeing this Alessa uses her priority and paddles for the wave. Rather than continuing down the line, Bianca straightens out and rides the wave into shore, admitting defeat.

Only Alessa didn’t have priority. Because as soon as that final horn blows, there’s no such thing as priority. If Bianca had continued surfing the wave and Alessa had gotten in her way, it would have been counted as an interference and Bianca would have won.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this same situation went down at Trestles last year in Round Two with Michel and Seabass. Only Michel knew the rules, and he knew that if Seabass got in his way, he’d take the heat. That’s what happened and in the end, it actually cost Seabass his requalification.


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