Finals day the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach brought with it impeccable conditions, incredible drama, and an interference call, followed by a reversal. In the final seconds of Filipe Toledo and Ezekiel Lau's Round Four heat, Lau was leading, and sitting in priority, followed by Toledo in second place, and Adriano de Souza in third.
In the closing seconds of the heat Toledo took off on a last gasp attempt. Zeke, holding priority, decided to drop in on him, which the rules allow him to do with priority. But, because the judges thought the horn blew after Toledo got to his feet, and before Zeke got to his, they called an interference on Lau.
According to the WSL Rulebook, "Once a heat has ended all priority ceases. If a surfer is riding on a wave as the heat ends they can't be interfered with by any surfer (even if that Surfer had higher priority before the heat ended). If an interference occurs the violating Surfer will receive a priority situation interference."
The judges, who had a glitch with their audio syncing, didn't hear the horn sound after Zeke stood up. Filipe became the winner.
Fans were in an uproar. Filipe was ecstatic. But perhaps no one had more at stake than the Hawaiian rookie, who submitted a formal protest to the judges -- albeit with poise and maturity. And sure enough, after some investigation, the judges discovered that Zeke hadn't interfered after all. In a rare instance, they reversed their decision: Zeke was named the winner and advanced to the Quarters. Filipe surfed again in Round Five, and won.
Head Judge Rich Porta joined the broadcast team to explain the incident.