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Meet the WSL Judges

Meet the 2018 World Surf League Championship Tour Judges

To kick off the 2018 WSL Championship Tour (CT), we asked the judges' panel some questions to get to know them, from how long they've been judging contests, to their earliest influences. Without further ado, meet the 12 people whose jobs are critical to the WSL's mission, but who typically stay behind the scenes.

Pritamo Ahrendt, Head Judge

World Surf League Judge - Pritamo Ahrendt. Pritamo Ahrendt WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 40
Nationality: Australian
Number of years as a judge: 19 years (1999 - 2017)
Number of events judged: 180+ men's Championship Tour; around 200 Qualifying Series.
Number of different locations judged: Approximately 30.
Favorite surf location: Cloudbreak, Fiji
Passions outside surfing: Family and gardening.
Favorite icon growing up: Tom Carroll, because he was a mad charger and World Champ.
Words of surf wisdom: Losing will hurt way more if you surf to win a heat rather than doing the best surfing you can.
What you stand for: Integrity, fairness and good times.

Iain "Ratso" Buchanan, Head Judge - Priority, Head Judge - Europe

World Surf League Judge - Iain Buchanan. Iain Buchanan WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 56
Nationality: New Zealand
Home: New Zealand
Number of years as a judge: 8 years (2000 - present)
Number of events judged: 45-50 CT events; around 250 QS events
Number of different locations judged: 22 countries
Favorite surf location: On Tour: J-Bay, Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii. At home: Piha, Raglan, Kaikoura, Whangamata
Passions outside surfing: Seeing live bands.
Favorite icon growing up: Terry Fitzgerald from Hot Buttered. He sponsored me and taught me how to shape boards. He gave me a career and a job. He's a legend!
Words of surf wisdom: Follow your dreams and passion. If you really want it, you can make it happen.
What you stand for: Enjoy life to the fullest. You've only got one shot at it.
Interesting fact about you: I was the ASP/WSL World Grand Masters Champion, won in Rio de Janeiro in 2011.

Ettiene Buys, Head Judge - Africa, Senior Judge - International

World Surf League Judge - Ettiene Buys. Ettiene Buys WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 41
Nationality: South African
Home: Melkbosstrand/Cape Town
Number of years as a judge: 14 years (2005 - present)
Number of CT events judged: Around 112 CT, Around 200 QS events
Number of different countries judged in: About 20
Favorite surf location: Melkbosstrand, J-Bay, Lowers
Passions outside surfing: DJing , books , traveling, art, friends
Favorite icon growing up: Mom and dad, because of everything they sacrificed to give us a positive life is truly inspiring.
Words of surf wisdom: Work hard for your passion, and never give up.
What you stand for: Humility, integrity, respect. These are things I strive for every day.

Luiz Dantas, Judge

World Surf League Judge - Luiz Dantas. Luiz Dantas WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 44
Nationality: Brazilian
Home: Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Number of years as a WSL judge: 16
Number of events judged: Around 40 CT events; around 50 QS events
Number of different locations judged: 19 countries or more
Favorite surf location: Fiji and Hawaii
Passions outside surfing: Soccer, family, working on my garden, TV series and books.
Words of surf wisdom: Never give up of your dreams.
What you stand for: Power-surfing
Interesting fact about you: I don't know, you tell me.

Ben Dunn, Judge

Age: 32
Nationality: Australian
Home: Old Bar, NSW Number of years as a judge: 5 (2013-present)
Number of events judged: Bells 2017 was my first CT event. 30+ Qualifying Series events
Number of different locations judged: 10+
Favorite surf location: Angourie, NSW, Australia
Passions outside surfing: Kelly Slater and Tiger Woods. They're the best of all time.
Words of surf wisdom: Create a good support system for competing and traveling.
What you stand for: Treat people how you want to be treated.
Interesting fact about you: I use to hate traveling while I was competing, but I love it now.

Mikel Zalakain Fullaondo, Judge - International, Head Judge - Europe

World Surf League Judge - Mikel Zalakain. Mikel Zalakain Fullaondo WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 40
Nationality: Basque
Home: Urduliz (Bizkaia), Basque Country, Spain
Number of Years as a Judge: 15 (2003-present). I did my judging seminar in 2003 with the Basque Surfing Federation (EHSF), my first professional WSL event was in 2006 (the Tapia PJ), and my first CT that I judged was Mundaka, Spain, in 2008.
Number of events judged: 70 CT events; 140 QS events
Number of different locations judged: 25 countries
Favorite surf location: Azkorri Beach (my local beach)
Passions outside surfing: Running, boxing, Basque pelota, sports in general.
Icon growing up and why: My grandmother. I grew up with her, and she taught me to be an honest and hardworking person. She always told me to not give up to get my dreams.
Words of surf wisdom: Believe in yourself, work hard every day, surround yourself with good people and don't let anyone tell you that you will not achieve your dreams.
What you stand for: I stand for being an example of a fair, honest person, who wants to be better every day.
Interesting fact about you: I'm a fighter, and a persistent person who loves his job and good friends.

Ben Lowe, Judge

World Surf League Judge - Ben Lowe. Ben Lowe WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 38
Nationality: Australian
Home: North Stradbroke Island, QLD
Number of years as a judge: 13 years (2006 - present)
Number of events judged: Approximately 80 CT events. 100 QS and Pro Junior events
Number of different locations judged: 20 countries
Favorite surf location: Cloudbreak and home
Passions outside surfing: Traveling, fishing, National Rugby League
Favorite icon growing up and why: There were a number great surfers at home who I looked up to growing up, including my dad and two older brothers.
What you stand for: Fairness, not just in competition but in everyday lineups, everywhere.
Interesting fact about you: I have Australian and British passports, as my mum is from Scotland.

Luiz "Luli" Fernando Steffen Pereira, Associate Head Judge

World Surf League Judge - Luli Pereira. Luiz (Luli) Fernando Steffen Pereira WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 41
Nationality: Brazilian
Home: Balneario Camboriu, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Number of years as a judge: 14 (2005 - present)
Number of events judged: Around 115 CT events; 105 QS events
Number of different locations judged: 15 countries
Favorite surf location: Balneario Camboriu, Praia Brava
Passions outside surfing: Family, my dogs, soccer
Favorite icon growing up: Tom Curren, because of his perfect surfing style.
Words of surf wisdom: Try hard, but don't forget that it has to be fun.
What you stand for: Be honest and always try to learn from your mistakes.
Interesting fact about you: I graduated from law school. I was also the first judge to surf the Amazon tidal wave Pororoca, and the first to surf at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch.

Luke Reading, Head Judge - Australia, Scoring Judge - International

World Surf League Judge - Luke Reading Luke Reading WSL / Kelly Cestari

Age: 31
Nationality: Australian
Home: Wallabi Point NSW Australia
Number of years as a judge: 8
Number of events judged: 18 CT events, 48 QS events
Number of different countries judged: 16
Favorite surf location: Teahupo'o, Tahiti
Passions outside surfing: Fishing, golf and camping
Favorite icon growing up: Andy Irons, because of his ability to surf big waves like they were small.
What you stand for: Keeping our beaches clean.
Interesting fact about you: I have a small clothing company with some friends called Five Mates.

Yannick Sarran, Head Judge - Europe

Age: 38
Nationality: French
Home: Anglet, France
Number of years as a judge: 15 (2003 - present)
Number of events judged: Approximately 100 CT events; 200 QS events
Number of different locations judged: 18
Favorite surf location: Maldives and Australia
Passions outside surfing: Snowboarding, soccer
Favorite icon growing up: Withing the surf world, Tom Curren. As a kid, I watched him surf. I liked his style, his World Titles, and his movies. Outside of surfing, Zinedine Zidane, who won the football World Cup for France; he's one of the best to watch.
Words of surf wisdom: Always keep going to school.
What you stand for: I have been supporting an organization funds cancer research for eight years.

Bill Seitz, Head Judge - North America

Age: 43
Nationality: American
Home: Newport Beach, CA
Number of years as a WSL judge: 17
Number of events judged: 30+ CT events; 200+ QS events
Number of different locations judged: 10 countries
Favorite surf location: Fiji or Indo
Passions outside surfing: Family
Favorite icon growing up and why: Dane Reynolds
Words of surf wisdom: Work hard and have fun.
What you stand for: Integrity
Interesting fact about you: I am a part-owner of a real estate business.

Nuno Filipe Valério Trigo, Judge - International, Regional Head Judge

Age: 43
Nationality: Portuguese
Home: Carcavelos
Number of years as a judge: 13 (2005 - present)
Number of events judged: 14 + CT events; 156+ QS events
Number of different locations judged: 11
Favorite surf location: Coxos, Ericeira, Portugal
Passions outside surfing: Sport in general.
Icon growing up and why: My father, for all he is and for all he taught me. Surfing-wise, Kelly Slater and his peers, for being the main drive in the combination of progressive surfing and barrels in heavy conditions.
Words of surf wisdom: Be humble, train hard and respect the sporting spirit. Keep this formula and one day you can reach the top level.
What you stand for: Seriousness, integrity, happiness, respect for the next and hard work.
Interesting fact about you: I'm a father of one.

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