Bells Beach during the 2012 Rip Curl Pro. Second round, heat five. Fred Patacchia vs. Michel Bourez.
A clean head-high line unloads on the bank. The Spartan strokes into it in the pocket, while Freddy P. paddles in just a few yards inside, all eyes on where he's going, without even a glance toward the pocket.
Freddy P. gets to his feet and takes a quick look back, only to see Bourez charging towards him. Freddy quickly hits eject and kicks over the back. Michel, undeterred, goes on to hack the wave to pieces.
Freddy got hit with an interference call, meaning his second highest score in the heat would be halved.
A hobbled Freddy P. tore the bag out of everything he could get, while the rattled Spartan dropped the oversized ball and couldn't put enough of a score together to take the win. Even with the interference, Fred survived to surf another day.
Why the interference?
If you look carefully at the moment of the incident, you can see an ever so subtle hesitation on the part of Michel Bourez. But, even a millisecond of hesitation can make or break a score. The line Michel might have drawn had Freddy not paddled in may have very well been the same, but… allowing Freddy's pop up sans interference would open the door for others to do the same.
You might not agree with the call (especially after seeing Bourez proceed to demolish the wave), but that's how priority positioning works. You wait your turn and take your wave. You never interfere with the surfer with priority's scoring potential. And, whether you have priority or not, you always, always, always keep an eye on where the other guy is.
Mistakes happen, but cooler heads always prevail.