What A Difference A Wave Makes
Breaking Down The Last Minute of the Boost Mobile Pro
The flag-waiving chants of “USA! USA! USA!” were unmistakable as Taj Burrow entered the water for the final of the Boost Mobile Pro - a final he was keen on playing spoiler to Kelly Slater’s date with destiny. And while the beach commentator tried to squelch the fervor by reminding the crowd that Taj was in fact born in San Diego and holds both American and Australian passports, the Slater Express was full throttle and the entire crowd was on board. It would be a heat between two very cool cats – to see if one would have nine lives.
If you’ve been living in a cave - a cave without WiFi no less - here’s a quick recap of the Slater/Burrow Trestle wrestle: Riding his magic Firewire, a board he picked up at the Billabong Pro South Africa, Taj had Kelly in a combo situation for the majority of the 40-minute bout. In the dying seconds Kelly needed a 9-point score and Taj sat with priority. A set came. Taj passed on the first, bumpy wave. Kelly took it – and won his fifth world tour event of the season.
“To go against Taj, this is probably the best,” Kelly told the media immediately following the final. “Taj had priority and he let that wave go because it was the first wave and he probably thought it was going to be bumpy, but it let me do a lot on it. It was a really good wave, but it was the first wave of the set.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Taj, who despite this disappointment moved up the rankings to the Number Two slot on the ASP World Tour. “I was confident I was going to win,” he would say after the final. “I had priority at the right times and was picking the best waves so I don’t know how I lost, really.”
As befuddling it must have been at the time, how Taj lost was this: he gave Kelly the hint of an open track at Trestles and he got a train smash. For 18 years now (starting in 1990 at the Body Glove Surf-Bout at Lowers) Kelly’s proven time and again, that if you leave the door open even a crack he’s going to kick it in. Taj could have had him. Taj did have him. But Kelly got the wave.
With five events left and five under Slater’s belt, Taj is perhaps the obstacle capable of derailing the runaway train Kelly has become this season.
Time is short but there is still a chance for a real title race. France and Spain are coming up quick; both are events Taj could win handily.
And then there’s Brazil where Taj has brought home the gold 3 times. It’s a long shot and an uphill pull, but this guy has come second three year’s in a row, and he has to want it as bad as Kelly. With a little more fuel added to his furnace, this lost wave at Lowers might be the loco-motive that could make an otherwise forgone conclusion a run for the money.