PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Tuesday, December 15, 2009) – Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, has claimed the 2009 Billabong Pipe Masters, defeating fellow Finalist Kelly Slater (USA), 37, in clean three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves at the Banzai Pipeline.
The final event of the 2009 ASP World Tour season, the Billabong Pipe Masters culminated the Vans Triple Crown (an ASP Specialty Series), and provided non-stop, high-caliber action from the outset.
Burrow wasted little time in putting Slater on the ropes in the 35-minute Final, racking up a 7.00 out of a possible 10 on his opening ride for an electric air reverse followed by some solid forehand maneuvers. With deteriorating conditions, Burrow stayed busy before collecting a 5.83 for an incredible full-rotation alley-oop, putting the pressure on Slater as time ran out.
“There were perfect backdoor waves this whole event and then for the Final it went onshore,” Burrow said. “It was strictly turns. It was all about turns and hopefully doing a few airs and I dropped down to my shortboard and my plan was to just to let loose. It was tough because I knew Kelly (Slater) could do anything. Even when there was 20 seconds to go and I had priority, I was still scared. I just had nothing to lose and tried to let loose.”
Today’s victory mark’s Burrow’s first ASP World Tour win since 2007 and his first-ever win at the infamous Banzai Pipeline.
“This win feels about as good as you could imagine,” Burrow said. “For me, winning this contest is the next best thing to winning a World Title. This is the one and only event that everyone would probably pick to win and I can’t believe I’m standing here right now. It’s an amazing feeling. There are so many tough guys that you go up against in this event that I thought it was out of my reach. This is the best victory of my career.”
Burrow, who has long been considered a legitimate ASP World Title contender, is thrilled with his finish to the 2009 season looks forward to 2010 with renewed vigor and hunger to hunt down the ever-elusive ASP crown.
“This win is an excellent springboard into next season,” Burrow said. “There is nothing but confidence to take from this and I’m excited for the Gold Coast. It comes around really fast. It feels like we’re on holiday now, but the Gold Coast sneaks up on us pretty quick and I’m excited for it. Hopefully I can win some more events, but this is the number one that I’ve ever dreamed of winning.”
Slater looked near unbeatable throughout the Billabong Pipe Masters, deftly maneuvering his 5’11” craft through one incredible tube after another before running into Burrow in the Finals. While his opponent stayed busy throughout the bout, Slater waited patiently for scoring opportunities that never manifested.
“Unfortunately the Final had the absolute worst conditions of the contest, but there are still fun waves out there,” Slater said. “You could go out for a free surf and have a good time. It’s difficult to transition when you’re already expecting one thing. I had already had a couple of heats with barrels and then all of a sudden it’s completely different conditions. Still, there’s a shallow reef there, so you’re expecting one to throw out and barrel, but it just didn’t happen.”
The former nine-time ASP World Champion was in the hunt for an unprecedented seventh Pipe Masters title, but the conditions didn’t cooperate for the Floridian, despite finding the only barrel of the Final, scoring a 3.93 out of a possible 10.
“I thought the wave would be more than a three,” Slater said. “I still needed two waves, basically. There really weren’t any nine-point rides out there and had that been only a six I would have needed a seven. I thought the judges put me in a weird situation there, and in the end, nothing else came. Well, that’s not entirely true. I caught that last wave and did an off-the-top and Taj (Burrow) took off on it and just kicked off the side. He almost stood up too late and could have got an interference. Had he done that he would have only been judged on one wave. Had I landed that air reverse I could have gotten a score, but it was a long shot.”
In terms of returning in 2010 for an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title, Slater is characteristically guarded.
“I don’t know if I’m going to do the tour full-time next year,” Slater said. “I’m sort of feeling it out. I’ve just competed for so many years, doing the same thing and going to the same places, it’s a little monotonous. When you find some meaning in it and it’s bigger than just going and surfing, then it becomes more exciting, but, unfortunately, this year I had a pretty lackluster year in a lot of ways, both personally and competitively and it probably showed in my surfing.”
Dean Morrison (AUS), 28, secured his best result of the season today, finishing Equal 3rd at the Billabong Pipe Masters to cement himself at No. 16th on the year-end ratings. Besting Damien Hobgood (USA), 30, in a tight Quarterfinal before falling to Slater in the Semifinals, Morrison put himself into excellent position heading into the 2010 ASP World Tour season.
“There’s a lot of hassling going on out there, but that’s the way it goes when it’s such a tight peak,” Morrison said. “I spend a lot of time out here at Pipeline though, so it’s nice to have made it through to the Semifinals.”
Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, continued his impressive run through the back half of the 2009 ASP World Tour season, finishing Equal 3rd today at the Billabong Pipe Masters and cracking the Top 10 in the year-end ASP ratings. Although quickly dispatching of compatriot C.J. Hobgood (USA), 30, in the Quarterfinals, Reynolds was unable to negotiate the deteriorating conditions in his Semifinal bout against event winner Burrow.
“I was kind of stuck between trying to find air sections and still trying to find one of those rare tubes and ended up not doing either,” Reynolds said. “I just got stuck in the middle. I’m stoked though. It was a good way to end the year and it’s been a good event.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, was in the running for the 2009 ASP World Title before bowing out of the Billabong Pipe Masters in Round 3 of competition. Although Gold Coast stable mate Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, claimed the 2009 ASP World Title, Parkinson’s efforts throughout the Vans Triple Crown (an ASP Specialty Series) saw the talented natural-footer awarded with his second consecutive Vans Triple Crown Title as well as a bonus $50,000 from the Vans Triple Threat prize pool.
“This is my consolation prize to this year’s ASP World Title,” Parkinson said. “To me, the Triple Crown is the next best thing to the World Title. Last year I wanted to win the Vans Triple Crown and this year I wanted to win the ASP World Title, but I won the Triple Crown and I’m over the moon with what happened this year. I should be proud of everything I’ve done and I can’t wait for next year and I’ll be back strong for another Triple Crown and all that and I just want to thank Vans for stepping it up to a new level for putting out huge incentives for us.”
Highlights from the Billabong Pipe Masters can be found on www.billabongpro.com and www.triplecrownofsurfing.com
While the 2009 season has come to a close, the 2010 ASP World Tour is just around the corner, and will set new benchmarks in performance as it continues to showcase the world’s best surfers in the world’s best waves.
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspworldtour.com
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.83
2 – Kelly Slater (USA) 7.10
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.17 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 7.00
SF 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.50 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 11.67
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.00 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.17
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.24 def. Flynn Novak (HAW) 13.87
QF 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.90 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.40
QF 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.10 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.67
VANS TRIPLE CROWN TRIPLE THREAT AWARDS:
2009 ASP World Champion: Mick Fanning (AUS) – awarded bonus $50,000
2009 Vans Triple Crown Champion: Joel Parkinson (AUS) – awarded bonus $50,000
2009 Billabong Pipe Masters Champion: Taj Burrow (AUS) – awarded bonus $50,000
VANS TRIPLE CROWN FINAL TOP 3 (Men’s):
1 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6694 points
2 – C.J. Hobgood (USA) 6213 points
3 – Torrey Meister (HAW) 5775 points