Ten seconds to go, in the whole event. And this event has been going awhile. I think it started 35 years ago. And the 2007 version felt like it started, like, maybe 8 years ago. There's been lay days and days the down the coast, and half days and finally today, fittingly, the finals day. Anyway, there's ten seconds to go in the final of the Rip Curl Pro. Andy Irons is in the lead. And he's in control. I mean all day he's been doing super muscley, controlled, power surfing. So fast, so loose, yet banking all his scores. His first wave of the day in round 4 on a brand new, never-been-ridden Simon Anderson roundtail set the scene for his day. A high-speed drive followed by a massive air that should have, really, been a floater.
“I just had that feeling where I went 'Yes, I just nailed it!' in the last few seconds and it felt unbelievable."- Taj Burrow Rip Curl Pro Bells Champion
Anyway as I said, he was in control, with ten seconds to go with Taj Burrow looking for a pretty big score.
And the surf was pretty good too, four to five feet Bells Bowl, a couple of feet above what most people had expected. Good enough for there to be no excuses. Bells is good like that, pretty excuse free. Kelly Slater admitted that, when in the only upset of the whole event, and needing a 7 to beat Tom Whitaker in the quarterfinal, he fell short on his wave on the hooter, and like conceding to a hole to his golfing buddy Tom, applauded his opponent in the final. Mind you he'd fallen off, I think, at a rough estimate, about 800 waves before that, and was still in the hunt when that wave came through. "I heard it was a like ten seconds to go," said Kelly after the heat. "I saw a set coming, I was like, where do I go, out or in, I was watching Tom, just eyes popping."
It wasn't enough, and like I said there was ten seconds to go, now, in the whole goddamn event. Taj was looking for a score. He'd been in the good side of the draw, just him and Kelly of those freaky five dudes (who Andy told me today calls "the usual suspects") and his mate Tommy had binned him anyway. On the other side Parko, Andy and Mick were trying to squeeze themselves into the other final position. Mick had sorted Joel, in the quarters. I like the both of them and didn't know who to back. Kelly was similar, kinda. "I don't really care who wins, it doesn't really matter to me, but I hope Mick wins cause he's never beaten Joel." Then Andy beat Mick in the semi. There's a midget bee's dick between all those surfers's right now. They are so far ahead in surfing and timing and comp heads from the rest that it's ridiculous. This time though Andy squeezed through, actually cancel that, roared through, and was in the final, like I said, with ten seconds to go.
And then the biggest set of the day came through, and Taj was right there, right now, ready to go. Four searing, smooth carves and hacks later, plus a couple of shorey wafts just 'cause he could, and literally 30 seconds later Taj was smeared in some of the local Aboriginal traditional landholder's paint, ringing that Bell, and, just quietly, equal number one in the world, along with Mick Fanning.
I'd tell you more about what happened next, but it's happening right now. I just saw Andy, Bruce and Freddy P, burning rubber and beers mainlining for the Crown Casino in Melbourne. I'm pretty sure Mick and Taj and Tommy Whits won't be far behind them, sucking in their carbon monoxide, eyeing of a quite night. I wanted to go. But they are so out of my league. And everyone else's for that matter. And that end of the day, and this ordinary bog, that is why we are so bloody interested in them.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ASSOCIATION OF SURFING PROFESSIONALS (ASP) INTERNATIONAL
Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach presented by Snickers
Stop No 2. of 10 on the 2007 Foster's ASP World Tour
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia
April 3 – 13, 2007
BURROW BEATS IRONS AND RINGS THE BELL AT THE 35TH ANNUAL RIP CURL PRO
BELLS BEACH, Australia (Thursday, Apr. 12, 2007) – Taj Burrow (AUS) is elated that his name will be etched alongside the who's who of professional surfing after eliminating Andy Irons (HAW) in the 35th Annual Rip Curl Pro presented by Snickers at Bells Beach today.
"It just feels too good to be true, I'm just so happy," Burrow said. "This is my pick of any contest that I would like to win, so it just feels unbelievable. I'm so happy to get my name on the trophy with all of the other guys' that have won the event. I've put a bit more work into this year so it's good that I'm seeing some results."
Burrow came from behind to beat Irons with just two minutes left on the clock when he scored a 9.00 point ride in the dying minutes of the heat.
“Everyone writes you off as soon you get a bad result so it feels good to show that I am still here and I'm not going anywhere.” — Andy Irons
"I knew I had to ride it well because it was such a good wave," Burrow said. "I was trying not to think about finishing the wave and everything around me or how many people were watching and how much pressure was on me. I just rode the thing to the end. Halfway through it I knew I had the score so I just started thrashing it around a little more and trying to put more into each of my turns. I just had that feeling where I went 'Yes, I just nailed it!' in the last few seconds and it felt unbelievable."
Burrow featured in the Rip Curl Pro final in 2004, but finished runner-up to Joel Parkinson (AUS). He hasn't won a Foster's ASP World Tour victory since winning in Brazil in 2004.
"It feels unreal just to ring that thing finally," Burrow said. "Having rung the little one, the big one's a lot louder."
Burrow now sits equal 1st with Mick Fanning (AUS) on the Foster's ASP World Tour ratings with a win and a 3rd place result each. Both Australians are out to earn their maiden world titles in 2007.
"It's early days and there are a lot of hungry guys out there for it, but I'm just stoked to have such a good start to the year," Burrow said. "It's unreal, it feels like a little changing of the guards, so I'm stoked to be a part of it."
Irons, who was the Rip Curl Pro Champion in 2002 and 2003 as well as runner-up to Trent Munro (AUS) in 2005, led for much of the final, but without a solid scoreline to buffer Burrow's charge, was left defenseless and unable to answer back in the dying seconds of the heat.
"You never have it in the bag, especially in a final with a guy like Taj," Irons said. "I knew there was another set coming in, I just wasn't sure if it was a good one. There were two waves in my set but I don't think that I would have got a 9.00 on my wave. I think Taj surfed well and smart in the end so he nailed it."
The three-time world champion's Rip Curl Pro Final berth was especially important after finishing last in the first event of the year on the Gold Coast. Despite finishing second today, Irons was pleased to share the podium and Bell ringing responsibilities with Burrow.
"I'm stoked for him," Irons said. "I've got two runner-ups and two wins at Bells and that's not bad. Everyone writes you off as soon you get a bad result so it feels good to show that I am still here and I'm not going anywhere."
Irons, who is chasing his fourth world title this year was first to acknowledge that the Australians, Burrow and Fanning in particular, are anxious to make a charge.
"They're hungry, they're really hungry," Irons said. "The last Aussie world champ was Occy in '99 so I'm sure that they are definitely going to have a big push this year. They've have always been up there, it is just a matter of putting the whole year together. There's only been two events so will see how they do when it comes to the 10th event."