Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, the books of the 2007 ASP season have now been closed, and I'm sorry to say that those bloody Aussies absolutely mopped the floor with everybody else in the world. Figure this, with Bede Durbidge's unexpected win at the Pipe Masters—or should we say Off The Wall Masters considering nary a tube was ridden across the Banzai reef all day—those scurvy dogs from Down Under finish the season holding down four of the top five spots in the world, not to mention they took up three of the four spots in the final at the Pipe Master's today
We all know about our new title-holder Mick Fanning, who incidentally lost to wildcard Ian Walsh in the early days of Round Four. White Lightning, Eugene, The Champ, call him what you will, but the man who keeps it tight with a number-two crew cut had an absolutely blistering year, firing up the Aussie pride all along the way. And of course on the girl's side Steph Gilmore crushed a few dreams in just her rookie year. Then there's perennial runner-up Taj Burrow, who seems to have a bit of a Cheyne Horan thing going on as he's finished second in the world three times in nine years on tour. Joel Parkinson slid right in there with a very respectable fourth, which is especially impressive considering the fact that the only final he made all year was at Pipe—oops, Off The Wall—this year. But the most unlikely of all is a fella who spent the first half of the year sponsorless, good, old, nice-guy Bede Durbide. Proving that you have to spend money to make money, with his win at the Pipe Master's today Bede walked away with a cool 30-grand in cash, a new $25,000 Chevy, and some crazy, $10,000, diamond-encrusted Nixon watch.
Being a good Aussie, Bede was shuttled up the beach on the shoulder of his mates while waving the flag and exclaiming, in classic Aussie-speak, "I'm over the moon!" And if all the cash and etching his name on the Pipe Master's trophy wasn't enough. Bede also sealed the deal on the Triple Crown of Surfing, becoming the first Aussie to win it since '97.
So, to recap, both world champs are Aussies, the Triple Crown champ is an Aussie, there are more Aussies in the top 15 on tour than all other countries combined. Up until this year the world could count on Kelly Slater, but he's made mention that '07 was his last full year on tour and chances of seeing too much of him in '08 are slim. Maybe it'll take new kids on the block Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith to break the stranglehold.
And as for the conditions on the final day of competition, if ever there were to be an asterisk next to a Pipe Master this might have been it. Starved for swell, and with nothing on the horizon until after the contest's waiting period, event organizers' hands were forced and they had to settle for random three-foot peaks bouncing around between Pipe, Backdoor and Off The Wall. "Obviously the conditions weren't classic Pipeline, but the competition was still pretty intense," summed up Bede. "We had the new dual heat format and a lot of guys were on the bubble for qualification so there were a lot of hungry guys out there in this event."
"The key is to not look at it," joked Parko after his Round Four win this morning. "It's depressing, so you just don't look at it and pretend you're just going out for a quick surf."
But maybe it was Mark Healey that summed it up best. Leaving the North Shore for a catalog shoot in California he laughed, "I'm just glad I wasn't in it this year."
Not to take anything away from Bede's performance today, after all, a surf contest is a surf contest, no matter what the waves are doing, and if you can go out and post 9.5s, usually you're going to win. So, congratulations Bede. Congratulations Australia. Enjoy it…the rest of the world's coming.
ASP Press Release and Full Results on Page 2