The world title race wasn’t the only storyline unfolding on the fabled chunk of reef at Pipeline today during the Billabong Pipe Masters. Two of the Tour’s favorite sons, veteran Aussie competitors Bede Durbidge and Josh Kerr, said farewell to full-time competition after being dispatched in Rounds 2 and 3, respectively. The duo bowed out with over 20 years of combined Tour experience, and they’ll be dearly missed by their fellow competitors.
Durbidge was the first to take his chair ride up the beach on the shoulders of Kerr and Ace Buchan after Durbidge fell to Mick Fanning in their Round 2 matchup. In his last heat, Durbidge caught a buzzer-beater that had him powering through a seemingly-endless chandelier section at Backdoor, and looked like it’d easily snag him the 3.73 that he needed to advance, but instead he came up just 0.03 shy.
“I can’t believe they didn’t give it to me,” said Durbidge with a laugh as he climbed aboard Kerr and Buchan. “That was the best 3 I’ve surfed in my life!”
After his chair up the beach, Durbidge spoke with Kaipo Guerrero and reflected on his 13 years of World Tour competition, and talked about what the future will hold for him.
“I got a really good job moving forward and transitioning into working with the Olympic Australian team at the HPC [High-Performance Center] with Surfing Australia. It’s super exciting for me and something I’m very passionate about. I’m moving into that in January and it’s going to be another fun journey and another fun chapter in life.”
Later in the day, all eyes were on Kerr as he faced off against Gabriel Medina in a heat that had huge world title implications. Kerr held the lead in the final minutes against the current World No. 2, but Medina kicked things into another gear, threading the highest-scoring tube of the heat, backing it up with a few backhand snaps at Backdoor and even throwing a nearly-stuck backflip on a small Pipe runner. In the end, it was just enough to put a period at the end of Kerr’s long and storied ‘CT career.
“It was definitely an emotional moment, my daughter comes up on the beach crying and kissing me, and all the boys are there carrying me up. It’s super bittersweet. I’d love to keep going, but the most I’ve learned is that winning isn’t everything. I think I’m just stoked on where I’m at in life and everything like that. I feel like I’m winning with a great family, a good group of friends and family around me and I couldn’t be happier with everything I’ve done in the past and what I’ve got moving forward, so I’m really excited.”
For more on all the action from the second day of the Billabong Pipe Masters, check back on Surfer.com for the Doherty Report, coming soon.
[Top Image: Durbidge, taking one last chair up the beach. Photo from WSL/Heff]