BACK ON TRACK Taj Burrow Keeps His Title Hopes Alive

“It felt like a ten,” said Taj Burrow after his second round heat. It was all that really needed to be said about the first perfect ten-point ride of this year's event, but since you weren't there, (which is safe to assume since you're reading this report) you probably want to read about it here.

“The wave was far-and-away superior to anything else ridden in the contest so far.”

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Up until that point, there had not been a single wave that had even resembled a ten point ride. Sure, there had been a number of 9+ rides, such as Kelly Slater's 9.17 on the first wave of the day, which helped him cement a comfortable place in the third round, and there were some fireworks as local riders Travis Logie and Royden Bryson dominated their heats.

But Taj's wave was a cut above the rest, and he made full use of it by ducking into no fewer than five tubes on his way down to the impossible section of Supertubes. As Taj later commented, “Tens are hard to come by,” but the truth about that wave is it was so far-and-away superior to anything else ridden in the contest so far, the judges had no choice but to award it the maximum score.

The ride, coupled with another that registered an 8.33 on the judges' scales, put Taj up to an unassailable score that left local wildcard Damien Fahrenfort in combo-land. The win was emphatic, and Taj's surfing proved that he belonged in the hunt for the 2007 world title, which is now well and truly alive considering that four of the top five are still in the event.

The only casualty among the title contenders was current world number 2, Damien Hobgood, after he bowed out with an equal 33rd next to his name. Hobgood, who is struggling with an injury he received after the final in Arica, Chile, fell to local wildcard Shaun Payne in wild, windy conditions.

Damien disobeyed doctor's orders to skip the event and courageously fought on in a desperate attempt to register a decent finish at the midway point of the season. He looked thoroughly dejected as he made his way back to the tower, carrying his injury and the knowledge that his world title bid may have ended on a blustery, inconsistent day at Supertubes.