2012 Coldwater Classic champ Taj Burrow hoists his Jack O'Neill trophy. Photo: Ellis

On Election Day, the town of Santa Cruz woke up early, called in sick, hit the polls, then lined the cliffs for Finals day at the 2012 Coldwater Classic. For the first time since 1990, the World Tour stopped in Santa Cruz, and the town rose to the occasion. What a host Steamer Lane has been.

Taj Burrow and Matt Wilkinson met in the Final. From the start, Burrow didn’t lose a single heat, mowing down his competitors with trademark consistency and a lethal approach to the sets wrapping off the point. In every heat of the event, Burrow's opening wave scored a 6.8 or higher.

Wilko was Burrow's first victim in Round 1, but he recovered to put together an inspired run that began with his upset of John Florence in Round 2. At that point you could tell that Wilko’s surfing was perfectly suited to The Lane. His backhand attack and patience earned him scores in the excellent range, and in his first Tour Final, it was almost enough to upset Taj. In characteristic fashion, Burrow opened the Final with a 7.17 and soon added a backup 4.9. Halfway through the heat, Wilko answered back with a 7.2 to add to his 4.5. As he climbed the cliff and ran around to the point, the tide seemed destined to swing in his direction. With a minute left, Wilko sat out back with priority, needing a 5.9 for the win.

It was as if the people of Santa Cruz willed that set wave that wrapped around the point into existence as it stacked up for Wilko. He dropped in and linked two successive hacks, sticking to the formula that had got him this far, but on his finishing maneuver the lip pitched over his in-pocket turn, bucking him from his board and into the whitewash.

Burrow sat alone out back, head in his hands, awaiting the judges score. When they announced it as a 5.5, he lifted his hands and head to the sky, a rightful claim for his 2012 Coldwater Classic win. They chaired him to the point and covered him in champagne, as half of the crowd cheered and the other half paddled back out to their homebreak at The Lane.

Taj Burrow def. Matt Wilkinson

Taj Burrow def. Travis Logie
Matt Wilkinson def. Michel Bourez

Taj Burrow def. Gabriel Medina
Travis Logie def. Joel Parkinson
Michel Bourez def. Jeremy Flores
Matt Wilkinson def. Adriano de Souza