Taj Burrow wins the 2009 Billabong Pipeline Masters



….insane quantities of money handed out at Billabong Pipeline Masters as Aussies scoop the pool

Surf: 4-6 foot sloppy barrels, turning onshore at lunch

Events held: Quarters through to final

Nature's Call: Frankly, I don't think you could take an epic 12-foot day right now

Predicted: The third brutal party night in four days

"One hundred percent as good as you'd imagine."

And with that, Taj Burrow left it to the crowd's personal imaginations.

What DO you imagine it might feel like, anyway: winning your first major world tour event in ages, at a spot where you don't often make the quarters, against the biggest gun opposition in the world, then getting a $50,000 BONUS on top of the $40g first prize?

Taj, Joel Parkinson and Steph Gilmore were all happy beneficiaries of Vans's staggering largesse today, as $125,000 in extra Triple Crown booty washed around the stage, joining the $50g bonus already claimed by new world champ Mick Fanning three days ago.

All that money did a lot to fuel an anticlimactic final day at Pipe, when even the conditions decided to go on vacation. Having disposed of a flaring Dane Reynolds in his semi and facing Kelly Slater in the final, Taj was first to see that moves, not barrels, would decide whose bank account got the biggest kick.

His opening ride, a series of nice loose airs and carves, earned him a 7.0 – perhaps the highest score recorded for a turn at Pipe since Tom Carroll's Snap in 1991.

The tactic threw Kelly, who'd gone out still in barrel mode after having tube-timed his way to the final with typical ease. "I thought maybe the second wave of the sets would clean up and barrel anyway, but…no," he explained. Clearly in two minds, the six time Pipe champ wandered around the lineup, trying to decide if he should chase Taj's lead or wait for a miracle.

But it was no day for miracles. Not if you were from Florida, anyway. Both the Hobgoods, who'd been destroying the event till this point, found this out; CJ at the hands of Dane, who coulda won two heats with his effort in their quarterfinal, and Damien at the hand of Dean Morrison. Literally, at his hand.

With 20 seconds to go in the heat, Damo – needing a low three – paddled for a small wave, Dingo scratching frantically for it behind him. Damien was pushing off his board when boom! His board stopped dead in the water.

Was that a leash grab we just saw??

"What's up, Burkhart??" Damo said to Dean, bringing back memories of North Shore: The Movie. "It was an accident!!" Dingo swore.

Dean reckoned he'd been paddling so hard he didn't notice his arm had slipped into a coil of Damo's leash. The judges decided to let it pass, since Dingo had priority at the time.

The news was greeted with a screech of joy from Dingo's soon-to-be-wife Alanna, who came running out onto the Volcom house balcony and yelled: "That's RIGHT!" Realizing a thousand or so people were watching, she said with admirable style, "Thank you," flashed a peace sign and walked back indoors.

It was the day's one moment of drama amid a long, tribute-laden few hours at Ehukai Beach, with guest performances from numerous ex-Pipe Masters including Gerry Lopez and Rory Russell, who both seemed truly happy to be there on this sacred turf, and Jamie O'Brien, who pulled a perfect rodeo flip five minutes before the final hit the water.

It was the move Kelly had once tried here in a heat, and he could have done with pulling one this time, but …as he said, no.

Meanwhile, Taj had it all: the Lopez-shaped trophy board, the actual cast-metal trophy, the crown of flowers, and the year's-salary-type check. It was a massive reward for a well-judged performance. His fellow Aussie winners gathered round him, Fanning wearing a "Yeah Parko!" t-shirt in friendly honor of his vanquished mate. "I'm a happy camper," was about all Taj could say.

"It's been so emotional (at the house where he's been staying with Joel and AI) in the last few days, and when the world title was all sorted out, the attention turned to me. I'm so happy I could win this event."


1 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.83
2 – Kelly Slater (USA) 7.10

SF 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.17 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 7.00
SF 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.50 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 11.67

QF 1: Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.00 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.17
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.24 def. Flynn Novak (HAW) 13.87
QF 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.90 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.40
QF 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.10 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.67

2009 ASP World Champion: Mick Fanning (AUS) – awarded bonus $50,000
2009 Vans Triple Crown Champion: Joel Parkinson (AUS) – awarded bonus $50,000
2009 Billabong Pipe Masters Champion: Taj Burrow (AUS) – awarded bonus $50,000

1 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6694 points
2 – C.J. Hobgood (USA) 6213 points
3 – Torrey Meister (HAW) 5775 points