Easy Breezy Andy: Andy wins the OP Pro Hawaii with a Kelly-like cool, while Taj takes second with an Andy-like intensity.

posted by / News / November 21, 2006

EVENTS HELD: Round of 32 all the way to the final.
CONDITIONS: Slightly choppy, 2-3 foot rights and lefts
NATURE’S CALL: Losing interest fast.
PREDICTIONS: Andy parties. Joel Centeio parties. And the Aussies play tennis.


On Tuesday, Andy didn’t stare anyone down. He didn’t lose it much when things weren’t going his way. He smiled. He laughed. He simply cruised. So hard in fact you almost didn’t even notice him. Slipping in and out of the contest with Lyndie, no pressure coming from anywhere, the normally ice-cold competitor was as laid back as a Corona commercial this week. He let other sideshows take the spotlight. The attention switched to the Taj, Parko and Fanning trio and the WQS wonder boys Joel Centeio and Ben Bourgeois. Andy even went as far as deferring some attention in post-heat interviews, “I’m really stoked for Joel to come out and do well out here,” he said about fellow Hawaiian Joel Centeio’s 3rd place finish at Haleiwa. “He deserves a good result in his hometown.” Joel didn’t mind the attention.

After years of grunt work on the WQS, you got the feeling Centeio would gladly go through it again to get to this moment, perched atop the podium with Taj, Andy, and WCT Frenchie, Miky Picon, with all his friends there on the beach. On the bubble for WCT qualification, Centeio will need another good result at Sunset to qualify, but either way this is a major motivator going into next year. And possibly more importantly, it’s a reason to celebrate. He and fellow QS bubble boy Ben Bourgeois accomplished exactly what they came to do at the WQS 6-star: get a solid result to finish the season and move one step closer to the WCT. So you know the Bud Lights will be flowing and the bruddahs will be stoked tonight at Cholos for the celebration. As for the Aussies, they have other ideas. After Taj’s heartbreaking loss, Parko’s 5th year in a row losing in the semis, and Fanning’s shocking exit: the Aussies headed for the courts. Tennis time. “F—k it, let’s just get to the courts,” said Jarrad Howse in the competitors tent, “ we’ll grab a couple of cervezas and get a tournament going.” Jake Paterson, Ace Buchan, Tom Whitaker, and Jarrad all answered the call for an evening of yellow ball.

After such a tough day the boys from down under needed an escape. It was a day of frustration. Parko had an interference in his semifinal heat, but he was able to post an 8.9 and had everyone hoping he’d be able to pull off the heat with the triangle. He started surfing possessed. Everything was aggressive, yet still had Parko fluidity and style. He got a right and busted a massive air to layback, then continued for two more tail-out slams. The score: a 6. Are you kidding me? The Aussie camp was devastated. “I should have known though,” said Parko, “I’ve lost out in the semis out here in 5 straight years. It’s a curse.” Taj had similar frustrations in the final. After surfing better than everyone for most of the event, Taj fell victim to a dying swell and some slight underscoring. He sat the rest of the heat looking for anything that would move. It did finally come. But not until the horn had blown Andy already won. Taj rode in on a wave that would have easily been an 8. You can bet he joined his mates for those cervezas on the tennis court after the comp.


So to recap: how ironic is it that Andy wins with the same calm, Kelly approach that was his doom on the WCT this year? And that Taj takes second with the intense Andy approach? Well, very. It could say something about the new directions of the professional surfing mentality. It’s clearly becoming the cool kids who are winning, not the eggy, intense ones. And today was a major illustration of that. After the final, Taj came in visibly frustrated. After this WCT season, he knows he can beat Andy. He knows he’s surfing good. And he knows he should have won today’s final. “It’s f—-ing ridiculous,” he said to Jake Patterson, as he slammed his Firewire on the board rack. The waves. The scoring. Whatever it was, Taj has a new passionate approach to competing, and I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing. Because once he harnesses this phase, it’ll be cool, winning Taj’s turn. It’s good to see that he finally realizes he should be the best surfer in the world. But unfortunately, today Andy played Kelly. And Taj played Andy. And we know what happens next.

Results of the OP Pro Hawaii. The first stop on the {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown of Surfing Tour.

1.Andy Irons HAW
2. Taj Burrow AUS
3. Joel Centeio HAW
4. Miky Picon FRA

[Special thanks to Tradewinds U Drive car rentals. tradewindsudrive.com.]

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