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How to Retire, With Taj Burrow

We almost did a day 3 recap, but then Taj happened.

The heat of the day/year was John John vs. Taj. In what would prove to be Taj’s last ever heat on tour, the cherubic Aussie put on a performance for the ages. He slipped into caves, slapped into lips, and laughed his way back to the lineup after each mesmerizing ride. Meanwhile, John John John-Johned, stringing together his own list of incredible tubes and turns that would have him surpass Taj by a mere .16 points. But it doesn’t really matter.

This heat was, in my opinion, a perfect ending to Taj’s career. Some might say a win would be better, but those people just don’t understand symbolism.

Taj’s career is defined by incredible surfing, sheer innovation, but most importantly, fun. The Aussie may never have gotten his world title, but he likely enjoyed his career more than anyone – even those with 3 or 11 or any number of golden cups.

By amassing 18+ points and losing, Taj lived up to his reputation as an over-accomplished bridesmaid. In the same way that he would have won any other heat today, Taj would have won a world title if he hadn’t existed in the Slater era.

But does that make Taj unlucky? He certainly wouldn’t have you think so. After ending a 20-year career by surfing perfect Cloudbreak and wrangling four waves well into the excellent range, it’s hard to argue with him.

“That was one of the best heats of my life, I think,” he giggled to Rosie Hodge. “I just went out there with the goal of getting a sick one. I just wanted to get one of the biggest ones I could find and get barreled basically. I wasn’t too concerned about the result, I just wanted to get a good one. Every time I got off the ski, a crazy, perfect big one would come me and I would be in the perfect spot and just get it straight to the ski on repeat. I was just losing my mind at how fun it was.”

When asked about his last week and a half in Fiji, TB had this to say: “The whole 12 days I’ve been out here have probably been the best days of my life. Surfing a few days at the start of the waiting period then having a bunch of down days to have some beers and celebrate with all of my best friends from the tour, I could not have painted a better picture. I feel like I won the event. I feel like I won the world title.”

Sure counts in our book.

Thanks for everything, TB.

Sincerely,
Surfing (the mag & the sport)