Taj Burrow Stakes Claim for Rip Curl Pro Title

posted by / News / April 14, 2006

West Australia’s Taj Burrow was the man of the moment at the Rip Curl Pro after he put on a phenomenal performance at Bells Beach today.

The second event on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour was held in spectacular one to two metre (three to six feet) waves at Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia and Burrow had the huge crowd in attendance on their feet for the full 30 minutes of his heat.

After an ankle injury hampered Burrow’s end of season run in 2005, he has returned in 2006 with enthusiasm to burn.

He began the year with a second placing to Kelly Slater (USA) in the first event of the tour and noted there that in 2006 he is extremely focussed and hungry for the world crown.

His focus was highly evident when he entered the water in heat 11 as he shut the door on Chris Ward (USA) and posted the highest total score of the day – an 18.17 out of 20.

Burrow likened the conditions to the time he finished runner-up to Joel Parkinson (AUS) in 2004.

“It’s great to be at the Bells Beach Bowl,” said Burrow. “I’m loving it and I’m stoked with that heat for sure. The waves are really similar to the ones I had in the final with Joel Parkinson a couple of years ago. The place gives everyone a plenty of chances to grab the ones they need and paint a clear picture for the judges.”

Burrow also indicated that he had shifted his mindset a little and is taking his heat strategy much more seriously.

“I’ve made some subtle changes to my mindset,” said Burrow. “I’m trying to surf more confident. I’ve always tried to surf as if I’m free surfing, but I feel like I can do that a little bit better now, I’m just more relaxed.”

Following hot on the heels of Burrow was fellow Australian and good mate Mick Fanning (AUS) who logged in the second highest score of the day – a 17.96.

Fanning was razor sharp through his lightening quick turns and having won the event five years ago, he looked extremely in tune with his equipment and the waves.

“After the first event on the Gold Coast here in Australia, where I only got a couple of decent scores, I really wanted to work on my consistency,” said Fanning. “And everything felt good out there today. I got the waves and did what I had to do.”

Fanning was also inspired by the standard of surfing from his peers and the quality of the famed Bells Beach waves.

“I got pretty excited watching Taj the other day,” said Fanning. “And then he went mad again today. It’s always good to have someone like that a couple of heats before you so you can get really psyched. Conditions haven’t been this good since 2001 when I won so hopefully I can keep going and win the bell at the end!”

Not far from the frontrunners were Andy Irons (HAW) and Kelly Slater (USA) who between the two of them have 10 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour crowns. Slater, seven and Irons three.

Both have won the Rip Curl Pro, with Irons claiming the win in 2003 and 2004.

Slater meanwhile, has not won the event since 1994 and has been plagued by poor results in recent years.

He looked to be enjoying himself on the walling rights as he defeated wildcard Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) although he was feeling the effects of fatigue as the waves are very long and Basalso was feeling the effects even more.

“You do a bunch of turns down the line and it takes all the oxygen out of your legs, so your legs are burning by the end,” said Slater. “Kekoa is a great surfer. By the sound things he needs to work on his fitness a little bit. He said he was tired and had to sit down for 15 minutes after his heat yesterday, but he has all the surfing ability in the world and I think getting into this event will really get him going and we’ll see some good things from him in the future.”

Irons meanwhile, will meet Bobby Martinez (USA) in round four and acknowledges that the young guns are always a threat, paying homage to his counterpart Dunn whom he has drawn in events on numerous occasions.

“Ben Dunn had me on the ropes here last year,” said Irons. “He got a 9.67 on the first wave of that heat so I wasn’t going to take him lightly at all. He’s a little ripper so I knew he was going to come at me with everything he had. I just got lucky out there today. I got in a rhythm with the wave and posted my scores early and I think he started stressing out which showed in his surfing.”

After his win over fellow countryman Victor Ribas, Brazilian Paulo Moura also earned a berth in round four.

He was ecstatic with his progression but felt for his good friend, Ribas.

“It’s hard. Victor and I are here together,” said Moura. “We’re good friends and he’s always been an idol for me. I’ve watched him surf since I was a kid. But in the water we’re there to do the best job we can and the result of the heat is a consequence of that.”

Organisers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am and will be looking at a 7.30am start if quality conditions prevail.

There are two heats still to be completed in round three.

Results round three:

Heat 1: Luke Stedman (AUS) 15.24 def Phil MacDonald 14.84
Heat 2: Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 17.17 def Fred Patacchia (HAW) 11.00
Heat 3: Paulo Moura (BRA) 12.84 def Victor Ribas (BRA) 10.83
Heat 4: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 15.66 def Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.07
Heat 5: Bruce Irons (HAW) 15.17 def Tim Reyes (USA) 9.00
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.40 def {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (USA) 13.33
Heat 7: Taylor Knox 13.83 (USA) def Tom Whitaker 2.43 (Aus)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater 17.23 (USA) def Kekoa Bacalso 10.17 (Haw)Heat 9: Andy Irons 17.77 (Haw) def Ben Dunn 9.50 (Aus)
Heat 10: Bobby Martinez 14.50 (USA) def Marcelo Nunes 2.60 (Bra)
Heat 11: Taj Burrow 18.17 (Aus) def Chris Ward 13.93 (USA)
Heat 12: Mark Occhilupo 16.10 (Aus) def Cory Lopez 13.33 (USA)
Heat 13: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.96 def Jarrad Howse (AUS) 11.67
Heat 14: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.50 def Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.16

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