That spark that Taj brought to Lowers year after year will be missed. Photo: Wilson
It’s almost Christmas time for us Southern California surf nerds. The hype of world title implications begins to build, the entirety of world tour heads to one of the most rippable waves on the planet, and best of all, this all goes down right in our backyard. Yes, the Hurley Lowers Pro is fast approaching and quite honestly, it’s got my mind running. “Who’s looking good?” “Will the waves deliver?” “Can that bald guy pull out another win from the depths of his magic hat?” “Will there be enough porta-pottys??” All valid. All yet to be answered. But what we can do at this point is reflect upon some of the best moments that Lowers has given in the past – three of ’em to be exact. Have a scroll through what I considered my top three favorite Finals from the past ten years at Trestles, and let that excitement simmer for just one more week. –Dayton Silva
3.) 2013, Taj Burrow vs. Julian Wilson
This one was a vengeance win. One that was a missing garnish in Taj’s decorated career. After being emotionally robbed in 2008 by Slater (As you’ll see below), making the Final in 2013 definitely birthed some flashbacks. Most everyone was in Taj’s corner, partially because of him being a veteran and having never won at Lowers, and partially because of that dreaded loss back in ’08. After a heated battle with Jules, who was surfing out of his head the entire event, Taj ended up walking away victorious. This would turn out to be Taj’s last-ever career win on tour and rid his closet of that ugly skeleton.
2.) 2015, Mick Fanning vs. Adriano de Souza
The waves may not have been pumping, but got-damn, was this an all-out slugfest. Score after score, exchange after exchange, the two left nothing in the tank by the time buzzer sounded. This was fresh off Mick’s incident at J-Bay last year and after taking a 13th in Tahiti, this win pumped new life into his 2015 campaign after a strange couple months. Although ADS would go on to win the title, this Final display the fact that competitive ferocity was alive and well in the sport of pro surfing.
1.) 2008, Taj Burrow vs. Kelly Slater
HEARTBREAK! Ahh, this one still hurts. It’s not that I wanted Kelly to lose, I don’t think anyone did, it’s just that this was indisputably Taj’s event to win. The entire Final day he was surfing with relentless conviction. So, when he opened up the final with a pair of scores north of the nine-point range, it was just about all locked-up. But “just about” isn’t a sure thing – and remember, this was Kelly Slater he was up against. And not the expiremental-board-riding, hand-in-ten different business endeavors Kelly. This was this the DJ Khaled screamin’ “ALL I DO IS WIN, WIN, WIN NO MATTER WHAT” Kelly. And win he did in the dying seconds after a scurry for scores under Taj’s priority. As Brendan Buckley put it best, “Slater’s gunna Slate.”