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Burrow goes airborne to win Pipeline


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Taj Burrow didn't need to ride a barrel in the final heat of the Billabong Pipeline Masters yesterday to capture a win. In fact, the 31-year-old Australian used high-performance surfing to beat six-time Pipe Master Kelly Slater at the third jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

“;The Pipe Masters is the ultimate of surf events,”; said Burrow. “;It's a dream come true and I never pictured myself being here.”;

The new Pipeline Masters champion received a dream payday—$40,000 from Billabong for the win, a $50,000 bonus from Vans, as well as a $10,000 custom Nixon watch and a hand-shaped surfboard trophy by Pipeline legend Gerry Lopez. According to Burrow, he had a “;good feeling”; since he woke up on the final day of competition.

Earlier yesterday morning, judges announced that they would factor an “;explosive maneuver category”; into scoring. The 8- to 12-foot wave faces were pristine, but tubing rides became scarce as the day progressed. There were big-scoring barrel rides in the morning from the quarterfinals to the semis. By the time the final heat started at 1 p.m., a westerly breeze killed the clean conditions, according to nine-time world champ Kelly Slater.

“;Unfortunately, the final was kind of a letdown,”; said Slater, who claimed second place in his fourteenth Pipe Masters final. “;(The waves were) kind of shutting down, there were a few that were real peaky with no wall and some were closing out. The winds were light (from the west), so it was crumbling the wave.”;

Slater—whose two-wave total in the final was 7.10 out of a possible 20 points—struggled to find a decent wave in the deteriorating surf. While Slater searched, Burrow thrived on the wedging rights at Backdoor. Lightning-fast, tail-blowing turns and a big alley-oop 360 air allowed Burrow to score a 12.83.

“;I saw those rights going into the wind and I really wanted to do some airs,”; said Burrow, who is widely regarded as one of the world's most prolific aerial surfers on the World Championship Tour. “;The whole event, I kind of just focused on getting barreled, but when I saw those little ramps, then I thought now I can have fun doing some airs. I think the way to do it is to be happy with the conditions.”;

Australian Joel Parkinson was also crowned yesterday as the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champion, earning $50,000 for defending the title.

“;This is my consolation prize,”; said Parkinson. “;To me, the Triple Crown is the next best thing (to a world title). I'm over the moon. I'm really happy with what happened this year and I should be really proud of everything I've done. Vans stepped it up to a new level this winter with huge incentives and if they keep throwing that out, I'll keep coming back.”;