"You've gotta spin to win," joked Joel Parkinson as he watched friend and fellow finalist Taj Burrow being interviewed by the press. Burrow had just air reversed his way to back-to-back victories in the Breaka Burleigh Pro, the four-star ASP Tour qualifying event at Burleigh heads in Queensland, Australia. Parko took second, followed by Bede Durbidge in third.
Parko had tried to reign in the flying Burrow but ran out of time in the 40-minute final. "I tried to pounce but there weren't enough waves towards the end," said Parko. "I had a good chance to see how Taj was getting his speed and how he was working the waves so it was a good learning experience for next week."
Burrow was on the same tack. "I was getting off on all the good surfing this week, just feeding off everyone else," said Burrow after leaving the water. "It's the perfect result for me just before stepping into Snapper ... and I've got some really good boards at the moment so I'm pretty happy."
When asked about all the air reverses Burrow just laughed. "You kind of had to do them, everyone was doing them," he said. "I was getting a bit scared towards the end of the final -- [Parko] was getting close but I held him off."
Next week is the real deal: the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks, which is just a few miles down the coast from Burleigh. It's the first World Tour event of 2011, and it's where Burrow is also defending champion. All the air moves that went down this week could be a signal of things to come on the 2011 World Tour. Everyone in the contest had one or two in their repertoire and the judges loved them.
A lot of the World Tour surfers used the Breaka Burleigh Pro as a warm up for the Quiksilver Pro. Of the 13 World Tour surfers in the event, the standouts were Brett Simpson and Tiago Pires. Pires changed sponsors during the break and his new quiver of boards appear to be working for him -- it was only the lack of waves in the first semifinal that put an end to his run. Simpson was knocked out in a stacked quarterfinal, losing to Parko and Julian Wilson.
Wilson, who also has new stickers on his boards, cruised through this event, popping all sorts of airs on his way to the semifinals. A tactical mistake -- read dumb interference -- cost him a berth in the final but he seems ready for the big league in 2011, carrying the form that saw him sneak into the Top 32 late last year.
The 2011 Breaka Burleigh Pro will be remembered for Burrow's back-to-back wins but also for the fight involving Jeremy Flores and Sunny Garcia, the local surfer who dropped in on his son Stone while the Breaka was on hold.
For four days out of the five-day event, competitors had to deal with free surfers in the competition area. The beach announcers asked them to move out of the way but to no avail. After the incident involving Garcia and Flores, the contest organizers had two water patrol jet skis keeping the free surfers out.