Taj Burrow wins the O'Neill Cold Water Classic, Santa Cruz

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posted by Stab

Taj Burrow, with his second win of the season.  Photo: Ryan Miller

Taj Burrow just won the O’Neill Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane, in Santa Cruz. His 13.10 combined total in the final beat Matt Wilkinson’s 12.70. ”It feels incredible,” said Taj. “I really wanted to win another event this year. The final was hectic. I feel sad for Wilko but it was the same for me, it was the battle of the backups. We had the same score and it was next best wave wins. We both stacked it on a couple, we both just were in a fluster. Y’know, Wilko had that last wave and I think he fell on his last turn, and he would’ve got the score because his backside was going mad. But, I’ll take it. I fell on one too, both our backups were fall-offs. I’m sure the crowd was on the edge of their seats, I hope it was entertaining.”

Matt Wilkinson, with his first WCT Final.  Photo: Ryan Miller

At Shmoo’s suggestion that Taj hadn’t dropped a heat all event and was on fire, Taj downplayed it a little. “I don’t know, it just happens sometimes,” he said. “I was kinda in the zone, I didn’t really have a good heat the whole event but I still felt good. It’s just a tricky wave, and I guess the best thing I can say was just wave count. It just fell into place.”

And, as always, Taj attributed some of the win to his trainer, Johnny Gannon: “He just tells me to deep breathe and relax no matter what the situation is. Just good, basic stuff that I need to be reminded of. It’s great having him in my corner and I’m sure he’s gonna be pretty happy too.”

Kelly Slater, defeated by Adriano De Souza in Round Five.  Photo: ASP / Kirstin

And can y’believe this is Matt Wilkinson’s first world tour final? “I was stoked when I made it through the third round, so every heat after that I kinda just kept building and it felt amazing,” said Wilko. “I was getting 9s and actually backing them up. All year I’ve been dropping one big score and then just having nothing. Out here it felt like I kept getting better and better every heat. But I just didn’t do it and… I’m not gonna cry.”

And, the best thing about making the final for Wilko? Saving his skin, points-wise, coming into Hawaii. “I was kinda starting to freak out,” he said. “I didn’t want it to be left up to Hawaii and need points, ’cause anything can happen there. There’s a bunch of other locals in the contest so it’s not like any other event. We have to surf a few more rounds than usual. The further down the list you are, the more that you need points and the harder it is for you ’cause you’ve gotta surf more rounds. I’m definitely glad.”

Oh, and, even though Joel Parkinson’s still leading the ratings, Kelly’s hot on his heels after replacing a last place with a ninth. “I haven’t looked at the numbers, but it’s funny enough, I gained a couple thousand points,” Kelly said. “Joel dropped a ninth and gained a fifth and I dropped a 500 and gained about 3,000 points. It’s a huge opportunity lost for Joel.”

More photos?  Click here.

1 – 
Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.10
2 – Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.70

SF 1:
 Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.57 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.40
SF 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 17.73 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.10

QF 1:
 Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.83 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 8.60
QF 2: Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.83 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.00

Heat 1:
 Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.16 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 6.70
Heat 2: Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.50 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 8.90
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.00 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.00
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 9.40

CURRENT ASP WCT TOP 5 (After O’Neill Coldwater Classic):
Joel Parkinson (AUS) 53,900 pts
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 50,700 pts
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 47,000 pts
4. John John Florence (HAW) 44,350 pts
5. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 42,350 pts