Snapper Rocks Wrap-Up

With early momentum from his gold coast victory, could 2012 be the year of Taj's title?

| posted on March 04, 2012

Taj Burrow, starting with a bang in 2012. Photo: ASP

When World Tour events finish, it usually takes me a few hours—even days, sometimes—for everything that happened to fully register. Not today though. Not when the final day of Snapper is held in 2- to 3-foot slop and everything reverts to script. But in spite of mediocre conditions, a few pivotal moments stand out.

Josh Kerr, after going 0-4 vs. Slater in quarterfinal appearances last year, finally got through to a semifinal, defeating Kelly in decisive fashion. Throughout numerous heats, Kerr showed off improved combinations, connecting maneuvers that compliment the most complete air game in the world. Kerr is a very stable, dangerous threat on Tour. Uncharacteristically, Slater came up short in their match-up, and when Kelly loses, he loses interest in the not-so-dreamy “Dream Tour.” It had to happen eventually.

Jordy Smith looked like the Jordy Smith of years past, when we were all certain that he would one day hold the World Title. Boy how time flies: Jordy is now a Tour veteran and Dane Reynolds is retired. Yet I still write about them together as if they are conjoined twins. We compare and chart Jordy and Dane’s surfing over time with one another because no one else compares to them. Jordy impressed at Snapper with a smooth, powerful variety of complete rides. If the waves were just a hair more powerful he would have been looking better than Taj (who, along with Adriano, had a tremendous advantage in the weak surf). Dane on the other hand has no need to accumulate heat wins, only clips for his next drop on Marine Layer Productions. I’m pretty sure there are as many jaw-dropping highlights from Dane’s two heats as Taj’s entire trip through the final.

Taj Burrow had his hands full back in Round 2 with Dane. A hard fought win then set him on cruise control all the way to victory at the first event of 2012. He did this by outclassing the field in the same blistering form he’s shown since ‘99 when he finished runner-up for the World Title. Now he looks primed to finally go one better…again. Looking the World Title favorite in his 14th year on tour is a hard weight to bear for very long. Lucky for Taj—and unfortunate for us—with only seven events counting this year, and Taj having much better results over hot streaks than prolonged consistency, this could finally be his year. Can he be the 2012 World Champ?

There are always a lot of “ifs” when it comes to the circumstances required for Taj to be on top at the end of a World Tour season. First and foremost is Kelly f–king Slater and his 11 world titles, which have showcased a number of soul-crushing defeats over Taj—Slater has effectively made him his bitch when it comes to man-on-man, World Tour surfing. Even if Kelly doesn’t push hard for a 12th title (he’s already suffered enough waiting around Snapper in crap surf while a number of locations around the world went off) the events he does participate in will still play a major role in deciding who does take his title in 2012. Kelly’s only true weakness is disinterest, as he will sometimes lose due to a lack of engagement in a situation. But any heat vs. Taj, Kelly gives it his all, as if he was Michael Jordan in Game 7 of the NBA finals.

Champions give their all in competition when it matters most, finding levels of performance that even surprise themselves. Taj has never been able to match Kelly, or superstars from other sports, with intensity at decisive moments. There will be a moment in 2012 where Taj is either elated for taking that moment for himself, or, as in years past, returns to the beach in a mess of self-induced anguish at missed opportunity.

At the beginning of the Snapper final, it looked as if Taj would falter in a pivotal moment once again. Everyone’s arch nemesis, Adriano de Souza, was only a judge’s conscience away from the win on his last ride. But they just couldn’t give him the score without a better wall through the inside—despite the best moves of the heat out the back. Adriano’s ability to keep improving year after year is uncanny. Once known as a master tactician for connecting A-Z with floaters, snaps, and cutbacks, he now begins and ends every wave in a much more Josh Kerr fashion than I would have ever predicted. Taj took an extremely close heat win vs. Adriano last year at Snapper, and an even closer final this year. But Taj can’t win every split decision, and if Adriano never backed down to Slater during his title runs, you better believe he’s not going to for Taj.

With such a short season, a good start is a must. Come Bells, any surfer looking to make a move for the No. 1 spot had better post a great result then. Hopefully our prayers for any kind of swell at Bells are answered. It would be a pleasant change from sitting through 30-minute webcast heats, watching two surfers bob up and down like they were in a washing machine on gentle mode. Good waves will allow us to focus on the action at hand, which will be nothing short of phenomenal. When looking at the surfers on Tour, we see the most high performance group of surfers ever compiled to decide a world title.

  • Tim Two Tone

    Was impressed with Adriano’s surfing and his sportsmanship on taking second in what was a very difficult final to judge. There were a number of waves on the last day that were questionably scored. Ace’s same turns over and over? Overscored. Kerr’s sweet air punt and carves? Underscored at 4.8 something. But the right person did win these heats. Taj 9.43 in the final however was WAY overscored. Stoked for Taj, but I kind of think Adriano deserved it more.

  • Vince

    You know, I really wanted Taj to win but couldn’t help being extremely disturbed that the judges gave him a 9.43 for his wave. I thought that showed some bias that should be absent in professional surfing. Yes the brazilian judge put a 9.5 down, true, but after comparing Adriano’s 8.0, it just doesn’t make sense

  • craig

    Yes yes, Dane is the best, Kelly is the hero of the world, taj was lucky, blah blah blah.

  • Luke

    do you realise the photo’s on these features are squashed and warped?

  • oixtepõ

    Very well posted, in my opinion. But about ADS, i never saw him so focus and sharp since that final against ks at classic conditions on supertubes. Hes not gonna be easy to beat in any kind of conditions. Seen´s like he will push he´s limits amazingly, even on the waves of consequence of word dream tour.

    Lucky on taj, but i hope the best wins, becouse that final heat i cant see taj win anyways, it wasnt even a close heat, ADS rips it all over the comp.

    Let the best win.


  • River Dogg

    man who cares other then Taj wins another event since the judging got sorted the head judge sacked rabbit got retierd the asp fell on the Quiksilver induced K-11 sword and the tour is running out of big 3 cartel cash its all going to hell in a handbasket and taking the cartels cash with it to feed the flames , watch closely in the time to come as pros loose contracts , people loose jobs , events get dumped , and the big 3 finally sell out to the likes of Walmart and the major share holders split with the cash ……..Dora was real this shit is not

  • Jay

    Adriano was the best surfer all week and on the final day, he was robbed badly to Taj. It is pretty dissapoint seeing what the judges have been doing in some heats. On this article, you only mentioned ADS once, and he was the best surfer of the event. Poor judgung once again. @*^%:: Shea lopes

  • Richard

    ASP has lost even more credibility…Taj’s 9.43 was embarrassing. I’m far from an ADS fan but he was ripped off …to his credit he took it well.

  • Mike

    Do not like ADS’s surfing, and I love Taj. ADS was clearly robbed! All props to you Adriano! You deserved that one more than any! Bad on ASP…bad on all of us! No blah, blah!

  • Roland

    The asp judges should be arrested. They robbed Adriano so baddly, its not the first time, for sure will not be the last. ASP its not a serious association, and her money crisis its not by accident. Im shame to follow the tour. Pigs.

  • Eddie SIlva

    ADS probably got overscored against Kerr and underscored agains Taj… but that’s ASP these days.

    Probably ADS’s best asset is that he doesn’t complain with judging. He just take the scores and turn the page, moves on.

    Really stoked to see Taj taking the win.

  • Judge #3

    All you Brazilians need to learn English before crying on websites like these. There’s got to be some Brazilian websites you can cry to each other on, right?

  • Luiz

    @ judge#3 i bet u r stupid enough to learn another language u bastard, so why dont go and f@#k yourself

  • Tico Giolo

    Adriano go ahead … you deserve more points in the last wave

  • Rafael Selva

    hey gringos! brasileiros tão chegando! E os juizes vao ter que soltar nota pra nois! Brazilian top tean jiu-jitsu

  • Andrew

    Appart from the early rounds, the waves were quite deceiving. Then, when the waves are crappy, punts and air reverse because something like the only real heat winners. I love airs, fair enough. But i’d like to see move speed and carve between the sections, not only pumping and toying around. I hate to see a surfer kinda of loosing interest in a wave and the regaining it when the wall builds up in front of him. Like the second scoring wave of kerzy in the quarters. His airs were very convincing but he could have destroyed Kelly with a little more speed. But again, I might be too old fashion for you guys. The thing is, Quick coulda used overlapping heats the when the swell was there and we wouldn’t have this conversation, well, I wouldn’t… Congrats to ADS, which I’m not a huge fan. Now, pray for waves at Bells or the next WC will be overshadowed by the fact he did win when Slater was surfing somewhere else (which is not the nicest thing to do at all)

  • General DK

    Hey Judge 3, how’s your Portuguese doing? The English posted by the Brazilians is no worse than that of the English used by the likes of the ASP commentators. People who don’t seem to know the difference between the words good and well, or when to use the singular is versus the plural are. Those amongst many other crimes they commit against basic grammar. You obviously went to the same school. So, to help you, it is not ‘there’s (singular for there has) got to be some sites (plural)’. The correct English is, ‘there have to be some sites….’.
    And yes, Adriano was cheated, but what comes around goes around. Did Judge 3 post a complaint in Portuguese on ‘some Brazilian websites’ last year when Adriano was over-scored on his floater in Rio?
    The Brazilians have arrived. Accept it.

  • Matt O’Brien

    Jay are you illiterate? (you know: can’t read) Shea had quite a bit to say about Adriano… he was breaking down the event – not just the final. Hell if anything, he didn’t mention Ace (but who cares right? – only complain when it is a “dis” against a brazzo). Give IT A BLEEPING REST ALREADY! Just watch the comps and leave the racist anti-Brazilian crap alone – we get “Brazilians get no love” we get it. Make your own damn tour then/or dominate the one that already exists and quite yer bitching. Only time you never hear complaining about Brazilians being “robbed” (which Adriano WAS NOT – although Taj’s 9.4 was a high 8 at most) IS WHEN BRAZiLiANS WIN. You know Im correct.
    P.S. I have no problems with the Brazilian Contingent – in fact I consider myself a fan of Miguel Pupo, but I can’t stand the constant crying from Brazilians regarding “foul” play. Follow Adriano’s lead, and don’t complain – Take it the Result and Move On and IMPROVE! Much more of a mature way to handle the situation. It just makes more waves…

  • Chris

    Good article, keep it up Mr. Lopez

  • Marcelo

    I am brazilian, and I would love to be the ONLY brazilian around here, it´s unbelievable how much SHIT these people from my country are capable to say… ADS is always overscored, that ugly midget… How bad it is to watch him surf?!?!
    I wish Alejo or Pupo were there…

  • david

    jordy power jordy rip. dane so good he go trip. judges are human. fools alas. ADS ugly , luck of the draw . all go surf tomorrow alone have fun and stop your moan xxxxxxxxxx

  • Dirt

    Taj v Ads coulda gone either way. At least it wasn’t a blatant rip off like the Owen v Ads heat in brasil last year. If Ads never wins another close heat in his life it still wont make up for what went down in brasil last year.

  • George

    At the ‘Rio Case’ last year, ASP was very quick in send an explanation letter to calm down their friends of the anglo surf comunity, So i guess we can expect that there will be an explanation letter about Taj’s 9.43 gift ? No precedent for that ??
    It is also very interest to analyse the judge’s paper work on that final, classic !

  • Mike London

    Lets all be honest. No one wants to watch ADS surf. To be honest, I dont even really wanna watch Taj, Joel and Mick anymore either. They are tired, and just not up to the standard of guys like Kerrzy, Jordy and even Kelly. As for the goofy footers, Ace, really? I’d rather watch paint dry. Owen maybe, but he’s over coached, tends to be boring too. There are probably 5 or 6 surfers right now on the tour that people actually want to watch. I love watching surfing, I go to 2 of the tour events every year, but gosh, its really starting to get a bit predictable.
    Please ASP, make it interesting again. Please old guys, retire. (Kelly, you can stay).

  • Cobber

    @ Mike London … Let’s be honest … speak for yourself. Taj, Owen, Joel, Mick are still along way ahead of Kerr aside from in the air (where he is unquestionably one of the best). Flat snaps, halfway carves, DO NOT compare with the speed power and flow of the afore mentioned. ‘Over-coached’ (a fallacy) is the only thing one-eyed Americans like yourself can come up with to criticise Owen who flaired despite the conditions being against him. Taj deserved the win.

  • tony (ty) carson big island

    Who really cares, what is so sad today, is how these companies like quickdollars, ripcur, hurl, ect., have taken something that was once a free and easy lifestyle, (and still is to many), and have tried to change surfing into a jock mentality business, just to stuff their own wallets.

  • the truth

    ace buchan’s surfing is so 1991… dude learn how to get above the lip already, its 2012…pathetic.

    and don’t stick up for his boring a$$. his sponsors should drop him unless he learns how to do an air, a reverse, a 360… something beyond his typical bash crap style… i can perform just as well.

  • Mike London

    I’m not American. And I’ve got two good eyes. @Cobber, calm down champ, was just saying that those guys are a bit boring to watch. They are great surfers, but dont have the same crowd pull they used to. They’re boring.

  • Dirt

    @Mike London. Parko and Taj boring? What a stupid comment. Owen overcoched? You don’t know anything about surfing!
    FYI the same old forehand 360 airs are boring to me.

  • eddie

    9.43 !!!!!!! That was joke !!!!!
    But thats ok, maybe now you guys stop crying about last year in rio.
    anyways , they make the local guy win. Good for business you know?
    Make me vomit..
    I am waiting for some american win something.
    besides Kelly (the freak) and andy irons (proud hawaiian) The americans don’t get shit, ah! Dane reynolds is great, but he is retarded…
    Brazilians and Aussies .
    Thanks god I am from South Africa.

  • Alxn Rez

    great article, Shea. It’d be really sad for Taj – and everyone else – to win this without Slater, but, someday, it will happen

  • matt

    @Eddie-yeh right you’re a Saffer, more like a Brazza in poor disguise-your crap English gives you away.

  • Mike London

    I agree with Matt. Eddie you’re about as Saffa as jou ma se poes.
    Jordy is gonna win the title this year .
    Slater will be 2nd.
    Taj 3rd.
    Thanks for listening chaps.

  • the truth

    the reality is that neither really put in a performance.

    the final was boring.

    bells will be boring…it is the worst spot on the tour.
    carvers and useless members of the tour like knox and buchan can hide their surfing on this rolling garbage wave and not look like 90’s left-overs they truly are… two geriatrics who can’t seem to get above the lip to save their lives.

    hopfeully brazil will have a spark…

  • junior

    @Marcelo: vc nao eh brasileiro porra nenhuma, vai chupa uma pica australiana seu cuzao