Article

Taj Burrow Wins at The Lane

Defeats Wilko in the Final at the 2012 Coldwater Classic

| posted on November 06, 2012

2012 Coldwater Classic champ Taj Burrow hoists his Jack O'Neill trophy. Photo: Ellis

On Election Day, the town of Santa Cruz woke up early, called in sick, hit the polls, then lined the cliffs for Finals day at the 2012 Coldwater Classic. For the first time since 1990, the World Tour stopped in Santa Cruz, and the town rose to the occasion. What a host Steamer Lane has been.

Taj Burrow and Matt Wilkinson met in the Final. From the start, Burrow didn’t lose a single heat, mowing down his competitors with trademark consistency and a lethal approach to the sets wrapping off the point. In every heat of the event, Burrow’s opening wave scored a 6.8 or higher.

Wilko was Burrow’s first victim in Round 1, but he recovered to put together an inspired run that began with his upset of John Florence in Round 2. At that point you could tell that Wilko’s surfing was perfectly suited to The Lane. His backhand attack and patience earned him scores in the excellent range, and in his first Tour Final, it was almost enough to upset Taj. In characteristic fashion, Burrow opened the Final with a 7.17 and soon added a backup 4.9. Halfway through the heat, Wilko answered back with a 7.2 to add to his 4.5. As he climbed the cliff and ran around to the point, the tide seemed destined to swing in his direction. With a minute left, Wilko sat out back with priority, needing a 5.9 for the win.

It was as if the people of Santa Cruz willed that set wave that wrapped around the point into existence as it stacked up for Wilko. He dropped in and linked two successive hacks, sticking to the formula that had got him this far, but on his finishing maneuver the lip pitched over his in-pocket turn, bucking him from his board and into the whitewash.

Burrow sat alone out back, head in his hands, awaiting the judges score. When they announced it as a 5.5, he lifted his hands and head to the sky, a rightful claim for his 2012 Coldwater Classic win. They chaired him to the point and covered him in champagne, as half of the crowd cheered and the other half paddled back out to their homebreak at The Lane.

Final
Taj Burrow def. Matt Wilkinson

Semifinal
Taj Burrow def. Travis Logie
Matt Wilkinson def. Michel Bourez

Quarterfinals
Taj Burrow def. Gabriel Medina
Travis Logie def. Joel Parkinson
Michel Bourez def. Jeremy Flores
Matt Wilkinson def. Adriano de Souza

  • Ben

    Yawn… the fat wave tour. Get rid of Bells and Steamers and bring on G-land and J-Bay!

  • Jeff

    agreed, not that great of a wave to watch surfed. The SFO venue was actually better in my opinion and NYC was very cool too.

  • jeff bason

    is it me…or did they get it wrong again….wilko’s second wave was better than Taj’s second wave…especially the second turn……and I agree….fat soft waves like the lane and bells should go

  • Rob

    Agree that J-bay needs badly to come back. But I also think it is important that tricky waves are on the tour too. Maybe Steamers could go back to prime level.

  • Marcelo

    Nice!! Go Taj, He deserves as many wins as possible, what a great guy and surfer. And I am glad to finally see Wilco get what he deserves, making finals!

  • TB Kid.

    when things stop counting, you bet you can count on Taj

  • Ciaran

    Must say that Brad Gerlach’s commentary was excellent, would love to hear him more often!

  • http://none Steve Briggs

    As for the web commentators the top of the bar is held by Ronnie Blakey then Kelly Slater. Nobody does a better job. Joe Turpel fills his role but his AM disc jockey delivery takes us back to the Jeff Spicoli days. He furthers the stereotype that surfers are stoned dumbshits. As for Brad Gerlach his left, right shoulder, body dynamics lessons were fine a few times but he kept driving that observation into the ground. He also was overly biased and wrong on many calls related to judging. That is an area where he is out of his element. At the end of the day the judges make the calls not a web commentator. Gerlach also seemed lost and dumbfounded at times as he admitted when the producer spoke to him thru his headset. As Shaun Tomson correctly put it we need Pros not Bros in the web booth otherwise we are doomed to look and sound like Spicoli.

  • joe

    way better wave options for WCT venues in Santa Cruz! just have a mobile event in SC. theres a plethora of buttery’ smooth WCT quality waves. the Lane is a mogul field!!

  • danny

    I really don’t get why a lot of people wanna see perfect barrels all the time. Its great tricky waves. See the top guys loosing in the early rounds was pretty fun and refreshing. At the end the champion has to prove he’s good at any condition

  • Rob

    Steve Briggs is so right. I have to do this ofr people to understand…
    9Brad Ger is a pain in the ass big time.)

    “As for the web commentators the top of the bar is held by Ronnie Blakey then Kelly Slater. Nobody does a better job. Joe Turpel fills his role but his AM disc jockey delivery takes us back to the Jeff Spicoli days. He furthers the stereotype that surfers are stoned dumbshits. As for Brad Gerlach his left, right shoulder, body dynamics lessons were fine a few times but he kept driving that observation into the ground. He also was overly biased and wrong on many calls related to judging. That is an area where he is out of his element. At the end of the day the judges make the calls not a web commentator. Gerlach also seemed lost and dumbfounded at times as he admitted when the producer spoke to him thru his headset. As Shaun Tomson correctly put it we need Pros not Bros in the web booth otherwise we are doomed to look and sound like Spicoli.”

  • Rob

    As long as surfers are running contests and webcasts, the sport is destined to remain a distant third to other action sports. Painful to watch a surf contest on a computer when skateboarding and snowboarding events get televised with excellent production, sponsors, and commentators. Webcast for surf contest are boring because there is so much downtime (90% is waiting or paddling and some lifestyle B.S.) Cut all that and highlite the surfing into a 30 minute televised broadcast and I think the sport would garner more sponsors and a broader audience.

  • Rob

    Ok I over-spoke a little, Brad Gerlach is not that bad, the major problem was too much of “zap”, “zip”, “Zein”, shoulder here, shoulder there… And Disagreeing way too much from the other guys, especially Ronnie. But in the end he is a nice and smart guy indeed. Cheers

  • Ciaran

    Yeah Steve and Rob I take your point, but I thought that Brad’s technical critique was very insightful! Yes there is a lot of downtime in watching surfing online, but if you have good commentary you can still hear a lot of interesting information which makes it all worthwhile. I must admit that I have seen some former Pro commentators make terrible commentators. I remember one heat that Occy was calling in particular, talking about a surfer for about five minutes before he was reminded that that surfer wasn’t even in the water. Everyone loves Occy, but not as a commentator….

  • mateo

    I just think Gerlach needs to re-balance the commentary toward assessing the quality of a ride rather than critiquing how a surfer’s form deviated from perfection. I don’t think that is a minor distinction… He comes across as wanting to show off that he is a connoisseur of style/form. Of course he knows good surfing, but I bet he could also give us more of the big picture on pro surfing’s evolution, history, and behind the scenes. I like Pottz, Gerr, Occy, and Barton Lynch as commentators when they are combined with good, polished announcer types.

    Also, I really like the combination of live coverage and heats on demand including all waves etc. marked and selectable, combined with edited highlights reel. I see how it could be packaged more tightly for television, but I would be really bummed to lose what we have on offer now. That said, CWC heats on demand was sloppier and didn’t function as well as some of the other events.

  • David

    The downtime and the commentators’ jibber is what makes a good event. I don’t want to see the whole thing become to polished, produced & cheesy. Frothing-shirtless Dave Wassel, rambling Occy, Jake Patterson’s betting is the unproffesional shit that keeps things entertaining waiting on sets. Laughed at the conflict between Todd Kline and Todd Richards in New York, thought Brad ‘ZAPPPP’ Gerlach was going to punch Ronnie Blakey at Santa Cruz, shit’s funny. Gerlach was alright in the end when he took himself less seriously. Webcast format is the way, when it’s on it’s on, easy viewing, perfect for killing time in the work place.

  • http://none Steve Briggs

    Do we even get into the “noises” Gerlach used as turns were performed or executed? Ronnie Blakey adds info, knowledge, stats, background, opinion where it adds to the moment. He is far and away the class of the field. I had to wonder if Gerlach had watched too many Batman cartoons with his “zzzzzzaap”, “pow”, “zzzzzziiing”, or whatever came out of his mouth. I don’t think that helped raise the bar. It sounded funny the first few times then became annoying. Gerlach is a “character” and he relishes the opportunity to reinforce his on the edge persona. What about Schimooka or Schmoo? He is also another in depth discussion. Did anyone notice his bizarre way of pronouncing certain words or overly reacting to airs or big turns? I am sure he is told to hype things up but his approach to that was overly done.

  • Scooby

    Gerr is about controversy, but I think in this case it could have been more about professional self promotion. The Gerr’s third act is as personal coach. Many know he is the coach to phenom, Conner Coffin. I interpreted his act as Gerr displaying his expertise in analysis. I saw a handful of competitors that could really benefit from his expertise (Heitor Alves would jump 5 places, maybe ten, with Gerr in his ear). I loved him putting Blakey in his place. Brad is a legendary surfer that did the tour for years and made it to #2 on the WT. That trumps a blabber mouthed juorno any day.

  • gannysesh

    I thought Slater and Gerlach had a good commentary dynamic going. Overall, I liked Gerr’s commentary, but he tended to argue – in a rambling, slow way – a little too much. For instance, after Wilko’s final score came in, he was still complaining about a previous ride. At that point it’s like, “hey, maybe you can comment on Taj being currently being congratulated by Wilko. pay attention please!”

    Rob says, “As long as surfers are running contests and webcasts, the sport is destined to remain a distant third to other action sports.” FINE BY ME! Who cares. It’s still really fun to watch. Your solution to this appears to be, “don’t run a webcast; but instead just show a recap.” Ok.

  • John McCoullan

    Seeing the pros struggle out at the Lane was great for the sport. It’s a very tricky wave, and many guys who are supposed to be able to adjust to anything couldn’t adjust to the nuances of the Lane. This proves the ability of all the local shredders like Nat Young, Ratboy, Randy Bonds, Tyler Smith, Josh Loya, Ruffo, etc. in navigating such a tough wave.

    As far as the webcast is concerned, there seemed to be quite a bit of disagreement between the ex-pro surfer webcaster and whoever they were partnered up with. These disagreements seemed to be initiated by the ex-pro surfer, who is relying on their old mental models that they are the expert in any surfing-related situation. While they are obviously incredible surfers with a ton of experience, in the role of commentator, they need to set back, check their egos at the door, and de-personalize the situation to allow multiple viewpoints to arise for the viewer’s benefit. In my observations, these disagreements arose when the ex-pro surfer would add input based on their own experiences and beliefs, but not being open to seeing the situation from any other view. If the other commentator challenged this viewpoint, the ex-pro surfer would become defensive, digging themselves into a bigger ditch instead of working with the situation at hand. Many of the rants and raves had nothing to do with what was unfolding in the water, I can’t pretend to know how difficult it must be to commentate, but I would like to see more collaboration between the commentators and less ego-fueled disagreements among them.

    Furthermore, when the commentators try to call scores and they are off, it really discredits the judges and the ASP system as a whole.

    Thank you for reading one person’s perspective.

  • Alex

    that wave seemed to really favor the goofy footers, they seemed to get tighter in the pocket or something?
    http://www.surf-station.com/

  • Luciano

    Wow, Brad Gerlach is a great comentator, the way he explained what a good turn is and what a not-so-good turn is was just fucking great. The shoulder thing was great too. GREAT COMMENTS, GERRR!!

  • Luciano

    It’s a dream to have these guys (Barton Lynch, Brad Gerlach, Martin Potter) doing commentary on the webcast. It is really great. I wish they could bring Curren and Gary Elkerton to do that. Tom Carroll would be fantastic. John Shimooka is good too, he is funny so it keeps a good energy level. Thanks for whoever is calling those guys to participate, it really works!!

  • Mike

    Normally I find the Gerr to be interesting but as a commentator at The Lane he was obnoxious. He sounded like the guy who disagreed just to have his voice out there. He clearly was selling himself as a first priority. Is he still sponsored by O’Neill? I can’t think of any other reason he got put in the booth. Have to agree that Slater and Wassell add a lot in the booth. Slater is articulate, and has the inside info. His comments on the Big Day at the Volcom Figi this year were excellent. Lose the Gerr next time.

  • Delbaz

    Sorry to be late to the party, but Gerlach was just awful as a commentator. Lacked any sort of basic professionalism, was constantly interrupting his fellow commentators, offered bizarre, marginally relevant comments, constantly criticized the production, and just made everything feel incredibly awkward. I’ve literally never heard a broadcaster in any sport or activity criticize camera angles or complain about a delay in viewing replays. Just bad judgment and a lack of tact. And who as a viewer wants to hear a commentator complain?