Shrinkage, skate tricks and a new swine flu

The Hurley Pro looms, and Taj Burrow waits in California. After a long day surfing Lowers, his phone voice is tired but, as always, he is succinct. We hit with pointed questions about shrinking boards (Mick riding Kolohe's Mayhem last year), winning moves (not varials!), and surfing's newest swine flu (the air-reverse), and Taj, an authority on progressive surfing for over a decade now, replied with articulation and thoughtfulness to boot. A snatch-and-grab phone call has never been more insightful!

Stab: Last year, the move of the event looked to be Julian's varial. What do you think it will be this year? And, by who? 
Taj: I don't think it will be just one incredible move, but a combo. An incredible combo. It'll be something ridiculous off the take-off, a whole bunch of turns in the middle and then something ridiculous to close. I'm sure that'll be the biggest highlight of the contest. I'm predicting it's going to be hard to get scores this event and that's the toughest thing to do, the big combos...

Between 2010 and 2011, boards seemed to lose an inch or an inch and a half, which revealed itself at Trestles. Do you think there is any dramatic change like that this year? Nah, I don't think so this year. Nothing I can notice.

What percentage of the surfers will be riding Mayhems this year? I reckon about 10 guys, about 30%.

Now, the air-reverse is a pervasive move. It's spread through YouTube and Vimeo and it's taking the small-wave tour spots by storm. How on earth can judges deal with this manoeuvre at Lowers? I've been thinking about this a lot, and it's not worth going for an air-reverse unless it's an absolutely mongo size. I am so sick of seeing air-reverses and I know the judges must be, too. It's the go-to move for everyone. It bores you to death. I mean, it's fun to do and it feels pretty good, and you used to swing out an air-reverse and go, "Oh yeah, that should score." It. Is. Not. Going. To. Score. Unless it's something huge. I was thinking more big carving kinda traditional turns, throwing more water, throwing the fins and only going for an air if it's going to be a really big ramp. Anyone can throw the fins into reverse. I've worked on that turn for so long and I've got it pretty down but I know everyone can do it now and it doesn't stand out. You have to really be conscious of what the judges are witnessing. You need turns to somehow separate yourself to stand out. And, the air-reverse is not it. (Laughs).

[caption id="attachment_26683" align="aligncenter" width="632" caption=""The dropped purse" – an original score by Taj Burrow and Lower Trestles. Sequence by Riley Blakeway."][/caption]