Taj Burrow is out of the Pipe Masters
A couple of months back, Stab whipped Taj Burrow and Mark Mathews into a bubble bath at WA’s The Right. The aim? To capture the greatest surf photo ever seen. The result? Perhaps not the best, but certainly some of surfing’s best imagery, plus the longest hold down of Mark’s life, and as we now learn, prolonged shoulder feels for Taj.
In 2014, for the first time in his 17-year World Tour career, Taj will not finish his competitive year in Hawaii. Instead, he’s opting for shoulder surgery. “I’m out of the Pipe Masters,” Taj told Stab. “Yep, that part’s official. In 17 years on the CT, this is the second event I’ve missed. The other one was Brazil, when I broke my foot. I didn’t want to taint such a clean record, only one event in 17 years is pretty impressive (laughs).”
A past Pipe Master himself, Taj is always straight danger in Hawaii and while his absence from the rock is a bummer for fans (us included), it’s a necessary requirement: “The injury I have right now is the laboural bicep tendon or something… it’s been torn from the bone in my right shoulder. It’s still bearable to do stuff, but it’s just been bugging me and I’m really sluggish when I’m paddling. I’ve been getting annoyed with it and thought this was the best time to get it fixed, I really wanna get it over and done with while I’ve got some downtime.”
If he’d waited till after the Pipe Masters, three months recovery time would mean he would unlikely be surf-fit or even surfing at all. “I always like starting the year well and would prefer to be healthy for that.” Yes, clearly – in the last six Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast events, Taj’s worst has been a fifth: he’s had two thirds, a runner-up finish, and won twice.
But, what about placings and those valuable final-placing bonuses? Uh, Taj isn’t too worried. This will only be the fourth time in 17 years on tour that Taj has finished outside the top six. Wrap your head around that. That’s one of the greatest surfing careers of all time. So, his nonchalance is not only cool as shit, but also well-founded: “I’m currently placed ninth in the world,” he tells Stab. “But I don’t really care where I finish, it doesn’t matter so much. It’d be nice to stay in the top 10, but it’s not a huge deal. I’m more concerned about fixing myself up and staying in good shape. For me to slip out of the top 10, I think Kolohe Andino, Josh Kerr and Owen Wright all have to make the final. Which won’t happen, because it’s only man on man. So I’m pretty sure I’ll stay in the top 10. No biggie.”
Blasé boys club aside, Taj will also face a change at the start of next year when he loses his full time trainer, Johnny Gannon, to fatherhood. But rather than try to place the irreplaceable, Taj will take it into his own hands and do what Johnny taught him: “I think I’m just going to try and apply everything he taught me and do it myself, which is a lot easier said than done. I think Johnny will probably be at home on lockdown by that stage, so I’ll just train as much as I can on my own, and try and find some others at home who are motivated to get into it. But I kinda know the routine that we’ve done over the last few years that’s got me ready for Snapper. So I’m just going to try my best to do what he’s done the last few years.”
Expect to see Taj, sans trainer and shoulder problems, ruining dreams at Snapper next year. And killing it in WA beforehand too, no doubt.