And Your New Stab In The Dark Star Is…
This 42-year-old beer enthusiast needs no introduction.
Stab In The Dark (Arts), starring Taj Burrow, is coming soon. And you’re gonna love it.
When Taj Burrow put on a Rage Against The Machine playlist and threw a short arm steamer in the back of his car on an icy October morning, we got the impression he was ready to wrap things up for Stab In The Dark 2020. Our team had been shooting on home soil for six weeks, a far cry from the usual 10-day foreign junket, and with a picture-perfect day ahead TB had a winner in his sights. We caffeinated, screamed down Caves Road, and pulled up at a local favourite ready to roll.
“You can’t get out before the end,” says Taj, as Zack de la Rocha screams ‘Bullet In The Head’ to its mighty crescendo. “It’s so fucking good!”
Armed with a 13-strong quiver of Dark Arts-infused carbon fibre blades, our test pilot had kicked every rock from Yallingup to Margaret River navigating the turning of the seasons. In the depths of the West Aussie winter, Taj sought sheltered corners to accommodate his fleet of 5’7” spaceships. But as we entered the home straight, spring went full bloom, swinging open a raft of new high-powered options to put his vacuum-packed and carbon-wrapped crafts to the sword.
Taj rode his anonymous artillery to death. At first he wasn’t impressed—the boards were “too small” for him and “too epoxy” for WA—but as we went on he learned to live with ’em, then finally learned to love ’em. After initially laughing that, “Clearly these guys don’t know I’m 42 and own a beer company,” only once in the six-week stretch did Taj end up straying back to a “conventional” PU craft, though it was anything but, when a new Webber turned up on his door and he just had to give it a crack.
Could Taj pick which board was which? Not even close. Where in the past our shapers have submitted a finished product minus any giveaway markings, in 2020 our artisans entered shaped blanks and the Dark Arts crew took care of the rest. While Taj soon figured out the foibles of each sled in the water, on the initial dry-land inspection he was absolutely clueless.
Aesthetics are huge in Taj’s world, and rail colour was as much a factor in his first evaluation as any other metric. Tail shape and rocker aside there was nothing more Teebs could do to tell each board apart than throw them under his arm and jiggle ’em a little to get a gauge on how he felt about them.
To say we got lucky with the waves would hugely understate Taj’s knowledge of his backyard. On days that could have easily been written off as too big or too small, and dealing with West Oz winds that varied from gusty to gale force to godawful, we’d load up Taj’s late-model VX Landcruiser, bounce down a maze of dirt tracks, and end up at a workable wedge miles from the Job Keeper hordes. Taj flat out refused to surf on weekends—“it does my head in”—and to this day his work hard, play hard ethos is still well and truly in place.
With our finalists put through their paces, we lined four boards up in a vineyard and popped bottles on the winners. We celebrated with a winery lunch (scallops, salmon, crab linguine the pick of the menu) that led to sunset drinks, which melted into poker, Don Julio Blanco, and trouble. For our film crew, this meant a taxi to town, while the talent retired to his quarters for a well-earned lazy weekend with his family.
Job done, stay tuned to enjoy the Taj Burrow show.
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