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Close READER POLL 2017
We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

A Letter From Taj Burrow

Where do I start? Well, it’s been exactly two years since I retired.

When I retired my goal was first, enjoying the freedom from the same schedule that’s taken up my life over the past two decades. And to use that freedom to find some good surf, chase down swells and be in the right place at the right time for some good sessions. That, and being a dad.

While on the tour you definitely get good waves, and I was fortunate enough to find windows of surf back at home in Yallingup, which was awesome. But, I hadn’t really had the opportunity to take part in the chase. Since leaving, I’ve been able to spend time with my family, spend more time in the Southwest of Oz, do some trips and have some amazing sessions. 

Recently, I went to the Mentawais, which is where the "Cult of Freedom" clip was filmed. I was at my house, and there was a big swell coming. So, I started looking at all my options. There was a chance that The Right was gonna be good; there was a chance North Point and Gnaraloo were going to be good, and, of course, Indo was going to be good. I knew I wanted to go the Mentawais but, usually when you’re there you’re on a boat trip, and boat trips you have to book way in advance. So, to be honest, I threw out the feelers on Instagram. I just DM’d a bunch of landcamps that I knew of and asked if anyone had any openings.

I really wanted to be there for the swell. 

Fortunately, I got a few replies, and a couple people said, “Yeah, we got room, you’re on.” The first person who said they had space was the guy who runs the HTS resort. At the same time a boat charter company messaged me and said they had room on their boat. It ended up syncing up perfectly, I went to the HTS resort for the peak of the swell and directly after, the boat picked me up from HTS and I spent the next seven days on a boat charter.  

It was a dream trip. 

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"When we got on the boat, we were greeted by 12 Brazilian MMA Black Belt Jiu Jitsu fucking weapons!"

I landed on my feet. I was so spoiled. The four days at HTS was insane. It was the most fun eight-foot rolls ins. I’d always heard about it doubling up and rolling in but never got it. It was good to experience that. Once I got that session under my belt it felt like it all paid off. I’ve always wanted to be in the Mentawais for a huge swell and surf macking HTS doing its thing. I felt so fortunate. 

The boat came into HTS and picked me and my mate, Dave Fox up. When we got on the boat we were greeted by 12 Brazilian MMA Black Belt Jiu Jitsu fucking weapons! Just the biggest gnarliest dudes with Cauliflower ears and everything. When I got on the boat they just screamed my name in their Brazilian accents, “Taji Burrow!” Dave and I were thinking, Oh my god, what did we just get ourselves into! This is terrifying. I got on board and they high-fived me and hugged me. They were so excited to have a professional surfer on board. They ended up being the absolute biggest legends! Such good blokes. They were a little bit older than me and were at that level of surfing where they were happy to watch me surf and it helped them push their surfing. 

We ended up having the best time ever. We scored really good Macaronis and it was a blessing in disguise because they were such intimidating dudes that all the other boats were kind of avoiding us. It was perfect. I did seven days on the boat with them.  

Now, I’m sitting here putting my knee up. I tore my ACL doing a walk in the park floater. It’s looking pretty big, as I’m just five days out of surgery. I did it while on a family holiday in Gnaraloo, which, other than the knee injury, was the best family holiday I’ve ever been on. 

We went up there with a bunch of friends and family. We just camped, fished, surfed, and lived like a grub in the desert for a couple weeks. That’s just the best way to live in my opinion. It was cool to take our two-year-old up there, you’re completely off the grid there, there’s no phones or internet or power. 

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"I was like, yeah, I’m jumping in. I’m gonna surf with these groms. It was two or three foot and really playful. Of course, you always get hurt when it’s small.

It inspired me to do it more often and cut back on a few modern conveniences here at home. We caught yellow fin tuna, diced it up, ate sashimi right away, got sick waves, it was just proper living. Towards the end of the trip I went to go surf the Bluff and enjoy the sunset. There’s all these local groms there that are so cool. They’re such little frothers. I was excited to go surf. I was like, yeah, I’m jumping in, I’m gonna surf with these groms. It was two or three foot and really playful. Of course, you always get hurt when it’s small. 

I did a floater, and when I was coming down, I went one way and my board went the other. It felt like a lightning bolt hit my leg. It was so painful. I fell off and was laying in the water, my body was in shock. I was thinking, what the fuck did I just do to my knee? Is it my MCL, ACL, PCL? How long am I going to be out of the water?   

Eventually, I drifted in and crawled up the reef and my leg wasn’t really working. I had to make the walk back up the point. 

I did the whole ice process and kept it elevated. Over the next few days, it started to feel really good. We packed up camp and drove home. I went and got an MRI and that revealed I busted my ACL. It’s the ligament right in the centre of your knee. Which unfortunately isn’t really one that you stretch or partially tear. If you do it, it’s a complete tear and that’s what happened. I went and saw the surgeon straight after the MRI and he told me that it’ll be a 6-9 month recovery process. After hearing that, it was like everything went silent. That’s a painful thing to hear. I went into surgery a few days later and now I’m doing everything I can to heal it correctly. 

I actually feel quite at peace with it.  

I’m not frantic or stressed about like I would have been years ago. I wanna make good use of my time and do some things that I normally wouldn’t do and take care of a few things I’ve been putting off. 

It’s all good. 

So, I guess I’m the guest editor for Stab over the next two weeks. Where I’ll be giving my take on my life at the moment, as well as everything I’ve experienced on and off tour.

Cheers, 

Taj 

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