Pulling Back At Gnaraloo, Drunken Car Crashes And Expensive Motorised Surfboards
The tales behind the biggest regrets in Taj Burrow’s life.
We all have regrets: impulsive purchases, one night stands and vodka-fuelled rendezvous’ are amongst the top contenders. But the stories of some individuals are a little more exciting to read about than others.
Taj Burrow is one of those people; 40 spins around the sun, 18 of which spent on the World Tour in its partying prime will do that to you.
None of these stories reveal any unhead tour happenings, but they do range from treetop car crashes, to exorbitant jet-boards, to pulling back on bombs at Gnaraloo.
Anyway, here’s Taj’s biggest life regrets – unadorned and without revision.
The Gnaraloo pullback
It was a psycho day at Gnaraloo, also called Tombstones – up in the north of WA.
I hadn’t surfed Tombies for a while and I wasn’t really in the right spot for this one that came through but Kerby Brown and Jake Perkins looked at me like, “you going?” and I was like “yep!”
It was the biggest wave that come through all day; 10-foot and the most psycho wave I’ve seen out there.
I started paddling, I wasn’t quite under it enough, and it was so steep and evil, I was just like ‘nup, I’m not getting this’ and it was fucking horrible.
Seeing the look on Kerby’s face is still so clear in my memory, it still stings; there was pretty much silence amongst the pack afterwards too and it dropped me. I remember a couple of people paddling back out saying ‘you definitely wouldn’t have made that’, but I know they were just trying to make me feel better.
It was one of those moments you’ll probably never get again, now I just wish I threw myself over the falls, so I wouldn’t have to suffer that feeling of regret of not going. I hate that feeling of letting a wave go, especially on a wave that insane – I won’t have the opportunity to try again.
That heat in New York
That heat against Kelly was one of the better heats I’d had. I had a couple of nines against him and was holding priority at the time too.
He pretty much needed a 10 to win the heat and this closeout righthand wedge came through. It was one of those waves that you wouldn’t really go yourself, it didn’t look great, so I kind of had to let him have it to keep priority. Of course, he did that crazy air reverse that everyone remembers and got the score.
It’s not as if I did anything strategically wrong either, it’s just that Kelly did a phenomenal air on a wave that I let him have.
That one definitely stings.
The drunken crash
This one was heavy.
Looking back, it’s embarrassing to talk about considering how stupid it was, but anyway, here it goes.
I was 19, had a V8, six-speed manual Holden Commodore that just roared and I loved it.
There was a friend’s birthday party happening one night, just over a kilometre from where I live and I naively thought I’d just drive over ‘for a few drinks’. As typically happens, one thing led to another, a couple drinks led to 10 and I ended up getting completely shitfaced
People say this all the time, but it’s probably the drunkest I’ve ever been in my life.
I wasn’t thinking straight I was so pissed; I got in my car and went to drive home.
Essentially, I just wanted to see how fast I could go on that short drive back to my place. It’s only like a kilometre away but there’s trees everywhere, bends in the road and ditches on the side of the road too.
I came hooking into the straight on Yallingup, pushed my foot to the floor on the accelerator and then hit this super hard left turn that leads up the hill to my joint.
I missed the turn and just went straight instead. Straight up a hill, through these trees and all I can remember is hearing the sound of leaves and branches scraping against the car as I flew off the road in the trees.
I was pumping the brakes, accelerating and nothing was happening and then I was so torched I tried putting it into reverse and revving it as hard as I could. The wheels were spinning, but I wasn’t going anywhere and it turns out that was because I’d somehow driven the car five or six feet up into a tree. The wheels weren’t touching anything.
The car was so jammed too that I couldn’t open any of the doors and had to wind down a window to jump out into the tree and then jump like five foot down onto the ground from there
It was about 11 at night too and the crash woke up one of the neighbours; they came running out after me asking if everything was okay and all I replied with was, “Yeah sweeeettt!” while throwing them a shaka.
The next thing I remember is waking up, on my floor, curled up in a travel bag next to my empty bed. There was nothing wrong with the bed either, just one of those weird places you sleep when drunk.
I woke up at 5am in shock, knowing something really bad happened last night and was trying to jog my memory of what just went down. Then it hit me and I froze solid.
The Commodore in question. Not after the crash, but after someone stole Taj’s rims at Indigo Blue on the Gold Coast.
“Did that really happen last night?” I thought to myself.
I got up, bolted down the street and could see my car perched up, high and dry, in the trees. No one had noticed yet and because it was dark and I was still drunk I was unsure of what I was seeing was even real.
I called one of my best mates, Kevin ‘Twiggy’ Sharland and was freaking out.
“I need your help” was pretty much all I said.
We towed it out of the trees because it was the only way to get it down. Every panel was completely bent out of shape, the windows were smashed and we took it straight to a panel beater. The panel beater said I shouldn’t even have bothered fixing it, but I was so scared my parents would find out, so I paid the dude in cash and said, “just fix it for me, just fix it.”
I ended up telling my parents i swerved off the road to dodge a kangaroo – which is pretty believable in Yallingup – and they bought it. This is the first time I’ve ever really revealed the truth too, so the story’s out there now.
I was a complete fucking idiot and I’ve never done anything near this stupid again.
It woke me up.
The ‘jet-surf board’ incident
This one needs a bit of a backstory.
At 62, my dad wasn’t getting many waves at home and decided it would be a good idea to get into skateboarding. He bought a ‘carve’ skateboard online and started bombing all sorts of hills around home. And as always happens with bombing hills on skateboards, he ended up absolutely fucking murdering himself.
You know, the usual deal: the biggest hill in town, speed wobbles, losing all sorts of skin, broke his arm and broke two ribs as well. Fucking hammered pretty much.
He had a bit of an interest in buying these ‘toy’ sort of things and next he wanted a ‘Netsurf’ – which is pretty much a motorized surfboard.
Essentially he was pissed with all the stand up paddleboarders at Main Break in Yallingup and and wanted to get one back with one of these, run a few laps around them – so I bought it for him.
It cost about 15 grand to buy, it was a joke. It was super bulky too having to fit handles, an engine and an intake all within a small surfboard shape.
That’s not where the cost ended though, it broke down every second week and cost around $5k every time it needed fixing. We’d have to ship it over to the East Coast of Aus for repairs and it would just come back with a massive bill every time; we probably ended up fixing it about 10 times in total.
I always thought I’d have a hell time on it one day, you know, backdoor a couple of pits or something, but I pretty much never went near the thing.
I rode it in the flats a few times and thought it was ridiculous, but he still loved it.
Probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever spent money on in my life.
Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners
Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence
Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth
A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.
Carissa Moore And Finn McGill Are Your 2023 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Champions
They both pocket $50k and tickets to this year’s Vans Pipe Masters.
The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5
Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.
Goofyfoot Brazilian World Champion Stars In Stab’s Biggest Board-Testing Franchise
Can you guess who?
Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson
Because it's the right thing to do, of course.
Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content.
A toast to ‘Toasted.’
Stab Surfer of the Year: Creed McTaggart, Albee Layer, Laura Enever, Dane Guduaskas, and Selema Masekela
Day 8: "65 years young and charging just as hard as ever at Pipe, Backdoor,…
“I’m Not A Big Wave Guy”
How Kai Paula accidentally made his mark at Jaws three weeks after surfing it for…
A toes in the sand, phone in the lagoon account of the 10th Eddie Aikau…
Breaking: Another CT Rookie Injured Before First Event
Sophie McCulloch pulls out of Pipeline due to Snapper Rocks snafu.
Watch: ‘Toasted,’ By Caity Simmers
Your favorite surfer directs, edits, and stars in her first feature film.
On-Duty North Shore Lifeguard Luke Shepardson Wins The Eddie Aikau
Local man prevails over 39 big-wave heavyweights at 29ft @ 19 seconds Waimea.
The Eddie Aikau Invitational Is On
Grab a beverage and enjoy surfing's Super Bowl Sunday
The Women’s CT Is About To See A Generational Shift
Only three women have won a Title in the past 15 years. Here's why that's…
“One For Marcio” – Albee Layer’s Tribute To Mad Dog
Imagine treating 30ft Jaws like Backdoor.
Stab Surfer of the Year: Noa Deane, Jamie O’Brien, Parker Coffin, Cliff Kapono, and Brendan Buckley
Day 7: "It's like he feels more comfortable when it’s as gnarly as it gets."…