Billabong Pro: Aussie pride

Gary Kewley
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Friday - July 27, 2007
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Kelly Slater congratulates Billabong Pro winner Taj Burrow in South Africa July 21
Kelly Slater congratulates Billabong Pro winner Taj Burrow in South Africa July 21

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers! Heading into the last weekend of July,we see three fun south swells on the charts to keep us wet. As we ride into the final month of summer it’s hoped that August will bring at least one more advisory level swell before fall kicks in. If not, the summer of 2007 will still be remembered as decent and especially fun. There have been at least a dozen swells, some of which have been good size.

The Billabong Pro in South Africa finished up with a well-loved Aussie,Taj Burrow,winning his second event of five. This puts him in second place behind another Aussie, Mick Fanning. After these two, it’s two Americans keeping our hope alive for a world title - Hawaii’s Andy Irons (third) and Florida’s Kelly Slater (fourth). These guys are well-known to have delivered the most intense and highest competitive rivalry in surfing history. Yet, it’s Mick and Taj that many thought would’ve had a couple world titles between them by now ... and they probably would have if not for Kelly and Andy (11 combined titles).

Taj was runner up in 1999 and has had a third, a fourth, two sixths and a seventh in the final ratings. For Mick, most think his time has come in 2007. By the looks of his amazing consistency (a first, two seconds, a third and fourth) I have to agree. All he needs to do is continue this roll and he’ll win it all ... Mick can even blow it once because “one throwaway” is allowed.Andy has no more throw-aways, so the pressure is really on. Of course, Mick’s not going to let his guard down on the two freaks who were born to handle pressure.

At any rate, this year is proving to be more than exciting. Look at the top 10 and there are just three Americans. Is the tide slipping Down Under? I’ll tell you this: If Mick Fanning wins for Australia, he’ll be their No. 1 national sports hero. They’ve produced just four champs in the last 20 years: Mark Occhilupo in 1999, Damien Hardman, 1987 and 1991, and Barton Lynch, 1988. The Aussie pride is ready ... will we be?

Here are the judging criteria for all world touring pros. The ones who do the best will have to do this the best (from the ASP Handbook):

“A surfer must perform radical controlled maneuvers in the critical section of a wave with Speed, Power and Flow to maximize scoring potential. Innovative and Progressive surfing as well as Variety of Repertoire (maneuvers), will be taken into consideration when rewarding points for waves ridden. The surfer who executes these criteria with the maximum Degree of Difficulty and Commitment on the waves shall be rewarded with the higher scores.”

There you have it ... and the current top 10 after the Billabong Pro Jeffrey’s Bay:

1) Mick Fanning (AUS) 4,860 points

2) Taj Burrow (AUS) 4,286 points

3) Andy Irons (HAW) 3,921 points

4) Kelly Slater (USA) 3,840 points

5) Joel Parkinson (AUS) 3,804 points

6) Damien Hobgood (USA) 3,599 points

7) Bede Durbidge (AUS) 3,057 points

8) Daniel Wills (AUS) 2,942 points

9) Dean Morrison (AUS) 2,838 points

10) Travis Logie (ZAF) 2,810 points

The next stop is event No. 6 out of 10 ... the Boost Mobile Pro in sunny Southern California’s Trestles Beach Sept. 11-15. I’ll keep you posted here and at SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM

GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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