After what might’ve been the flattest waiting period Haleiwa has ever seen, Taj Burrow won the Reef Hawaiian Pro.
When I first tuned into the webcast four days ago, I scoffed. I rarely scoff. But it was ridiculous. It was beautiful, for a lake. A light breeze ruffled the competitor’s dry hair while they bobbed gently like corks in a bucket. The horizon lay on the top of the screen, ruler straight. Dave Stanfield, ever upbeat, clamored on about the conditions and how they really weren’t all that bad.
“Better to cancel the event,” I thought. Scoff.
“This just ruins how I think of Hawaii,” I said. Scoff.
“Who’s decision was this?” I questioned. Scoff.
But damned if I wasn’t surprised. The waves turned on a little bit, and the competitors turned on a lot. While it never turned into those classic Haliewa conditions, it did turn into something that was worth watching. With only three days left in the waiting period, the decision was made to run the event. There was, after all, no other choice. They had waited as long as they could, so shortened heats were to run all the way through until a winner was crowned. There were a few notable things from this year’s event: The Clash of the Legends, which saw Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Ross Williams, Kalani Robb, and Rob’s hair all competing against each other for a $20,000 prize purse. There was also the inclusion of Carissa Moore into a men’s event, which doesn’t really seem to be getting the attention it deserves. Moore was granted wildcards into the Haleiwa stop and the Sunset stop after sponsorships dropped off for women’s events. Vans then offered to put on a series for a select group of women, which although unrated, would’ve been paid. The women’s tour went against it, wanting the events to be rated. Moore placed fourth in her heat, but it’s still a big step for women’s surfing.
The waves in the final were spectacularly average. Taj Burrow, Adam Melling, Nat Young, and Adriano De Souza tracked down what were mostly wind-blown, section-filled lefts while the occasional right filtered through. True to form, Taj managed to turn it into something that looked downright good. He managed to sneak on to a rare right-hander to score a 9.37 to win the event.
Things are looking better for the Sunset event. Thank God.