The Boost Mobile Pro Presented By Quiksilver
Richie Lovett outduels Taj Burrow in all-Australian battle at Lower Trestles.
Richie Lovett, the 30-year-old Aussie WCT veteran, had not progressed past round three on the circuit all year, but on September 8 at three-foot Lowers, he began in the quarterfinals with Dean Morrison, moved past Joel Parkinson in the semis, and defeated Taj Burrow in the final to win 30,000 dollars at the Boost Mobile Pro presented by Quiksilver.
Each summer the Southern California coastline is bombarded with dozens of surf contests that range from six-man amateur heats at Steamer Lane to the man-on-man format of the X-Games and the U.S. Open at the Huntington Beach pier. These contests bring thousands of fans and thousands of dollars into the world of professional surfing, and touring pros from around the world can become household names while battling in blown out, head-high slop. The only exception to this is the 250,000-dollar Boost Mobile Pro presented by Quiksilver.
The Boost Mobile is different for many reasons. It's the only American event on the twelve-stop World Championship Tour that decides the world champion each year. This year's tour is being referred to as the “dream tour” because of the perfect locations around the world and the long windows of opportunity to run the events. The combination of these factors make for the best surf contests with the best waves at the best time of the year.
The Boost Mobile Pro is the seventh of twelve stops and the exact halfway point in the year. Going into the event, current World Champion Andy Irons had a significant lead (660 points) over second-place Kelly Slater. Kelly's comeback campaign is officially underway, and for the first time in years there's a race worth watching. Aside from an early showing by Taylor Knox on the first two days, who put on a display of frontside carves and rebounds that defy gravity, the first real sign of competitive drama came when the brothers' Irons were pitted against each other, man-on-man in the third round.
Being world champion means you have everything to lose. Andy has already won three events this year, and if Slater weren't in the game, he would most likely have no pressure to follow up his title, but Slater is not a man to be underestimated. Kelly watched from the beach as Bruce did the impossible and took down his older brother, leaving Andy with an equal seventeenth place and a huge opportunity for Slater to take the lead. As Andy changed into his street clothes, the hordes on the beach that came down to watch Slater's heat all began calculating the possible scenarios that could put Slater back on top of the ratings board. Kelly would basically need to win the event or get second to gain enough points to pass Andy.
Now the pressure was on Slater. He quickly disposed of Brazilian Neco Padaratz in round four and looked poised to make a run for the final. The last big obstacle would be his quarterfinal heat against Californian all-star and early standout Taylor Knox. The two regular-footers went head to head on the mushy rights, matching frontside carves with power and style. With only a minute and half remaining in the heat Taylor caught a head-high right and put together a combination of carves that gave him the lead and left Kelly sitting out the back without a final wave as the last seconds of the quarterfinal ticked away. Suddenly, all the scenarios of Slater's return to the top of the ratings were over. “My head wasn't really in that heat until halfway through,” reasoned Slater. “Taylor was really focused, and I felt like the momentum was in his favor. I surfed all right on the waves I got, but they weren't very good ones. I gained some points on Andy, though, so it's close (laughs).” Now there's only Europe and Hawai'i left to decide which of these champions will add another title to their list of victories.
In the other quarterfinals, Bruce Irons lost to Victor Ribas, Taj Burrow defeated Mick Fanning, and dark-horse Richie Lovett beat Joel Parkinson. “Surfing this contest was fun, and I'm stoked to get as far as I did,” said Irons. “It's good practice for what you have to do on the WCT, as it's a lot harder. The waves are better, so you have to surf a lot cleaner. Hopefully I won't be a wildcard but actually on the 'CT next year.”
In the semifinals, Burrow was paired against Victor Ribas, and Lovett once again drew a tough heat going up against the early Taylor Knox–who after beating Slater was now the crowd's favorite to take it all the way. Burrow quickly disposed of Ribas, securing his spot in the final, while Lovett and Knox went blow for blow in an amazing display that was described as the best heat of the event. Lovett dominated the lineup and caught every good wave that came through on his way to the final. “I wish we would have a couple more waves to surf on,” said Knox.
The all-Australian final drew out the best in the competitors area, and when the Foster's oil cans came out, it became clear that this was a party no matter who was winning. Burrow surfed with the freakish speed and coordination that we have all watched in videos for years, and he drew out more hoots from the beach than anyone had all week. But the man to watch was without a doubt Richie Lovett. Richie caught bigger waves and matched Burrows' amazing speed and style on the way to his first-ever win. As the final seconds ticked away, the Aussie crew grabbed big beers and ran down the beach to greet Lovett for a beer bath. “It's a dream come true,” began Lovett, after being carried from the water's edge to the winner's podium by cheering Aussie compatriots. “I love Trestles, and it's one of my favorite waves. All the boys are here–I'm absolutely over the moon. It's the first time I've made a (WCT) final, and I've been trying for eight years now. My family never gave up on me, my friends never gave up on me. This is just a dream day for me.”–Matt Patterson
Ratings After Boost Mobile Pro Presented By Quiksilver:
1. Andy Irons5,760 points
2. Kelly Slater5,352
3. Taj Burrow5,112
4. Joel Parkinson5,088
5. Mick Fanning5,052
6. Kieren Perrow4,704
7. Dean Morrison4,452
8. C.J. Hobgood4,428
9. Cory Lopez4,224
10. Taylor Knox4,200
Timmy Curran wins the richest expression session in history.
The “airshow” phenomenon was designed to showcase progressive surfing above the lip, and stand-alone airshow contests have had mixed success. However, this year at Trestles it was proven that with the right talent (namely the Top 44) airshows can be nothing short of incredible. Timmy Curran, Joel Parkinson, Taj Burrow, Bruce Irons, and Dane Reynolds gave the crowd a treat with 45 minutes of hucks and punts that most of us only see in videos. Curran took full advantage of the ledging inside lefts to win the 20,000 dollars. Later that night, he donated half his winnings to the Jason Bogle Cancer Fund. Good on ya', Timmy.–M.P.