Taj Burrow‘s recent retirement announcement has us looking back at his career and major contributions to the industry
It was the WSL’s last Australian stop and Taj Burrow‘s hometown environment of Western Aus. Burrow admitted he had been stressing about the announcement he would make at the Margaret River event–the announcement that many say will end an era.
Burrow opened up on some of the recent life events posing distractions to his career, leading up to the announcement.
In October last year, Burrow and his girlfriend welcomed their baby daughter.
“I felt like I had too much going on. With the birth of my baby there’s been a lot of sleepless nights and I don’t have [former trainer] Johnny Gannon in my corner cracking the whip and I just haven’t been able to keep up,” he said. “Everything’s been going too fast and I’ve been going into events not prepared. It’s no fun going into events half-assed and not giving it my all, it’s been making me upset and stressed.”
So, at the Margaret River Pro, after a solid heat win in the opening round, the 37 year old announced the retirement of his 18-year long career. Along with the length and prominence of his WSL career, Burrow will be remembered most for pushing the innovation and progression of the sport as a whole.
Burrow has racked up 12 world tour wins since his first year joining WSL in 1998. Some of his most memorable wins include the Rookie of the Year title in 1998, World Title runner-up in 1999, beating Slater to win the J-Bay event in 2007, and claiming the Pipe Master’s trophy in 2009. His legendary performances full of aerials, speed, aggression, and flare have made fans call him the best surfer to never win a title.
And what does Taj have to say about ending his career without a title in his back pocket?
In a 2013 interview, he told Surfer, “Personally, if I never won a world title, I wouldn't be tormented by that thought. Of course that's what I want, but if it didn't happen, I'd still be happy with my career."
As he should be. Burrow helped define a new generation of surfer, especially with his dedication to putting out some of the most incredible and innovative free surfing films of his time. In that same interview, Burrow recalled, "When I was first on tour, so much of my focus and effort was on shooting videos. I'm really happy with the way those videos turned out.”
Again… as he should be. From his early videos Sabotaj and Montaj, to his having been among the first to incorporate heli footage in his films back in the early 2000s, to teaming with big wave surfer Mark Mathews to make surf history in 2014 (Taj and Mathews towed into the same bomb, with Mathews holding the camera), Burrow has continuously inspired and pushed the perspective on surfing.
Additionally, Burrow is revered as a legend who gets involved, helps juniors in the sport, and gives back to the community in general.
“Taj has been a terrific ambassador for Western Australia and for surfing.”
Burrow said he felt good about making his retirement announcement in his hometown of Margaret River. “I was driving down this morning with a good playlist on and a coffee and I felt so happy and relieved to be making this announcement.”
Being the good guy he is he says, “there’s not a better time to give [his] spot to someone more hungrier.”
Burrow did not say if he would compete at the next World Surf League (WSL) event in Brazil but confirmed the following event in Fiji would be his last.
Burrow’s career will be respectably remembered for his countless contributions to the sport and inspiring the progression of the industry. I know I’ll always remember Taj as my go-to character to pick when playing the Transworld Surf video game as a kid. What’s your favorite memory of Taj’s career? Tell us in the comments below.