The West

Burrow to live 16-year-old surf dream

He has spent almost half his life on the surfing world tour but Taj Burrow has always dreamt of competing in one place in his bid for the elusive world title.

This week, 16 years after the then 18-year-old became the youngest surfer to qualify for the tour, Burrow, 35, will finally get to surf for the title in WA.

"It's been a dream of mine to have a world tour event here," he said yesterday on the eve of the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.

"I've always been jealous of Mick (Fanning) and Joel (Parkinson) and the guys getting the contest in their backyard on the Gold Coast.

"It's so cool to be sleeping in your own bed, hanging with your friends and family and competing in your home ground."

The event is the second of 10 in the ASP World Championship and the first Margaret River round in more than 20 years.

Burrow hoped that in future the Pro would be expanded to other South West breaks, including his home beach Yallingup.

After the Gold Coast event last month, Burrow is equal third behind Brazilian Gabriel Medina and Parkinson.

Good conditions are forecast for heats to kick off at Surfers Point today. Australian Stephanie Gilmore, who heads the women's leaderboard, said she was finding her groove after a "shocker" tour last year.

"I've never really done that great at Margaret River so I'm going to have to put in a lot of hard work to win," she said.

Gilmore said she loved returning to WA's south and was enjoying exploring the region.

"You really get a good experience - its waves, wineries, beautiful landscapes," she said.

"Everything is an adventure."

Eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater made the shock announcement in Margaret River yesterday that he was splitting from sponsor Quiksilver.

After 23 years with the surf label, he said he was developing his own brand "that combines my love of clean living, responsibility and style" in partnership with the Kering Group.

The West Australian

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