After 13 terrific seasons on the Championship Tour, Bede Durbidge officially surfed the final CT heat of his career at the Billabong Pipe Masters. That his Round Two elimination came at the hands of longtime mentor and fellow Gold Coaster, Mick Fanning, seems appropriate considering the bittersweet circumstances.
"Oh, there's too many highlights," said Durbidge afterwards. "But yeah, just surfing with all these boys, Mick and Josh [Kerr, and Ace Buchanand Tommy Whits WhitakeI think that's the best part -- just traveling around with your friends and family and all the good memories. The contest side is amazing, but that's what you remember forever."
Kerr's final CT heat was a bit more momentous. He nearly spoiled Gabriel Medina's World Title hopes, pushing the Brazilian to the edge in the final moments of their Round Three clash. Once thought of as strictly an "air guy," Kerr reinvented himself into one of the most well rounded surfers on the planet. Comfortable in both small and huge surf (he's the only CT surfer to have won a Big Wave Tour event, the Todos Santos Challenge in 2015), throwing aerials and grinding barrels, he spent a decade on Tour. And for a four-year stretch between 2011-2014, Kerr was ranked inside the top 10 overall (he finished No. 11 in 2015, No. 13 in 2016).
"Definitely an emotional moment -- my daughter comes on the beach crying and kissing me and all the boys carrying me up," said Kerr. "Super bittersweet. I'd love to keep going, but the most I've learned right now is winning isn't everything. I'm just stoked on where I'm at in life and everything like that. I feel like I'm winning with a great family, a good group of friends and family around me. I couldn't be happier with everything I've done in the past and what I have moving forward, so really excited. I've got a few things in the works that have to do with surfing."
Durbidge, the 2007 Pipe Master will be leaving the Championship Tour to take over the coaching reigns of Australia's elite surf team program leading up to the Toyko 2020 Olympics.
"I have a really good job moving forward and transitioning into working with the Olympic Australian team at HPC and Surfing Australia," he said. "It's super exciting for me and something I'm very passionate about. I move into that in January and it's going to another fun journey, another chapter in life."
The big Aussie, sometimes known as the White Fijian (an ode to his large feet), was briskly chaired up the beach by two of his closest Aussie contemporaries, Ace Buchan and Josh Kerr. After joining the Tour in 2005, Durbidge's career was highlighted by three career victories (Pipe, Trestles and Brazil) and a three-year span from 2007-2009 where he finished ranked inside the top five, including placing runner-up overall in 2008.