While betting on the surfing might be off-limits for active competitors, there are no restrictions on what the recently retired members of the top 34 might do with all that hard-earned inside knowledge. Taj Burrow certainly wasn’t missing out on the fun. “I’ve got a hundred dollars on Medina at six to one … I’d hate to have Gabs chasing me,” Taj commented, while enjoying a beer at Sydney Airport, en route to Hawaii for a Billabong, North Shore, party that boasts Iggy Pop as its guest of honour.

“It’s kind of a win-win,” continued a beaming Taj. I’d like John to win (the world title and The Pipe Masters) and I think he probably will, but if he doesn’t well…”

Perhaps going on the punt is a good way for Taj to let go of a pro-surfing world he was at the centre of for two decades. If he isn’t surfing heats he can at least live vicariously through the ones he bets on. Taj indicated his flutter also included a lash on Josh Kerr, Sebastian Zietz and Caio Ibelli. He was particularly hopeful that a retiring Kerrsy would come in at long odds and indicated he had been texting him words of encouragement.

And what of his old sparring partner, Kelly Slater, did Taj think he was worth a piece at the 12-1 odds some punters got him at? “Yeah, I don’t know. I think his foots still probably not right. That was a pretty bad break; particularly in the tube, it’s going to hurt.”

Show me the money. Taj Burrow has laid his bets for the Billabong Pipe Masters.

While obviously relishing the opportunity to have a dabble on the Pipe ponies, Taj was equally thrilled about the prospect of rubbing shoulders with Iggy Pop, also insisting that his Billabong chum, Creed McTaggart, was pumped about taking the stage in front of the punk-rock legend.

“Creed’s so psyched on it, because he’ s such a hero to him,” enthused Taj.

Creed’s band ‘Wash’ is scheduled to play the Friday night party alongside Byron outfit ‘Skegss’, and it seems everyone is hopeful that rock-lord, Iggy will join in on the backyard jam at the Billabong, North Shore house ­– right in front of Pipe and Off the Wall.  

When we ran into Skegss bass player come surf-filmer, Toby Cregan, at Nth Shore institution Café  Haleiwa (where Mick Fanning was also enjoying his lunchtime grindz) Toby was a little overwhelmed by the prospect of fronting a stage in the presence of Iggy. Meanwhile, Creed was busy buying a new Campbell Brothers Bonzer off the rack. The café is owned and run by Bonzer co-creator, Duncan Campbell, and doubles as a board outlet for his cherished shooters. Lucky for Creed, Duncan was on hand to talk him through the conceptual inspiration for his shiny new ride.

Meanwhile, a messy, fifteen- twenty-foot swell is battering the Nth Shore. This afternoon there were twenty or so gun-slingers waiting patiently at Waimea for the sets. Aside from that the only other guy out was a lone tow-surfer at big, unruly Pipe. Things are predicted to settle down a little over the next couple of days, but Creed McTaggart might have a hard time finding a protected corner to test out his new Bonzer ride. However, come Friday night, Hawaiian time, he’ll certainly be fronting a backyard stage with Iggy Pop on the scene. It’s a big gig. How Billabong keeps a handle on the party no one can be sure, but everyone is certainly hoping that Iggy Pop makes at least a cameo performance; juiced up on a hit of fifteen foot Pipe, a snort of trade winds and a whole lot of Billabongs. It might just be the wildest night the North Shore has ever seen. Want to bet on it?