Surf: 6-8 foot perfect medium weight barrels
Events held: Rounds 3 and 4
Nature’s Call: See? All these world titles are up to me!
Predicted: An appalling hangover for Mick Fanning and co
Look, don’t blame me for the headline, OK? I did NOT think it up. Somebody at Rip Curl did and frankly I suspect it may have been Neil Ridgway, being how he is an ex Tracks magazine editor.
Ridgway is now Rip Curl’s global marketing person and he, among many others, was involved in the passionate mega-group hug that ensued after it became clear that Mick Fanning had hung on just that much longer than Joel Parkinson at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, and thus clinched the world professional surfing championship for a second time.
“Micktory” was the slogan scrawled across the T-shirts that almost magically appeared following Parko’s downbeat loss to Gavin Gillette, the talented young Hawaiian who’s seized the initiative after Joel took a slack inside Backdoor and left the lineup hanging open like another kind of door. One Mick happily walked through.
“What happens to Parko’s T-shirts?” Surfing magazine heard one spectator ask.
It was a cruel question, given the circumstances.
Truth is, this world title race was stacked against Joel from the moment he landed a simple air reverse in Bali back in July this year, and felt his foot scrunch up flat against his shin in a most unnatural manner.
The resulting injury, a high ankle sprain, usually requires surgery for a clean repair job. Pro footballers take three months off. But with seven weeks till Trestles, that kinda time wasn’t available.
“We just kept saying to him, ‘How lucky are you that there’s a break now?’” Luke Egan told Surfing on the beach yesterday, as Joel held his early lead against Gavin. “We didn’t talk about the injury so much as how lucky it was that there was time.”
But not quite enough of it, as Parko’s amazing mid-year momentum crumbled into three 17th places and a battle for recovery in Portugal.
“After he got a third there,” Luke said, “we talked about it and said this is the place he wanted to win it. Right here, in waves just like this.”
And yet for Parko, it wasn’t to be. His last ride of 2009 wasn’t a ride at all, but rather a dive off the inside rail to the base of a last wave that never looked like earning him the 6.54 he needed.
Meanwhile, the Fanning camp, a little further up the beach, went batshit crazy, hugging, screaming, and handing out those T-shirts.
Their man wouldn’t get to shore for another 40 minutes – he still had to let himself be outpointed by the third of the Coolie Kids of what seems now like the good old days of 1997, Dean “Dingo” Morrison. Dingo’s about to be married, and no doubt Joel and Mick will both attend his stag night in Vegas in a coupla weeks.
But for now, after winning the heat Mick no longer needed, Dingo got to be part of the Champ Ceremony, heaving his buddy up out of the water into the grasp of Occy and carrying him up the sands.
And Fanning’s coach, Phil McNamara, pretty much cried with relief. “I didn’t expect it to happen like this,” he said, “but I’m glad it’s done now.”
The Masters title now looks to be closest to a Floridian grip: either CJ Hobgood, who was brilliant today yet still has more in him for what ies ahead, or Kelly Slater, who surfed his 800th world tour heat today and scored 19.33, high score of the day, in the process. No more perfectly accurate summary of this person’s amazing skills exists – yet even it dimmed in the light of Micktory.
THE SURFING PREDICT-O-METER
God knows what kind of surf will host these last few heats of 2009. Let’s just assume it’ll be pretty damn good and go from there.
Dean Morrison vs Damien Hobgood
An even money bet. Both surfers are in wonderful form and have every reason to go hard. Whoever wins this will prove to be a fearsome opponent even for…
Flynn Novak vs Kelly Slater
…Kelly, who should prove too savvy and flexible an opponent than the very game and skilful Flynn in moderate sized Pipeline.
Taj Burrow vs Bede Durbidge
This pair are fighting for top five honors. Or are they? They’re probably just gonna go for a surf. But Bede will remember to pick the winning wave and make the semis against…
CJ Hobgood vs Dane Reynolds
…CJ, who has a momentum edge over Dane, who has it must be said been surfing beautifully nonetheless.
This last is the gold heat of the whole event and we believe whoever wins it will probably go right through and pick up the trophy. Yee-haaa!
DAY TWO EVENT COVERAGE || WRAP UP + VIDEO