Add Joel Parkinson to the long list of Kelly Slater's rivals....in Joels very own backyard.
After barely losing to Parkinson for the 2012 ASP World Title, Slater began his 2013 campaign by unseating his new nemesis on Wednesday in a record book 40-minute final round of the Quiksilver Pro Australia; the two best surfers in the world traded near-perfect rides in pumping thick hollow four to six-foot surf. This was Slater's 52nd world tour win and his fourth win at the world-famous sand-bottom point break of Kirra on Australia's Gold Coast.
"It was an amazing day, congratulations to Kelly. This is why we surf, this is why we compete," Parkinson said in defeat....
Kelly Slater 11-time ASP World Champion and 2012 ASP World Runner-Up, claimed the 2013 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover in firing three-to-five foot barrels at Kirra on Wednesday, over reigning ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson in front of a capacity crowd on the Gold Coast.
The opening stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour culminated in fine fashion today with a tube-riding shootout between two of the sport’s greatest champions.
Slater and Parkinson opened their 40-minute Final bout with a rapid-fire exchange of tube-riding displays, vaulting the lead back and forth before Slater nailed a 9.93 for an incredibly-deep barrel punctuated by a full-velocity forehand gaff.
Wednesday's win marks Slater’s 52nd elite tour victory of his career, but the iconic Floridian admited that it’s a long season ahead in terms of the hunt for the 2013 ASP World Title.
In the first three minutes of the final the defending champ struck first, posting a score of 8.67. Slater countered with a 6.83 followed almost immediately by an 8.73-point ride. Twenty minutes later Slater added a near-perfect 9.83 to his score, essentially putting the title out of reach. Pulling in deep, he sat on the foam ball of the tube, came flying out and smashed a huge, full-rail layback turn. After a brief lull, Parkinson bagged a respectable 8.80 in a last-gasp effort, but Slater's lead proved insurmountable.
"The top three seeds went one, two, three, and I was expecting that I was going to have to get through Joel and Mick," Slater said. "I really wanted to surf Kirra, and it was really sick. There were some really good waves out there today."
In the semifinals, Parkinson opened with a 10-point ride and made short work of Michel Bourez who finished third, the best finish in Bourez's career thus far. Slater went back and forth with Mick Fanning in semifinal No. 2, only reaching the final with a last-minute 10-point ride.
"I want to dedicate this Daisy Merrick and the Merrick family and also Michael Peterson." Slater said. Seven-year-old Daisy Merrick died last month after a battle with cancer, and many in the surfing community helped to raise funds for her care.
Joel Parkinson looked unbeatable on the final day of the event, collecting a Perfect 10 in the morning Semifinal before posting an excellent 17.47 in his Final against Slater. However, the impressive scoreline proved insufficient against the American’s onslaught and the reigning ASP World Champion would post a Runner-Up finish in the opening event of the year.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, two-time ASP World Champion (2007, 2009), went down in a barrel shootout with Slater. Despite opening up with an impressive scoreline and an early lead, the Kirra local would ultimately fall to Slater in the dying moments of the heat – 18.60 to 19.37.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 27, opened up the morning’s action with a Semifinal bout against Parkinson. Despite being universally-celebrated as one of the most powerful surfers throughout the event, the Tahitian found himself at odds this morning after the Australian’s quick start to their clash.
The next stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) will be the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford from March 27 – April 7, 2013.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Kelly Slater (USA) 18.56
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.47
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.17 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.80
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.37 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.60
CURRENT ASP WCT TOP 5 (Following Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast):
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 10000 pts
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8000 pts
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 6500 pts
3. Michel Bourez (PYF) 6500 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 5200 pts
5. Julian Wilson (AUS) 5200 pts
5. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5200 pts
5. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5200 pts