It was a nail biter coming into today – the final day of the Billabong Pipeline Masters. Pipe is the last event of the season and the title of 2012 World Champion would be decided at this event. It was a two-man battle between Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson.
Each heat that Kelly and Joel surfed had an impact on the World Title race. If Kelly lost in Round 4 or 5, Joel would win the title. However, if both Joel and Kelly advanced to the Quarterfinals, the math changes and Kelly would have a slight lead in the title race. There were a number of scenarios that could play out but of course, everyone wanted to see a showdown in the final.
The story lines throughout the day were crazy.
After losing to Josh Kerr in Round 4, Kelly came back and surfed with a laser focus in Round 5 against Miguel Pupo. He needed to win this heat and advance to the Quarterfinals – that’s often when he surfs his best. Even though Pupo scored a perfect 10 on one of his waves, Kelly took the heat and won 18.40 to 10.66.
Next, Kelly surfed against Shane Dorian in the Quarterfinals. Shane received a wild card entry into the event and is one of the best big wave surfers. He’s also great friends with Kelly and they were dead-even in their lifetime match-ups. They surfed a super close heat that came down to the very last wave. Shane needed a 9.41 to take the lead. If Kelly lost, Joel would win the title. Both surfers were back on the beach and Joel was in the water for his Semifinal heat against Damien Hobgood when the score came in – 8.83. Kelly advanced to the Semifinals.
In the Semifinals, Kelly was up against Josh Kerr. Josh caught a good wave right away and Kelly figured that there were 29 minutes left in the heat – plenty of time to get the scores he needed. But he was wrong. After that first wave, he didn’t really have a chance. Josh won 11.13 to 4.90 and Kelly was eliminated.
Josh started the day off winning his Round 4 heat against Kelly Slater and Gabriel Medina which advanced him straight to the Quarterfinals. It was a good thing too because Josh took a nasty fall, landing straight on his shoulder which was already injured. While he stayed out for the rest of the heat, he was taken to the hospital afterwards to get checked out.
He came back and surfed his way into the finals against Joel Parkinson.
This was Joel’s 11th year on the ASP Tour and he’s been runner-up in the World Title race four times. He had been surfing incredibly well and consistently all year but he had not won a event. With Josh Kerr eliminating Kelly in the Semifinals, Joel won the 2012 ASP World Title. He was out on the balcony of the Billabong House watching the heat.
But he still had to get out in the water about 30 minutes later and surf the event final against Josh. With the title secured, he could have just given it away or could have lost focus but he surfed a good heat and won 17.17 to 14.83.
I’m super stoked for Parko but I’m kind of sad that the season is over. The 2013 season kicks off in March with the Quiksilver Pro in Australia.
You can watch replays of the heats via the Billabong Pipemaster Heat Analyzer.