Swell.com Blog. Surf, style and shop talk from the crew at the largest online surf shop.
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In the biggest feel-good win in years, Joel Parkinson puts on a spectacular display of competitive flair to capture his first world title. Parko was the biggest threat to Ke11y’s 12th crown, and they had the entire surfing world on the edge of their towels at the Billabong Pipemasters in Memory of Andy Irons.
Enjoy the memorable recap of his run at the ASP World Title.
Parko’s 12-year title campaign saw more ups than downs, but the stats show he really earned it.
6: # of boards Parko broke at Pipe this winter 31: # of Stitches in his foot from his Snapper fin gash 22: # of Parko Signature Styles on SWELL 40,000: Bar-tab charged after Parko won the Quik Pro (Turns out they added an extra “0″ to 4K) 3689: # of #GOPARKO tags on Instagram 67.34: Career Heat Winning % 16,400: # of people talking about Parko on Facebook 7.57: Avg Wave score in 2012 4: # of Years he was runner up for the world title.
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Not since 2009 has the Men’s ASP World Title Race come down to the final stop of the year, the Billabong Pipeline Masters in memory of Andy Irons. Back to back wins at Trestles and France skyrocketed Kelly Slater into a world #2 position and is now within striking distance of Joel Parkinson’s #1 spot. Surfline forecasts epic 8-10 ft waves for the first 3 days of competition, which definitely heightens the drama.
As the math goes, in order for Parko to clinch the title he will need to place better than Kelly Slater. A feat that judging by Kelly’s stellar record at Pipeline, could be a mental hurtle for Parkinson even though Slater lost to Joel in the semi-finals. And don’t count out Mick Fanning, who mathematically can still take the crown with a win at the Pipeline. Three surfers in the title race at Pipe, it’s all so exciting!
Here’s the breakdown of scenarios: If Parkinson finishes 13th, 9th or 5th at the Billabong Pipe Masters:
• Slater needs a 5th or higher to take the 2012 ASP World Title.
• Fanning needs to win at Pipeline to take the 2012 ASP World Title. (*Contingent upon Slater finishing 5th or lower at Pipeline.) If Parkinson finishes Equal 3rd at the Billabong Pipe Masters:
• Slater needs a 3rd or higher to take the 2012 ASP World Title.
• Fanning needs to win at Pipeline to take the 2012 ASP World Title. (*Contingent upon Slater finishing 5th or lower at Pipeline.) If Parkinson finishes 2nd at the Billabong Pipe Masters:
• Slater needs to win at Pipeline to take the 2012 ASP World Title.
• Fanning cannot win the 2012 ASP World Title. If Parkinson wins the Billabong Pipe Masters, he will take the 2012 ASP World Title.
At this point all of the team houses from Off The Wall to Pipeline are full of ASP elite surfers. Aussies Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow decided to opt out of the Triple Crown in order to focus their energy on Pipe, while the hungry pack of local wildcards have been facing off at Haleiwa and Sunset.
As you may or may not have heard, Nike surf is no longer. All the Nike riders were escorted over to Hurley and surfers like Julian Wilson and Kolohe Andino will dawn the Hurley logo come Pipe Masters. This means Hurley will be the main sponsor of 8 out of 34 surfers on the WCT (Julian, Ace, Michel, Alejo, Miguel, Brett, Kolohe and Yadin).
Local "Enforcers" in SWELL Truckers, Volcom Pipe House, Billabong Off the Wall House
More often than not the team houses mentioned above are run by local heavies hired by each company to make sure their team riders don’t get themselves into trouble out in the lineup. Because as most everybody knows, Hawaii is one place you don’t want to slip up.
Pipeline, Backdoor and Off the Wall are three of the heaviest waves in the world sitting right next to each other. A small mistake out there can cost you your life, so any dropping in on locals is considered a threat to their life. Therefore, the locals take surfing this break very seriously and a misstep by an outside surfer can result in heavy consequences. As you can see in the footage below, Nathan Fletcher’s life was put in jeopardy from a sponger dropping in on him. And he paid the consequences. Surfing this stretch of beach is not for the faint of heart.
The Billabong Pipeline Masters in memory of Andy Irons celebrates the life of a champion and friend to many, A.I. It has been just over two years since the tragic passing of the 4-time Pipemaster and one of best personalities our sport has ever known. The Billabong Pipe Masters is dedicated to the 3-time surfing World Champion, who famously stole the crown from Slater at Pipeline in 2006 in what many say is the best Pipe Masters final of all time. A true legend.
Billabong is also proud to announce the new global AI Forever collection for release in Summer 2013 in stores and online March 15, in the USA. Proceeds from the AI Forever line will go toward ongoing guaranteed support for Andy’s wife Lyndie and young son Axel. Aloha and #goparko.
Fox Head just made another major acquisition in their 2012 campaign to redefine their position in the Surf Industry by signing Bruce Irons. That’s right, after 20 years as Volcom’s top team rider, Brucey is turning in his Stone for a Fox sticker on his board during the 2012 Billabong Pipemasters.
Enich Harris who signed the late great Andy Irons to Billabong, was hired as Fox’s Global VP of Marketing last month. He foreshadowed the move in his Shop-Eat-Surf interview “An initial focus will be the task to reinvent Fox’s approach to surf and bring new energy to the industry. Out of the gates the most visible changes you will see at Fox in that arena will include building a strong team both internally and with athletes.”
Sources indicated that Bruce signed a multi-year deal, and a signature collection of Bruce Irons clothing, footwear and accessories will be released in early 2013.
When Bruce’s Volcom contract expired in 2004 Bruce turned down competing offers and expressed his lifetime loyalty to Richard Woolcott for putting faith in him at the age of 13. But much has changed with Bruce and V-Co since they renegotiated 8 years ago; Bruce lost his brother, gained a son, and conquered many of the world’s deadliest waves, while Volcom has gone public and is now dealing with changing media rights that has caused some companies to reduce their investment in surfing.
So why is this 33 yr old non-touring surfer such a significant signing for Fox? 6 words: slabs, snaps, airs, balls, attitude, style. Bruce is the whole package, see for yourself…
Bruce Irons signing with Fox raises questions about the changing landscape of surfing, like “What will become of the Pipe House” and “What’s next for Fox…a possible U.S. Open Sponsorship?”
One thing is for certain, Bruce will continue to think and charge like he can surf any wave in the world, as he claims. He joins fellow big wave charging Hawaiian Ian Walsh, WCT dark-horses Bede Durbidge and Damien Hobgood , and a pack of hungry touring pros on the Fox Head team.
John John scores 10s, Slater nails buzzer-beater comebacks, and Kieren Perrow (literally held together by duct tape) redeems last year’s finals fail. Pipemasters 2011 was the culmination of a record year of amazing surf on the World Championship Surfing Tour, and most surfers have the scars, staph, and cover-shots to prove it.
After the opening ceremonies came a special blessing in memory of Andy Irons, and a first birthday cheers to his son Axel Irons smiling on the beach with mom Lyndie. The wave gods proceeded to put on a spectacle of bombing surf that continuously drenched spectators like the Shamu Show.
Surfline predicted the swell would break at second and third reef pipeline during the first day of competition, something we haven’t seen since the 97′ Pipemasters. An irregularly sober mood swept the field of surfing’s favorite jokers. Perhaps out of fear for his riders, Jeff Hurley suggested starting to run heats a day early in more contestable conditions. But Slater said “There’s about 100 yards of sand that still needs to wash off the reef, and the wave doesn’t know where to go until this first pulse can push it off” and everyone reluctantly agreed.
Round 1 started with pipe-savvy Hawaiian wildcards like Marcus Hickman, Ian Walsh, and Jamie O’Brien winning 8 of 12 heats, while the visiting CT boys were just happy to make it back to the sand.
Here’s a few post comments that surfers told the SWELL team after their round 1 heats:
“Those were the worst beatings I’ve ever taken in a contest”-Ian Walsh “Has anyone seen the other half of my board?”-Jamie O’Brien “I was praying they would postpone the heats until the swell died down” -Kolohe Andino “I got slapped around so hard, and had no idea which way I was paddling” -Bruce Irons
In Round 2 John John Florence continued his triple crown campaign scoring a perfect 10 and a 9.93 in round 3. But who other than Slater to nearly dash his lifelong hopes of a triple crown title in their quarter final face-off. From the beach it appeared the judges would be accused of another scoring scandal, but decide for yourself in this heat recap.
After losing to Slater, Michel Bourez had to make the finals to steal surfing’s second highest honor, but honorary Hawaiian Kieren Perrow weaved through backdoor to keep the crown in Hawaii with John John Florence.
Kieren earned his first elite victory after 20 years as a touring pro. Only a day earlier he was facing elimination from next year’s tour, but went on to beat Taj, Dorian, Gabriel Medina, Michel, and finally Parko, to become the 2011 Billabong Pipemasters Champion. This smiling 34 yr old Aussie is the surfer’s representative to the ASP, a respected big-wave charger, and a role model family-man.
Even Slater teared up as he announced the victory over the live webcast. Everyone was “over the moon”
Watch thrills and spills from the first day of firing surf.