AUSTRALIA'S, Joel Parkinson, triumphed at the the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, Kirra, in solid conditions. He defeated fellow finalist Adriano de Souza (Bra) in sizeable 6 to 8ft/3m surf. Plauged by poor conditions, the event ran right through the holding period and surprisingly ended on a high with some epic surfing on the final day.
After a 12-year hiatus, the World Tour returned to Kirra for the finals of the Quiksilver Pro. Whilst it was not classic Kirra, the challenging conditions at the historic pointbreak offered churning barrels with massive scoring potential.
The pre-event favourite, Kelly Slater, bowed out in round three whilst riding his much-hyped, new-style boards.
Parkinson, winner of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in 2002, was fearless from the outset in the hard-fought final, collecting an excellent 8.83 out of a possible 10 on his opening ride and breaking his board in the process.
"That first wave was a good one but I came down funny on the floater and buckled my board," Parkinson said. "I came in and just got energized when I heard the score and everyone on the beach really pumped me up. The crowd was awesome. There are so many people. Down here you don't really see it, but from the water you can see the crowd on the hill and all along Coolangatta and even down Kirra Point. I could hear them roaring, it was amazing."
The hometown favorite would return to the lineup to collect a bevy of high scores, including a 7.50 and an 8.17, before nailing his second perfect 10 of the day, pushing his heat total to an unbeatable 18.84 out of a possible 20.
"I was thinking it has been a long time between drinks [ASP World Tour event wins]," said Parkinson. "Until the hooter blew, I didn't know what emotion I would feel. It's the kind of thing where you're surrounded by a lot of people and it's not until you pull yourself back and you're together with family and friends... that's really when you feel all of your emotions. Right now I'm on a high and I'm buzzing but it will be a few hours before it all sinks in."
Parkinson now sits atop the ASP World Tour ratings, in excellent position for his 2009 campaign for the ASP World Title.
"There's still a long way to go and there are a lot of dangerous surfers out there," Parkinson said. "I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. It is a long year with a lot of stops on the Dream Tour. It is going to be a great year."
De Souza, former ASP World Junior Champion and into his first final ever in an ASP World Tour event, was unable to find a rhythm against Parkinson, only grabbing a 7.00 out of a possible 10 as a noteworthy score.
"I saw Kirra break a couple of years ago but I am too young to have seen it break like it has in the past," De Souza said. "These are the best waves so far during my time in Australia. I am really glad with everything. Second place for me is an amazing result. I will just keep trying to do the same thing at the next event."
Despite not claiming the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, De Souza's runner-up finish today sees him rocket to No. 2 on the ASP World Tour ratings, putting himself in excellent position for the season ahead.
"It was my first Final ever so I'm happy with my performance," De Souza said. "I will just try to keep focused and determined for the rest of the year. It is amazing for me. It is a big thing that has happened in my life this final."
Heat of the event had to go to the semis where, Mick Fanning (Aus), two-time past winner of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast narrowly lost to Parkinson, 19.93 to 17.66.
"Cyclone Hamish turned it on for us," Fanning said. "It's one of those days where you can have one of the best surfs of your life or one of the worst surfs of your life. It wasn't the best surf of my life, but it was definitely up there."
The incredible conditions provided the ideal forum for the two locals to raise the performance bar, and while the lead flip-flopped several times throughout the semifinal, it was Parkinson's perfect 10 that would nail the coffin shut.
"I didn't see Joel's 9.90 but I saw his 10," Fanning said. "When his head popped out, I knew. I said to myself I would give that a 10. Congratulations to him, he surfed an awesome heat."
Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, finished equal third at today's Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, going down to eventual event runner-up De Souza in Semifinal 2.
"I felt really lost at sea," Burrow said. "It was a total lucky dip, then the wind squall came through and it got even more wild and washed out. Every time a wave came that looked any good, Adriano (de Souza) was sitting next to me with priority. I was just really unlucky. Last time I surfed here, I got a perfect 10 as a wildcard, so I have good memories of Kirra. I would have loved a 10 at the end of that heat. I?m just looking forward to the next event now.?
Highlights from the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will be available via www.quiksilverpro.com.au
The next stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour will be the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach from April 7 to 18, 2009.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST FINAL RESULTS:
1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.83
2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.30
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 19.93 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.66
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.84 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 5.34
CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 5:
1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 1200 points
2. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 1032 points
3. Taj Burrow (AUS) 876 points
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 876 points
5. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 732 points
5. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 732 points
5. Adrian Buchan (AUS)732 points
5. Damien Hobgood (USA) 732 points