JOEL Parkinson at the ripe surfing age of 27, has claimed the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Snickers. He defeated fellow Australian Adam Robertson, trials winner and event wildcard, in pumping six-foot (2 metre) conditions at Bells Beach. Parko has now taken two from two, putting himself in the driving seat for a maiden world title.
Adam Robertson deserves a special mention having fought his way to the final - he acquitted himself admirably - surely a big name sponsor is just around the corner?
Competitors enjoyed pristine conditions for the business end of competition, with capacity crowds turning up to watch the current ASP World No. 1 battle the local Victorian in a historic final. Today's victory marks the second time Parkinson has hoisted the bell - the first being in 2004.
"Winning at home is probably the most special win you can have but this is the most special trophy you can have," Parkinson said. "There is not another trophy in surfing that holds the prestige and honour list that this has. To be back on the trophy again and to hold it for a year is going to be amazing."
"I took confidence from home and now from here I'll take more," Parkinson said. "People can get caught up in the whole world title race, but I always said I wanted start the year with some results - I just never thought I would start this well. There are a lot of really hungry, angry surfers that are behind me and will come out so strong in the next events. I'm just showing up to the next event with my same game plan and taking things step by step. I've said since the Gold Coast that the World Title is a marathon, not a sprint. There are still eight events."
While Robertson opened up strong, it was Parkinson's forehand flair and precision that saw the Gold Coaster net an impressive 17.40 out of a possible 20 heat total for the win.
"Robbo (Adam Robertson) and I were having a great time out there," Parkinson said. "We were talking about what it takes to win and having a wonderful final. I have to really pay Robbo a huge compliment because of his effort out here. For a wildcard and coming through the trials, he surfed so many heats, (I think nine) and what's he accomplished is just so admirable."
Robertson's effort at the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will go down in history, as the young natural-footer's runner-up finish is the highest ever by a Victorian at the prestigious competition.
"I guess I just got on a roll in the heat against Bede (Durbidge) and the waves were really good and they suited me," Robertson said. "I just had to roll with it and I am really happy with the result."
Throughout the course of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Robertson went toe-to-toe with the world's best surfers, eliminating Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, Tom Whitaker (AUS), 29, Bede Durbidge (AUS), 25, among others in the process. Despite not having a major sponsor, Robertson's nine-heat effort proved to all that he's capable of world-class surfing
"It's great, I feel good, I feel fit and I feel like I am surfing well," Robertson said. "I just have to take that into the WQS (World Qualifying Series) and I hope to qualify for the ASP World Tour. The prize-money will help, but a little bit extra is always good, like a bit of sponsorship. But that's okay, it is really hard right now for a lot of people to get a sponsor, not just myself. My goal is just to go good and win prize money and keep going. I will just keep that mentality until someone comes along and if sponsorship doesn't come along then I've just got to keep going good."
Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 27, secured an equal 3rd at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (his best finish to date) with no-nonsense power surfing on his backhand before going down to Robertson in the semifinals. Despite failing to see a finals berth, Patacchia's stellar start to 2009 has him sitting No. 3 on the ASP World Tour ratings.
"I am totally stoked with my start to the year," Patacchia said. "Being a backsider out here is difficult, but I have been watching guys like Occ (Mark Occhilupo) and Tom Carroll all my life and it just takes time to figure it out. It is tricky. It is one of those waves you can surf your whole life and still have a shocker."
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21, former ASP World Junior Champion and ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 1, is into his second season on the ASP World Tour and today's finish matched his best result. The powerful natural-footer went on a tear through today's proceedings, eliminating former ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 27, in the quarterfinals before falling to eventual winner Parkinson in the semis.
"This is the best result of my career so far," Smith said. "I think it is equal with what I got at J-Bay as a wildcard. I can't complain. I'll maybe have a little fun tonight, a little party and celebrate with the winner. It has been pretty much good waves all week so I have been stoked to be down here. Congratulations to Joel (Parkinson), he made the final and he surfed really well. I think this year is his year, he is certainly a world title contender."
Highlights from Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach pres. by Snickers will be available via www.live.ripcurl.com
The next stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour will be the Billabong Pro Teahupoo from May 9 - 20, 2009.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH FINAL RESULTS:
1 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.40
2 - Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.37
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.33 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.24
SF 2: Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.87 def. Fred Patacchia (HAW) 12.73
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.17 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.66
QF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.50 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.16
QF 3: Adam Robertson (AUS) 14.26 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 12.33
QF 4: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.13 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.17