But there was even more to the story than that. Joining the Aussie mates was six-time Vans Triple Crown champion Sunny Garcia, 39, who had to finish first or second to win a wildcard into next week’s Pipeline Masters and keep his dream of a seventh Vans title alive. He pulled it off as the cameras filming his life story documentary rolled. And then there was Dusty Payne, the 20-year-old from Maui who needed to do well today to become the first Maui surfer in history to qualify for the ASP Dream Tour. He did just that, finishing fourth in the final.
Above: Joel Parkinson, styling all the way to the podium.
(Photo: Kirstin Scholtz)
Taylor Knox (Carlsbad) was the highest placed Californian, losing in the semi-finals to Joel and Sunny to place equal 7th.
Sunny started out strongest in the 35-minute final, locking in the deepest barrel of the day, worth 9.47 out of 10, that put his rivals on red alert. Fanning and ‘Parko’ were having their own preliminary world title match up on the West Bowl. The two traded off small barrel rides for average scores, as Garcia stayed busy but couldn’t find a backup for his major score. Parkinson finally managed to post a 7.0 with a couple of smooth on-rail carves and with only two minutes remaining scored a 6.17 for a late barrel through the inside. Garcia scratched as the Nixon timer counted down, ultimately failing to find the mere 3.7 score he needed for a win.
Parkinson joins Hawaii’s legendary Michael Ho as the only three-time winners of the O’Neill World Cup at Sunset Beach. If he can win this year’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title, he can claim a $50,000 bonus and a $10,000 custom Nixon watch. But Garcia is hot on his heels – only 31 points, or less than a place, behind.
“I couldn’t hear the score, but I heard the crowd,” said Parkinson of Sunny’s 9.47 ride. “I knew I had my work cut out for me.
“With two minutes to go (Sunny) needed a three and I felt like telling him ‘you just gotta go anything’.
“It’s a little sweeter because I’m coming off a bit of an injury. Right now it feels really good because I’m back on the podium and back winning going into the biggest battle of my career.
“I love the Triple Crown.”
While the commentators, crowd and media drooled over the Parko/Fanning matchup today and prelude to the world title, Mick was quick to deflect the pressure to Joel.
“I’m in the lead and all the pressure is on Joel now,” said Fanning. “He has to get third (at Pipe). There’s no room for error for him. I’m just concentrating on myself and getting through as many heats as possible and making it as hard as possible for him.
“I just wanted to get some heats under my belt. It’s getting back in that rhythm of doing heats again and everything feels real good. I’m excited.”
In classic Garcia style, none of his brilliance today ended up being good enough without taking the winner’s cup home.
“It’s not how it starts, it’s how it ends,” said Garcia.
“It feels good, but I’m still bummed that I lost. I came this far and I wanted to win. I started off with a 9.4 and to need a three at the end of the heat and not get it was a little frustrating. Hopefully, they’ll run the Eddie tomorrow, I’ll go get some big waves and wash out this loss and get ready for Pipe.”
Known for being a last-minute guy, Payne wait until the last event of the year to qualify.
“It’s a dream to make the WCT,” said Dusty Payne. “I’m over the moon right now. It hasn’t sunk in yet
and I don’t think it will until the tour starts next year.”
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing now moves to Pipeline for the ultimate showdown: the Billabong Pipeline Masters, where the lion’s share of the $1,000,000 Vans Triple Crown prize purse will be doled out. $50,000 will go to the Triple Crown champion; $340,000 is up for grabs in the Pipe Masters and the winner there will receive a total of $90,000. Vans will also award the ASP world champion with a $50,000 bonus.
FUEL TV will be broadcasting the finals of the Pipe Masters live in the United States.
For all the action, log on to www.triplecrownofsurfing.com. Find out the call for the day, each day, as soon as it’s made by Director Randy Rarick by signing up for mobile text alerts at triplecrownofsurfing.com. When competition resumes, all the action will be broadcast live on the web at triplecrownofsurfing.com, as well as on Hawaii television on Oceanic channel 250.
Making the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing presented by Rockstar Energy Drink possible: Reef, O’Neill, Billabong, Gidget Worldwide, Nixon, Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaiian Airlines, JN Automotive Group, Surfing Magazine, Surfline.com, FUEL TV, The Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaiian Springs Water, Road Runner, Climb On! chemical-free skincare, and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP). The Series is proud to announce that it is working with local company Tr3ees to embark upon a greener, more sustainable future.
1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) – $20,000 – 3,500 points
2. Sunny Garcia (HAW) – $10,000 – 3,063 points
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) – $5,100 – 2,625 points
4. Dusty Payne (HAW) – $4,900 – 2,494 points
1: Mick Fanning (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW), Torrey Meister (HAW), Daniel Ross (AUS)
2: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Sunny Garcia (HAW), Mason Ho (HAW), Taylor Knox (USA)
1: Daniel Ross (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Jihad Khodr (BRA)
2: Mick Fanning (AUS), Torrey Meister (HAW), Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Glen Hall (IRL)
3: Taylor Knox (USA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
4: Mason Ho (HAW), Sunny Garcia (HAW), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS)