Parko and Young Gudang get shacked in the highest scoring heat (so far) of the Reef Hawaiian Pro
By Daniel Ikaika Ito
Competitors, contest officials, spectators and anyone following the 27th Annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing were all waiting for heat 8 in round 4. That's because this heat of the Reef Hawaiian Pro featured everything we love about the North Shore. Barrels. Drama. A title contender. A 'QS warrior. A Hawaiian power surfer. And of course, ripping in waves of consequence.
World-ranked No.2 Joel Parkinson won the heat, displaying his trademark smooth and powerful style in the 4- to 8-foot waves at Haleiwa. Parko gnabbed the wave of the event so far: a double barreling 6-footer that was accentuated by a blistering fast roundie in the middle. The 27-year-old Aussie was rewarded a 9.87 by the judges and a raucous amount of cheering by the fans. Parko, who is the defending Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champion, was all smiles after the heat and grateful to be on the North Shore.
"I paddled out earlier and I haven't paddled out in awhile, and I realized I was back in Hawai'i and back in the Triple Crown," said Parko who earned a two-wave total of 16.54 out of a possible20. "I got really excited to be back. I love the Triple Crown to death and I would hate to miss it and I'm so glad I'm here."
Parko will face-off for the ASP World Championship against fellow Coolie kid and BFF Mick Fanning come December at the Billabong Pipeline Masters. According to Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Executive Director Randy Rarick, Fanning isn't competing in the Reef Hawaiian Pro because the 2007 world champ didn't turn in his contest application in time. Thus, eliminating Fanning's chance for his first Triple Crown title. Weak sauce, but that's how the chicken katsu crumbles sometimes.
So for now, all eyes are on Parko as he warms up at Hale'iwa for the ensuing battle at the Pipe Masters, as he campaigns for his second Vans Triple Crown of Surfing championship. Advancing out of the round four, super heat was San Clemente's Tanner Gudauskas. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 17th on the World Qualifying Series. He needs to make it to the semi-finals at Haleiwa, or make the quarterfinals at the Reef Hawaiian Pro as well as the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing to gain a berth on the 2010 Dream Tour.
If his performance today is an indication of his future success this winter than the youngest Gudauskas is on track. The goofy-foot took out Hawaiian powerhouse Pancho Sullivan and Brazilian darkhorse Marco Farney.
"I just kind of figured I would need a hell of a lot to make that heat. I was psyching myself out because these guys have no flaws: Pancho (Sullivan) is pretty much a Triple Crown hero and Parko is a world champ contender," said a relieved Gudauskas. "I just figured I would have to try as hard as I could and it was epic because there was tons of waves in the beginning of the heat, and there was no weird stuff."
Tanner posted a two-wave total of 15.43 and also found a late-drop, pig-dogging tube ride in the heat that earned an 8.60. "That was hilarious," said Tanner of his barrel ride. "I took off late thinking I blew that wave and I turned up, it was kind of looking like it was already going to barrel. So, I just grabbed my rail and I just made it."
Gudauskas, Parko and the remaining 30 competitors are squaring off today to decide the 2010 Reef Hawaiian Pro champion. Haleiwa forecasted to go off with 8-to 10-foot bombs, making the final day of competition exciting for all of us.