The second stop of the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach celebrated its 50th year of operation this season and the Southern Ocean delivered one of the best swells in recent history for the world's best to sink their collective fangs into. Today's Final ran in front of a capacity crowd at Bells Beach, maxing out as early as 11am with cars lined back to the center of Torquay, and the elite ASP Top 34 delivered in sensational fashion.
Leaving little to chance in the highly-anticipated Final, Parkinson opened up with an 8.53 on the first ride of the heat and drove the nail into the coffin with a Perfect 10.
"To me, Mick (Fanning) has been the form surfer of the event and I was never going to take him lightly," Parkinson said. "I think we both had the same game plan of getting the first good one that came through and putting the momentum behind us. We scrapped for that first wave and I got the nod. Even though it was a mid-8, I knew I needed a lot more to hold him off so I just kept the pressure on from there."
Today's victory marks the third Bells title for the Gold Coaster and his 10th elite tour win overall.
"It's incredible," Parkinson said. "It's not so much the fact that I've won the event, but more so that it's the 50th anniversary. It feels that much more special. We've had such good waves too. I can't remember the last time that Bells had such good waves. I'm so excited. I can't believe this."
Parkinson, who's last two ASP World Title campaigns have been marred by injuries, is adamant that he is 100% healthy this season and surfing better than ever.
"I definitely feel like I'm back," Parkinson said. "I feel like I'm surfing better than I was back in '09 before I hurt my ankle. I'm feeling fit, I have some really good boards under my feet and I'm excited for the rest of the year."
Parkinson vaults from 9th to 2nd on the ASP World Title Rankings.
Fanning, who last rung the bell as a wildcard in 2001, was the in-form surfer of the event, consistently notching the highest single-wave scores and heat totals from Round 1 onwards. However, the lightning-fast natural-footer was unable to overtake his Gold Coast sparring partner in the Final.
"It was a tough Final," Fanning said. "For some reason overtime we have a heat he gets in sync real early. I tried to fight back but it was too little too late. Surfing against your mate is just like surfing against anyone else you've just got to go out and think about yourself and catching waves and getting scores. To have a mate beat me makes it a bit easier to swallow, but I'm still fired up for the rest of the year."
Fanning moves from 13th to 6th on the ASP World Title Rankings.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 24, 2010 ASP World Runner-Up, cruised through to the Semifinals of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach despite admittedly feeling out of rhythm throughout the event.
"It was a nice last wave, but it was a pity I didn't get any before that," Smith said. "I've felt off all week so to get a 3rd is pretty good. I've got two 3rds now, which is kind of frustrating because you want to make the Final, but that's how it goes sometimes. 3rd is better than 5th."
Smith further cements his position at ASP World No. 3.
Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, flew the South American flag high through the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, scalping a number of high-profile competitors before falling to Parkinson in the Semifinal.
"I found my rhythm in the heat against Kelly (Slater)," De Souza said. "But against Joel (Parkinson) I couldn't find any waves. I'm so frustrated because I wanted to ring the Bell, but I'm really happy with my result. Kelly is my hero, 10 x ASP World Champ, he just didn't get any waves, then it happened to me in the next round. It happens to everyone. Next up is my home event in Brazil, I hope Brazil is proud of me and Jadson (Andre) for doing well at this event."
De Souza goes from 9th to 4th on the ASP World Title Rankings.
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, suffered a surprise elimination at the hands of De Souza in this morning's Quarterfinal clash. The young Brazilian left little room for the Champ to respond and an admittedly out-of-rhythm Slater saw his Bells Beach title defense cut abruptly short.
"It's not my day, not my week and that happens," Slater said. "For some reason you don't make the right choices and you're not in sync with it, I'm definitely not in the zone this week at all. Every heat of mine has had slow surf and then when there were, waves I was on the wrong ones. It's the way it goes, you win some you lose some."
Slater's Equal 5th at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach sees the American holding the lead in the race for the 2011 ASP World Title heading into the next stop in Brazil.
"We're two events in and I've got a 1st and a 5th so I'm averaging about a 3rd, you want to be there and higher," Slater said. "These kind of waves favor the best guys, the guys you're going to expect to be at the top at the end of the year and all those guys are still in the event. A 5th isn't that bad a result, but when all the guys who you expect to be in the world title hunt finish higher than you it feels like a 17th."
Highlights from the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by FORD will be available via www.live.ripcurl.com
The next stop on the 2011 ASP World Title season is the Billabong Pro Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from May 11 - 22, 2011.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
Full report coming soon...
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH FINAL RESULTS:
1 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.53
2 - Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.26
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.33 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.00
SF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.87 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.23
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.66 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 13.16
QF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18.00 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.24
QF 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.16 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 11.10
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.46 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.03
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.17 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.26
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.97 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.66
Heat 3: Chris Davidson (AUS) 16.03 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.37
Heat 4: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.37 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.93
ASP WORLD TITLE RATINGS (After Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach):
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 15,200 pts
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14,000 pts
3. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13,000 pts
4. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10,500 pts
4. Tiago Pires (PRT) 10,500 pts