Mick Fanning couldn't hide from a set wave at Sunset during the semi-finals of the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing. After exiting his third barrel of the heat and appearing poised to steal an ominous head-to-head victory from World Title contender Joel Parkinson in the upcoming final, the story of the 2009 ASP World Championship appeared to write itself. But as the finals of the Triple Crown's second jewel began, a heat which featured something old (Sunny Garcia), something new (Dusty Payne) and something current (Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning), the heat evolved into a tactical battle that saw Parko scoop the lead from Garcia in the dying minutes.
"It's f--kin awesome," said Parkinson of his win, which catapulted him to the forefront of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Ratings. "I came to Hawaii and I was just using Haleiwa and Sunset as a warm-up to get into that flow and routine going into Pipe and I kind of got that out of it, plus being ahead in the Triple Crown, so that's a bonus."
And for Parkinson, things just appear to be getting better. With his ankle finally healed (“I don't feel it," said Parkinson. "That's done, so that's awesome."), his sights are set on achieving something he has never done before: winning a world title - something good friend Mick Fanning has little intention of assisting.
"I'm in the lead, and I guess all the pressure is on Joel now," said Fanning. "He has to get a third. There's no room for error for him, but I'm just concentrating on myself and I'm going to get through as many heats as possible and make it as hard as possible for him."
In the next few days, as Hawaii sustains some of the biggest swell it has seen in years and big-wave surfers brace for the Eddie, Joel can sit back and feel confident.
"It's good to be back on the winning podium," said Parkinson. "You just hope that whatever happens, it goes your way."
2010 ASP World Tour Implications
Dusty Gets By with a Little Help from His Friends
While drama for the 2009 ASP World Title heated up at Sunset, the 2010 ASP World Tour roster just got a lot younger and a lot more American. Dusty Payne's finals appearance afforded him qualification for 2010 ASP World Tour alongside Pat Gudauskas, Tanner Gudauskas, Brett Simpson, and Nate Yeomans.
"I'm over the moon," Payne said. "I've got to give big thanks to Kekoa Bacalso in that heat. He helped me out. He asked me If I needed to get through the heat and told me he'd help me. He told me just to pick the waves I wanted and said he'd let me go. It's so good to have a good friend like that in a heat especially in such a clutch time.”