World Title Implications

The state of the Tour after the Coldwater Classic

Joel Parkinson will go into Pipe ranked No. 1 and a world title favorite, but Slater and Fanning will be nipping at his heels. Photo: Glaser

There were a select few pivotal moments during the recent Coldwater Classic in Santa Cruz that stole the spotlight during the middle rounds. Not until the latter part of Finals day did the attention shift to who would be taking home the golden head of Jack O'Neill and his eyepatch as a trophy. With the event so late in the year, some heats held more weight than others, directly affecting the fate of the five surfers who were battling for the No. 1 spot.

Round 2, Heat 2. Mick Fanning vs. Jadson Andre
Early in Round 2, Mick Fanning went blitzkrieg on a wave for a 9.73, setting a familiar tone of dominance that at this point in the year we've come to expect. No one mentioned this to Jadson Andre, who dialed in a 6.6 and a 7.5 for the first of many upsets in the round. Mick's early exit all but closed the door on his shot at the title.

Round 2, Heat 3. John Florence vs. Matt Wilkinson
The form that saw Wilko through to the Final started in this Round 2 heat. In the shadow of Mick’s loss, Wilko made quick work of John Florence, eliminating him from the contest and from the title conversation. Florence will still be a natural favorite at Pipeline, particularly if this heat left a chip on his shoulder.

Round 5, Heat 4. Kelly Slater vs. Adriano de Souza
Prior to this heat, Slater owned this match-up, with an 11-3 record versus Adriano de Souza. However, de Souza had won the last two, and needed to advance to stay in the title hunt. In the competitors' tent before the heat, an old, hirsute Santa Cruz Wizard bashed a giant gong as Slater left for the water, which in Santa Cruz is apparently meant to be some sort of blessing. It was weird, and it didn't work, as Slater continued to struggle in the unpredictable surf and de Souza snuck by for his third win against him in a row.

Slater never seemed to figure out Steamer Lane; he'll look much more familiar at Pipe come Dec. 8. Photo: Lowe-White

Quarterfinal 2. Joel Parkinson vs. Travis Logie
Immediately after his Round 5 loss, Slater set up with his entourage on the edge of the competitors' tent to watch Parko's Quarterfinal heat. The result would have a direct impact on their battle for the world title, a Parko loss minimizing the consequences of Slater's equal 9th finish. In the final minute, with Parko needing a score, he had priority over Logie as a set rolled in. He paddled for the first wave but it closed out on him, leaving the door open for Logie to advance through to the Quarters and keeping the title race open through to Pipe. Slater left his seat in the tent, went back to Santa Cruz Santa, and banged the gong in joy.

Quarterfinal 4. Matt Wilkinson vs. Adriano de Souza
In what had become characteristic Wilko at this point in the contest, he sat off the point late in the heat on the verge of upsetting Adriano de Souza. De Souza needed to make the Finals of this contest to have a shot at the title. Both surfers were riding a wave as time expired, but Wilko's 5.07 proved enough to overcome de Souza's 6.57. Wilko delivered and de Souza is out of contention. Brazil waits at least another year for a world title.

Beachside Commentary. Sage Erickson vs. Malia Manuel.
We hope they both requalified for the next O'Neill event.

Mick Fanning left Santa Cruz ranked third, but shouldn't be counted out in Hawaii. Photo: Lowe-White

So where does this leave us for Pipe? Joel Parkinson remains atop the rankings, with Kelly Slater in a close second. In a distant third sits Mick Fanning, whose odds to win the title at Pipe are slim. But I'm saying there's a chance. Here are the scenarios, from the ASP, that could play out in Hawaii and will determine this year's champ. Potentially, the 2012 ASP World Title could be decided on the final day of the Pipe Masters. Yew.

If Parko finishes 5th or lower at Pipe:
– Slater needs a 5th or better to win the title.
– Fanning needs to win Pipe to win the title. (if Slater finishes worse than 5th)

If Parko finishes 3rd at Pipe:
– Slater needs a 3rd or better to win the title.
– Fanning needs to win Pipe to win the title. (if Slater finishes worse than 5th)

If Parko finishes 2nd at Pipe:
– Slater needs to win at Pipe to win the title.
– Fanning can't win the title.

If Parko wins at Pipe:
– He wins the 2012 World Title.