Joel Parkinson wins the 2009 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast

Conditions: Double-overhead Kirra depth charges
Events Held: Ali/Frazier…I mean, Semis and the Final
Nature's Call: Dear PR department of the Save Kirra movement: You're welcome.
Predictions: Our grandchildren will grow very tired of hearing about today

My {{{Journey}}} Through the Final Day, by Stuart Cornuelle

The first decision to make this morning was, as it should always be, whether or not to go for a surf. At dawn, the view from Rainbow Bay wasn't pretty: ragged six-foot beasties hacked to bits by an Eastish wind, pushing wide of the Superbank and sectioning in a distinctly non-super fashion. Without a leash it seemed like a bad idea – it's called Snapper ROCKS for a reason, and the rip would surely kidnap a lost board. No surf for now.

Second decision: eggs poached or over-easy? The ASP caters a daily breakfast spread for staff and media in the Rainbow Bay Surf Club, and it's become the standard meeting place for contest folk to gather and discuss the day's surf potential every morning. Between sips of free latte, consensus emerged that yesterday's "Coolangatta Beach" (Snirra) location would provide the most-contestable waves for the Quik Pro's three remaining heats. A 9:00am start was called, and the army of contest personnel began to mobilize for the impending semifinal between Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson. The poached eggs were very good.

Third decision: Jog 15 minutes up the coast to the makeshift scaffolding near Kirra, or stay put in the Snapper Rocks media center to watch a live broadcast of the heats on TV? The rain was wafting down at this point, and the first heat had been postponed an extra half-hour to give the five water patrol skis time to negotiate an unruly sea. Snirra looked like maxing {{{Rocky}}} Point, deadly eight-foot closeouts exhaling with a sort of twisted beauty. Cyclone Hamish, it seemed, had taken Snirra to the prom and poured her too much of the sauce – so now Snirra was folding over and heaving. Shame on you, Hamish.

My friend Ben Macartney of Coastalwatch was sitting next to me reading weather maps and said, pointing at a non-descript shape on his screen, that the rain would let up and clear out momentarily. We made the joint decision to gallop up the beach and see the action in person. Along the way, I noticed Snapper Rocks was hosting zero surfers; Greenmount had a single rider out who promptly bellied to shore; and the waves seemed to grow in size and viciousness as Ben and I neared the contest site, where Red Bull skis weaved in and out of the scary lineup. We encountered Sebastian Zietz on the way, who had jumped in at Snapper on a 6'1" swallow-tail and found himself dragged a kilometer north almost instantly. I was glad I hadn't tried to surf, and since it wasn't raining anymore, I was glad with the decision to watch Mick and Joel live from the beach. Things were going well. Then things got better.

Semifinal #1 was the best surf battle since Andy streaked past Kelly at Pipe in 2006. {{{Eight}}} minutes in, Joel already had a pair of decent scores in place, and the pressure was on his opponent to answer back. So Mick did that. But first he stroked over the ledge on a board-breaker, pulled into a cavern, and broke his board.

"Go Phil!" folks yelled as a replacement was rushed to the water's edge, because even the caddies are celebrities here.

Mick was back to the lineup in {{{90}}} seconds – the jet-ski song and dance is that dialed – and was immediately into a bomb, yodeling through the cave for a 9.43 and a shot at the lead. Then this exchange took place between 10:01am and 10:04am, Australian Eastern Standard Time:

Mick: 8.23
Joel: 8.07
Joel: 9.93
Joel: 10.00
Mick: 7.93

The crowd was baffled, and screaming, oblivious to the rain that had returned to soak them silly (thanks, Ben). Every wave was a dumping, monstrous tube, and the two Coolie masters could do no wrong. Scores were a shot in the dark.

"See that, they gave Mick too high a score!" yelped Yadin Nicol around 10:03, as Parko rode out of another one. "They f—ked up, didn't they? What are they gonna give that, a 12?"

It was really cool.

"Where can I go to get warm?" Joel asked when he finally made it back to the competitors' area after time expired. He was shooed into a portable structure and there, leaning against a case of contest supplies – batteries, microphone cords, a box of Lifestyles – he grinned. "Thing is, that was only average Kirra," he said, so flustered from his victory that he forgot he was really surfing Snirra. It's ok though. Mick Fanning snuck up behind Joel and clapped his shoulders (kinda hard, actually), and called him "F—kwit."

"I seen you stroke into that 10 and went, 'Aw, f—k. Corner out or something! Good luck mate."

And with that the battle had passed. But the rain hadn't. So I booked it back to the Snapper media center and saw the rest on TV, from the comfort of a Herman Miller Aeron chair. I saw what you saw. I saw Taj go limp in a pathetic performance against Adriano De Souza in Semi #2, as the conditions went to hell and Adriano went to his first WCT final. Then I saw Joel dispatch his final challenger in an utterly predictable display of tube mastery and casual carvery punctuated by another perfect 10.

"I'm just happy!" he yelled to his fans from the Quik Pro stage at Snirra after taking the year's first win. I'm happy, too. Joel is my favorite surfer, and so is Taylor Knox. Aren't they yours? And that was my journey through the final day.

This gallery is brought to you by

1 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.83
2 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.30

SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 19.93 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.66
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.84 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 5.34

1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 1200 points
2. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 1032 points
3. Taj Burrow (AUS) 876 points
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 876 points
5. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 732 points
5. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 732 points
5. Adrian Buchan (AUS)732 points
5. Damien Hobgood (USA) 732 points