Joel Parkinson Wins The 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Conditions: 4-6 feet, clean and classic
Events Held: Quarters, Semis, Final, after-party
Nature's Call: Oh ye of little faith, be silenced
Prediction: Kelly in the Top 5 by Europe

"At least no one's trashing me on Fantasy Surfer anymore," said Adam "Robbo" Robertson, clad in a sky-blue Hollister hoodie. No one trashes him because he's made the final of the Rip Curl Pro. Consider the crisis nearly brought upon surfing today as Robbo paddled out against Joel Parkinson at high noon:

Fact: "No kook's ever won Bells." - Shane Dorian

Fact: "Only kooks wear Hollister." - The Old Testament

What if Robbo and his kooky sweatshirt had won? Would the universe end, like when they prove God wrong in Kevin Smith's Dogma? Robbo, a local wildcard, would have been the first Victorian ever to ring the Bell. The home team was 0-36 and turned out en masse to cheer him on, but he never threatened Parko, who came away with a second win from two events.

After a "Waiting Period" that truly lived up to its name - 11 long days to finish the contest and enough frowny pros to suggest PMS - the Rip Curl Pro ended the only way it ever should have. Parko, the best surfer in the draw and probably the world, carved three signature off-the-top arcs in a row for a 9.{{{57}}} to combo his opponent. The result is comforting. It may help stem the loss of faith in 30-minute heats as a way to gauge surfing talent (they imply Dane Reynolds is only the 33rd best there is). But the judges still choked slightly in trying to swallow Parko's flawless technique.

The issue was Bells, really, which forces a surfer to move horizontally - racing, floating, cutting back a few times and then repeating the cycle. Parko moves horizontally better than anyone - but the judges want to see vertical turns, fins drifting, the kind of risky trash that makes women faint with desire. Dave Mailman, President of ASP Europe, reckons standard roundhouses barely register on the scale. Parko's perfect carves were thus a quandary: in his Round 3 heat, the two most-experienced judges on the panel scored consecutive waves as follows:

Judge A: 7.5, 5.5

Judge B: 5.5, 7.5

On a 10-point scale, that's a huge margin. Whatever the criteria, though, Joel was the man to beat. His semifinal against Jordy Smith was a nail-biter, with the meaty Saffa almost squeaking through on some fancy tail-slides. Meanwhile, on the other side of the draw, Robbo quietly worked through two Hawaiians in succession. Kekoa "Two Steaks" Bacalso surfed much like Sunny, but also stood waiting for sections like Sunny, and the lack of flow in his approach probably cost some points. He'll likely win Rookie of the Year. Fred Patacchia was almost the first goofy-footer to make a final here since Flavio Padaratz, but fell one heat short when Robbo clocked a 7 at the end.

There was dim hope that the un-sponsored Victorian would slay Goliath and win the final, but no one really expected it. Of course, few expected Robbo to even advance out of the first round, and that was against a man with a cast on his wrist. His dream run was a pleasant sideshow to Parko's feature presentation.

The best stories have cliffhangers begging for a sequel, and today was no different. In the Virgin Blue Expression Session, Kelly Slater - still in town, surprisingly - paddled out on a Wizard Sleeve and did some of the event's best surfing, good enough to claim the prize for Best Wave and sending notice that he's not quite as washed up as his current rating would suggest. The World Tour saga continues May 9-20 at the Billabong Pro Teahupo'o, Tahiti, followed by the Hollister Pro Newport Beach, CA, where Robbo and his blue hoodie have another wildcard. Haha, sorry - couldn't resist.

Highlights from Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach pres. by Snickers will be available via

The next stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour will be the Billabong Pro Teahupoo from May 9 - 20, 2009.

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1 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.40
2 - Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.37

SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.33 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.24
SF 2: Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.87 def. Fred Patacchia (HAW) 12.73

QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.17 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.66
QF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.50 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.16
QF 3: Adam Robertson (AUS) 14.26 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 12.33
QF 4: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.13 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.17