Oakley Pro Bali: Finals Day

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He was confident from the very first heat. Focused and having fun. This is how champs maintain themselves. And once they're there, it's hard to take them down.

But defending world champ Joel Parkinson was only barely in the title race this year.

That's behind us now. The Champ is back. Parko surfed all the best waves of this event and, in the end, he won but gutting it out “contest surfing” style in less than perfect conditions. A champ through and through.

After yesterday’s perfect 20 heat, it seemed like Parko's opponents just kinda rolled over for him today. Taj Burrow never quite put a decent quarterfinal wave on the boards, and after the wind turned onshore halfway through their semi-final, Josh Kerr never quite caught a second wave. And Parko was into the final.

Michel Bourez’s path was different. He never did anything amazing, but he did a lot of it. Enough to out score Mick Fanning. And in his semifinal against Nat Young, he pushed through six turns on a mediocre wave in the last minute to steal the heat. Nat Young, still sitting at sixth place in the rankings, seemed a little too okay with the result. He even giggled when I suggested he could possibly win a world title this year. Not a good sign. But Rookie of the Year, you betcha.

While the Oakley Pro Bali will be remembered as one of the best events of all time, the Finals weren't much to watch. The swell was there, but so was the wind. Contest organizers actually put the event on hold for a full 10-minutes between semifinal one and two just to scratch their heads. Nope. No way around it.

Sitting out the back in blown out bombers, Parks and Boar realized quickly enough that they ought to start posting 6s and 7s to build their little houses. And so it went.

This is where it actually got exciting. No more five-second barrels, but two very determined surfers doing whatever it took to not be the guy standing with the trophy that read RUNNER  UP.

Down and out with just 2 minutes left, Parko slashed and smashed his way to a passable comeback 8-point-something. With just seconds left, Bourez dropped in needing a 7. The buzzer sounded. Slash. Hack. Smash. Float. Was it enough? Both surfers sat in the lineup awaiting their fate.

Only the judges knew. They’d given 9s for less and 6s for more. Keramas was proving to be a crazy variable of scoring possibilities from one heat to the next.

Of course we know how this ends. Parko got the score. The Champ is back in the hunt.

A title race much improved. With Parko, Mick, Taj and Kelly all in contention. And Nat Young right there too. If the Oakley Pro Bali didn’t turn the tide, it at least shuffled the deck.

And if mixing metaphors meant matching milestones, then an after party at Sky Garden was something munchies and weeble-wobbles should reconsider as utterly confounding.

That doesn't make any sense. I realize that. It's late. We're still celebrating Parko's win. And a title race worth watching.

Thank you for the surf contest, Bali. –Nathan Myers

Finals Day Highlights