I scamper like an ice-head into a bush in front of the Billabong house at Off The Wall, seeking shelter from a squall in the bipolar Hawaiian weather. In the ocean, Joel Parkinson is surfing against Kalani Chapman in moody 4-to -6 foot waves. As a corduroy-blue set approaches, the house I lean against lights up with whistles, screams and high-pitched Australian gibberish.
Parko scoops into a backdoor jewel and the house explodes. The drizzly air was full of hope and Joel strutted his way into the next round.
Three heats later, Kelly Slater surfed against Billy Kemper. The sun had poked out by then, yet the Quiksliver house was quiet — maybe there was a football game on. Throughout the heat, the Mr. Cocoa Beach let go of his rail and stood tall in 18.63 points worth of tubes. Kemper put forth a splendid effort and in the last minute he even tried to ollie over Slater. As awesome
as that was, it wasn't exactly the 18.64 that he needed. Still, Christian Fletcher was probably smiling upon him somewhere.
That disowning Round 3 sent all but 12 surfers home. One out of every six of them is fighting for a world title. Parko, with his yells and whistles, already won his Round 4 heat against CJ Hobgood and Kieren Perrow. Parko had all the momentum and collected most of the points, 18.10 in total, and a leap frog to the quarter finals. Kelly is set to surf against Josh Kerr and
Gabriel Medina in the first heat once competition resumes later this week. If he wins he goes straight to the quarters on the opposite side of the draw as Parko. If he loses he goes to Round 5 and if he loses there, Parko's world champ. If both Kelly and Parko lose in the same round, the tie and title will go to the runner: Slater. But there's no fun in that. Instead, fate will hand us a Kelly vs. Parko final and Pipe will fire. GT will have a heart attack and Dave Stansfield will spontaneously combust. The Billabong house will create an earthquake and the Quiksilver guys will come out to their porch. And, after all this, a champion will be crowned. —Brendan Buckley