Moments From the Final Day at Sunset

Easy Like Sunday Morning
Joel Parkinson wins the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing

A day ago Joel Parkinson was in Waikiki. While most surfers on the North Shore chased mammoth waves at Waimea and beyond, Joel was at Duke's sipping something cold and tandem surfing with his wife on her birthday. There was music. And laughs. Andy and Taj were there with their ladies too. He looked casual and calm. He looked happy.

Fast forward to today. Joel is at Sunset Beach on the North Shore. In the final of the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing. He again looks casual and calm. Happy even. After a few tubes, a mammoth carve and an unsuccessful, but impressive alley-oop on a 7'6," he was the winner, for the third time in his career, of the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset. By lunchtime he'd put himself in the lead for the Triple Crown of Surfing. Simple as that. And he did it by winning a heat you'll only see in Hawaii.

Thanks to the prestige of the Triple Crown — Joel edged out a methodical and precise Mick Fanning, a determined and absolutely on fire Sunny Garcia (who opened the heat with a 9) and the World Tour's most recent addition Dusty Payne — a match up that left something for everyone.

After Sunny opened up with a 9, the shifty Sunset lineup played games with everyone. Mick had a couple of opportunities but was clipped by chandeliering tubes. Dusty was lost at sea, but probably so relieved he'd qualifed that it didn't matter. And Sunny had the pressure on, only needing a small score at the end. Joel then showcased his nonchalant style at Sunset. The "no worries" approach that's given him the most sought after style in modern surfing. The one that keeps contest commentators chirping through lulls, "He makes it look so easy," they reiterate.

And it's this approach that Parko will be taking into Pipe Masters (waiting period begins Tuesday) and what may very well lead him to his first-ever World Title. While Mick is obviously doing everything right. Eating. Training. Surfing perfectly. It's Parko's barbecue casual demeanor that's winning heats. And he's enjoying ever minute of it. And with a few perfect west swells stacked up after this Eddie swell, the Triple Crown and the World Title will be decided in very epic fashion. Check back here all week as Nick Carrol prepares to take you deep into both camps as they prepare for the final showdown of this Triple Crown season.

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Say howzit to 2010 World Tour rookie Dusty Payne. Dusty made the finals against Sunny, Mick and Joel — quite a foursome.

Tanner Gudauskas drops in out the back, while Parko prepares to charge through the inside — a section he had so wired that you could call it the Joel Bowl

Taylor Knox matching power with power en route to a semifinal finish. Score another one for the varsity.

Tom Whitaker holding some Starbucks, and Bede Durbidge holding his board. Both look pretty pleased with their lot.

Joel Parkinson, now a 3X Sunset Beach winner, threading the money section. Sunset yesterday was either a big, mushy mess or a Backdoor-esque tube, depending on where you were sitting.

Sunny Garcia finds a cave, and a spot in the final.

Another World Tour rookie-to-be, Pat Gudauskas has plenty to smile about.

And twin brother Dane? Well, Dane's always smiling. Stoked for his brothers and keen to join them on tour, look out for this face to make a major WQS charge next season.

Second-generation Sunset dominator Mason Ho took it as far as the semis, but couldn't find a second score to squeak past Uncle Sunny.

Separated at birth? Maybe not. Sunny Garcia, complete with Polar heart rate monitor, and Dane Gudauskas.

World Tour ratings leader Mick Fanning looked darn-near unstoppable in the semifinals, logging multiple shacks and toying with a cryptic Sunset lineup

Mick checks the roof of the tube, while his competitors out the back scratch their heads amid a sea of swirling foam.

At age 39, Sunny's forehand hack remains a Vans Triple Crown staple. Here's the one we've known for all these years.

Tom Carey (middle) sporting a rare collector's item: the SURFING eagle-emblem T-shirt. They're roughly priceless.

Papa Luke Egan looking positively Hollywood, with three of Joel's 50 or so Hawaii boards resting on the hood.

Standing room only at Sunset Beach. The smart ones brought binoculars.

Mick Fanning and Volcom's Dave Riddle share a red moment before the final.

Joel Parkinson, 30-odd minutes from victory and the Vans Triple Crown ratings lead — not to mention some serious momentum going into Pipeline.

The carve that would be king. Even from afar, Joel's turns are a thing of beauty.

Lots of cameras held high as Joel celebrates his official comeback, but only one trophy. With only one event left this year — his sponsor's Billabong Pipeline Masters — Joel is poised to take the Triple Crown, the world title, and well over $100K in prize money.