Joel Parkinson Wins the 2012 World Title

Parko wins the Pipe Masters and his first World Title

| posted on December 14, 2012

Your 2012 World Champ, Joel Parkinson. Photo: Ellis

Joel Parkinson claimed his first World Title today at the Billabong Pipe Masters. In one of the narrowest world title showdowns ever, Parko and Slater were neck and neck throughout the event. The title race was finally determined when Josh Kerr bested Slater in their Semifinal heat. As the clock ticked down, standing on the second-floor balcony at the Billabong house, a nervous Parko was surrounded by family and friends when the final horn blew. With four runner-up finishes this year, Joel had finally done it.

After being chaired all the way from the from Billabong house to the podium, an emotional Parkinson took the stage to address the crowd. “This is where I’ve always wanted to be. I can’t describe what this feels like…I’ve been through hell and back and it feels so sweet to be here today,” said Parko. “Thank you to everyone across the world who supported me.”

With his world title secured, Parko headed back to the lineup to take on Josh Kerr in the Final. Throughout the year, Joel had posted a slew of solid results, never finishing worse than a ninth, but an event win had eluded him all season. Some critics have stated that had Joel have won the title without a World Tour win, it would have come with an asterisk. Although Kerr was in fine form, the momentum was with Joel and after posting a 9 followed up by an 8, he’d sealed his victory. His World Title was now paired with a Pipe Masters win.

On the winner’s podium once again, Joel was overcome with emotion as he struggled to take on the gravity of what he’d just accomplished. “It’s surreal. I need to pinch myself. I don’t know who sent me those waves in the final…but I think Andy had something to do with it,” said Parko. “So thank you Andy for pushing that over. I still can’t believe it. To have a win along with the world title just feels that much sweeter.”

Uncharacteristically, Slater started the day faltering in his non-elimination Round 4 heat against Gabriel Medina and Josh Kerr, putting his back against the wall in his Round 5 matchup against Miguel Pupo. With the title on the line, Slater went to work against Pupo, quickly racking up a 9.5 and an 8 and effectively eliminating the young Brazilian fresh out the gate. By moving into the Quarters, the ratings lead seesawed once again as Slater took a slight ratings lead, placing the pressure back on Parko.

Taking on Pipe maestro C.J. Hobgood in the Quarters, Parko went on the hunt for a few insiders and took control over the heat from the outset. By heat’s end, Parko would come out on top and the bout for the title would now move onto the Semis, where Parko would take on C.J.’s twin brother, Damien Hobgood.

With the onus once again placed on Slater, the champ drew longtime friend and event wildcard Shane Dorian in the Quarters. With the power to crush Slater’s 12th world title dream, the world wondered whether or not Dorian would bring his A-game—he did. Trading off on treacherous Backdoor bombs, the duo traded high 9s, but then Kelly posted a perfect 10 to keep the title hunt alive into the Semis.

In their Semifinal heat, Joel was trailing Damien Hobgood with just over five minutes remaining. Things appeared bleak for Parkinson, but he kept his composure, and in the dying minutes he threaded three Backdoor tubes to retake the lead with a 6, 8, and a 9, respectively. At the horn, the crowd on the beach breathed a collective sigh of relief. Parko had advanced and the pressure was back on Kelly.

Surfing against an injured Josh Kerr in the Semi—who had suffered a pinched nerve earlier the day and was taken to the hospital—Slater struggled to find a rhythm from the outset. Kerr posted a 9-point ride, and while Slater searched for a wave to keep him in the heat, the ocean never delivered. The title was Parko’s.

“I’m happy for him. Parko’s been so close before and he’s just such an amazing surfer,” said Slater. “He just makes it looks so easy. He’s ultra smooth, charges, pulls out wins when he needs to. I’m really happy for him.”

When asked whether or not Slater would retire his singlet after this event, the champ remained coy. “Yeah, I’m gonna sit back up and process this year, but, no, I don’t have any definitive plans for next year yet.”

  • Mik

    Congrats to Joel, who is technically one of the most perfect surfers ever. Few others can do the full speed tight-radius on-rail round-houses he has mastered—on top of his ability to execute the full range of finessed power maneuvers at will. And as Kelly said, Parko is amazing at getting the scores he needs, just as Kelly is himself.

    Well, these two are both amazing representatives of being core, and being a positive role model at the same time. So congrats to Joel and Kelly for an amazing year.

    Sure hope Kelly does the tour next year, or at least parts of it, and I wish him a safe and exciting run through the Eddie, and Jaws contests!!!

    Again, congratulations to 2012 World Champ Joel Parkinson!!!!!!

  • matt obrien

    parko = paper champion. he should be sure to buy richi porta a beer or two, parko couldn’t have “won” title without him. but i’ll still give a congrats to Parko, not his fault that heaf judge porta had the burning desire to crown him a title. don’t hate the player, hate the lame! and before you say b.s., Jeremey at chopes & Jordy at trestles are just a few “helper heats” that had Porta’s fingerprints all over, not to mention the Ke11y/Julian “interference” @ trestles, the mick bells “victory” or the Pipe Masters heats tgat Joel “won” this year: hobgoods & josh lost those heats vefore they even paddled out! weeee pro surfing is fun. but again, cobgrats Parko!

  • Cobber

    Matt O’Brien … you’re a kook … It was at Bells not Sebastian Inlet – Slater didn’t deserve the scores he got … As for Trestles … Ask Phil MacDonald about being robbed at Trestles! Your thesis is a complete joke… Slater is the most buffed surfer in history … vs. Ace in France for example … If Kelly had of got the 9th he deserved he wouldn’t have even been in the hunt at Pipe.
    GO PARKO!!!

  • Dirt

    matt obrien, you absolute piece of shit!!!. Kelly is the most overscored surfer ever. Ace beat him twice this year but judges pushed Kelly through. You Dickhead. Parko is the surfers surfer, he has the ability to make every other surfer look ordinary.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Great to see Parko win, seems like a real nice guy. Great to see how well Slater handled himself in the interview afterwards. Kerr is amazing, going to hospital and still getting to the final. I wish he didn’t get that final wave against Nicol, I’d have loved to see him on tour next year, can’t say that about some others…

  • Daniel

    I’m so glad that guys of this Kelly/Parko/Mick generation of surfers are just about to get retired or show clear signs of seasoned performances next year. Hopefully the present crew of judges quit as well. Medina suffered in their hands more than nobody else on tour in 2012. Just for the record, that Kelly’s broken board blocking Medina’s way out of the barrel was criminal and according to the rules should be called interference. Also, EVEN THOUGH he clearly made the whole barrel he got a 2.5 score!
    But congrats to Joel Parkinson anyway. He truly deserves it.

  • Eli

    I am so happy Parko won. He really deserved it. However, I can’t believe the scoring in the heat against CJ at Pipe. Unfortunately, pretty shameless favoritism. However, pro surfing needed/wanted a new champ and Parko deserves it.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    What is criminal about the current tour is the amount of boards that get broken. In these days where there are tuf lites and firewires there is no excuse for so many broken boards. Maybe the pros like to have an ultra thin layer of fiberglass on their boards, maybe the boards go better, thats fine, but there should be a penalty if you break a board – lose 5 points or the heat. In some forms of motorsport like Formula 1 if your engine or gearbox doesn’t last three races you get a penalty. I remember one of the commentators (an ex-pro – can’t remember which) saying that he used to use only about three boards during a season on tour. Considering how environmentally unfriendly these boards are to make it is absurd to see so many get smashed when there could easily be an agreement between the surfers that they use a set thickness of fiberglass. I know boards are going to break in pipe, chopes and hossenger no matter what, but there are too many being broken in general.

  • Matt O’Brien

    dirt: right back at you! Kelly is also one of the most underscored surfer. nice how you didn’t respond to my richi porta beer remark. funny how I lay down some examples and you name call, shows your true class Dirt! Notice I didn’t blame the Paper Champ, I blamed the judging? did that get past you? guess so

  • Whamo

    The amazing thing was how so many surfers got pounded by closeouts, and they paddled out for more. True grit.

  • Tim

    A little reminder:

    Unless you just came out from under a rock, or more likely, are so full of patriotism for your own countrymen, or have neurotic obsession with a particular surfer and can’t see past your own bias, the same judging “controversy” has been going on since the inception of pro surfing. As in sometimes it goes one way and sometimes the other. There is actually no controversy. No favouritism. There have been a very few number of mistakes have been made that most of us would probably agree on (eg. Medina’s loss in Portugal). But competitive surfing is a subjective best estimate of performance based on a number of criteria, not who got the highest score on Galaga (clearly matt o’ brien did). Some waves could have been scored higher or lower. Main thing is that the right guy wins in the end. Parko won the year straight-up and fully deserves all the credit he’s gotten. To all the naysayers, get your head out of your ass. And huge congrats to Seabass, Parko and all the competitors that charged the wave. It was an awesome show and and exciting finish. Great to see the respect and camaraderie between competitors as well.

  • Ted Debiase

    @matt O’brien

    You have this need to post your absurd opinion on every online surf website I’ve read today. Where I come from we call that spraying. Thankfully he who yells the loudest doesn’t win here. Now get off the computer get in the water and let that shit go. Be happy to see some great competitve surfing in some awesome waves, and a exciting finish to the year.

  • turvyjj

    Very interesting and exciting fall season. Wonderful to be able to watch everything live on the net and for free. I can only thank the people who make it possible. Parko won, and congrats to him, although for me the new surfing is Medina and JJFlorence or JJFlorence and Medina. I’ve never had son much fun seeing a guy (or two) surfing, if I except Gerry, Kelly and Joel (and maybe Rob). Still, I think that Slater and Medina especially have been underscored many times even if Kelly looked sort of unambitious against Shane (I think Dorian’s last wave was underscored). All in all, very nice year, lots of tubes and aerials, and a nice styled guy as a champion, but a bit less exciting than the three –for me–top ones, the above mentioned guys.

  • casey

    yeah wall said, mr. matt o’brien, what you said is true, and only the true. Richie and that quite panel of judges gave parko the tittle. The real guys is jjf and GM.

  • Ben

    Congratulations to Parko, a well-deserving and humble champ… not to mention flat-out incredible surfer. I am very happy for him. He won fair and square, IMO some calls went AGAINST him, i.e. when he lost to Mick at chopes.

    To any Slater hater, recognize that he is still the limit pusher and far and away the most well rounded surfer still in the water. Who else is equally dangerous frontside and backside, power and airs, tubes and tricks? A few come close, JJF and Dane come to mind, but they still ain’t there.

  • Eli Gersten

    No Fvcking Way Slater’s so-called “10” in his heat with Dorian was a 10 !

    It didn’t give me chicken skin. Did it give you chicken skin ? They got replays at –

    A 9.5 maybe.

    Kind of seemed like the judges wanted Kelly to advance out of that heat.

    With that kind of judging bias, Joel’s win is all the more noble – he was competing against a great surfer that the judges routinely hand an extra .5 to 1.0 in their scoring.

  • Matt O’Brien

    Tim, hahahahahahaha that Galaga jab was funny. I can take it. All in all I am not so stupid about pro surfing as you try and make me out to be… been following for a few years now (like 20+) just have my opinions. And thanks to surf related websites, i share em. galaga… what IS that anyways? cheers dude. I see a title for Taj in 2013.

  • matt obrien

    after re-reading my comments that i posted, i have to realize i am being a poor sport and cry baby (while giving bad name to crying babies). i would like to take back my negitivity and just say “congrats to Parko”. i have behaved like a jerk and am pretty ashamed about it. i let my negitive feelings get the best of me & my judgement! pretty freaking stupid of me to get so carried away like i did. it is only sport and i tried to make it something more. cheets everybody and let’s hope there is some swell for the Eddie & the Jaws comp(s)!! happy holidays…

  • Everyone

    Cheers Matt, hope you catch some good waves over the holiday season.

  • Max Emberson

    Matt there can be scoring issues everywhere. At Fiji Medina may have had the edge on Kelly that is 2,000 points. For Pipe – just look at all of Parko’s winning rides and he was at another level and it was only a few like Kerr, Zietz & CJ that could really challenge. No surfer had a backdoor carving wrap around cutback anywhere near Parkos level.

    Want to go deeper then what happened to Andy after his 3rd world title as Andy was set to take another 2 or 3 titles – for Andy to go down at Vegas like that seems he was targeted. At their peak nobody could stop Andy or Bruce and they both had the rare ability to combo Kelly. Andy was like Kelly or Sunny – he would’ve been wining until he was forty.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Max Emberson – am I missing something, what happened in Las Vegas to Andy? Targeted in what way? What are you talking about?

  • Adam

    I think the biggest suprise for me in the Pipe Masters was seeing Dane pack these HUGE backdoor barrels even when they were closeouts. Did not know that guy charged that hard, but then again who should doubt that guys ability to do anything.

  • DM

    Congratulations, Parko. You’re surfing has always been world-class; happy to see you finally have become World Champion.