(Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii) Australian Joel Parkinson today won the Rip Curl Cup in perfect conditions. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) marked the second leg of the 20th Anniversary Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and hosted the crowning of the 2002 ASP world champion.
The all-important final day began this morning with quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and then the grand finale. Perfect 6-8 ft (2-2.6m) waves were on offer at Sunset beach with many barrel rides captivating the strong beach crowd. The penultimate WCT was completed as the sun shined and wind held off for an epic showdown.
Parkinson, who won the season opening WCT at home on Australia’s Gold Coast, was in world title contention for most the year. Coming into Hawaii he had slipped just outside the realm into fifth position, but was eager for a strong finish to compliment his brilliant start. He reached the semifinals at the final World Qualifying Series (WQS) event two weeks ago at nearby Haleiwa, and with today’s victory took control of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing ratings, as well as collected US$30,000 prizemoney.
Having posted the best single score today for 9.5, as well as combined total of 18.5 during the first quarterfinal this morning, the 21 year old continued his stunning form through the 35-minute decider this afternoon with Lee Winkler (Aus), Nathan Webster (Aus) and Shane Dorian (Haw). The natural footer executed a serious foam climb on a large set wave, maneuvered his way through a great tube ride and finished with a cutback to earn his second 9.5 score of the day. He backed this up with another 7.5 barrel to seal victory and move into third position on the ratings.
“I’m that stoked,” said a disbelieving Parkinson, surrounded by media after being carried up the beach by Aussie mates and showered with beer by current #6 Mick Fanning. “I thought I was lucky the first heat today getting a couple of nines, so I figured I’d probably lose the next one. Then the same thing happened again and I was in the final. I had a bad start, but then it all came together (laughs). “I never dreamed I’d win in Hawaii, so my goal today was to stand up on the podium,” he continued. “I didn’t care what I got in the final, but to come away with it is a dream. I thought it was the biggest dream to win at home, but to win in Hawaii… it’s the epicenter of surfing. To be able to prove yourself in Hawaii is everything. I’m feeling confident this year and hopefully I can have a good placing at Pipeline and win the Triple Crown. “I think Andy deserved to win the world title,” he added, of the new champ. “He’s definitely been one of the best surfers and I can’t wait to party with him tonight now that I’ve got a good reason too (laughs).”
Winkler, who sat in 29th position leading into the Rip Curl Cup and was fearful of losing his position within the elite ranks, also enjoyed a magic day. Having eliminated Irons in their quarterfinal following a paddling interference against the Hawaiian, the Australian remained focused and ultimately secured his best result to date, moving into 21st position on the ratings. “It was a big day, full of mixed emotions,” said Winkler. “I was kind of numb to the fact of getting through heats, I just thought I had to go out there and catch waves. That’s all I really thought about, so it was good the focus was on Andy all day and it was exciting just to watch what he did. I wasn’t too worried about myself, so I stayed relaxed. “That’s exactly what I needed,” he added, of jumping up the ratings. “I was freaking before this event as I knew I needed to pull a good one out. I didn’t think it was going to be this good, but it’s a cherry on top.”