JOEL Parkinson has capped off an amazing year by claiming his first win of the year and more importantly his first world title at the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.
As a former four times runner-up, and yet to win an event in 2012, Parkinson had been a model of consistency to lead the world ratings from 11 times world champion Kelly Slater going into the final event of the year, the Billabong Pipeline Masters.
The Go Parko mission was at fever pitch and the 31-year-old Coolangatta surfing legend from the Snapper Rock Surfriders Club had huge support from family and friends both in Hawaii and all over the globe backing him all the way.
A classic sea saw battle ensured on the final day with Slater who dominated his round 5 and quarter final heat scoring a perfect 10 against Hawaiian veteran and Pipe specialist Shane Dorian to reach the semi finals.
The pressure then swung to Joel who kept his cool disposing of CJ Hobgood (USA) in the quarter's and then had to battle hard against CJ's twin brother Damian in the semi finals eventually advancing into the final.
All eyes then focused on the critical semi-final clash between Kelly Slater and Coolangatta's Josh Kerr who was surfing with a pinched nerve.
Kersey a close friend and fellow Snapper Rocks club member scored a 9.2 out 10 straight out of the gates.
Slater needed to win the semi final and face Parkinson in the final and whoever would win would claim the World title. In the end Kerr proved to be the danger man defeating the world's greatest ever surfer to advance into his first Pipe and WCT final thus denying Slater a shot at a 12th World title.
The relief was almost too much for Joel who watched on nervously as his Snapper mate did the damage on Slater.
"I'd eaten an energy bar and felt physically ill like throwing up when I realized that it was over and that I had won the World title!" a relieved Parko said dedicating his maiden World Crown to wife Monica and their three children, his Dad Brian and Mum Jo including thanking trainer Wes Berg, shaper Jason Stevenson, sister Bianca and the rest of the Parkinson family.
"This is for you," he said as he lifted the trophy sky high and you could feel the monkey fall of his back and the bridesmaid tag tossed aside!
Joel was determined to break the hoodoo, win the 2012 ASP Mens World Title and win his first event of the year plus his first Billabong Pipeline Masters.
Ultimately he had to stay in front of Slater and was inspired by his fellow team mate, the late Andy Irons who the Pipe event was dedicated to. AI's wife Lindy, son Axle and brother Bruce were there to congratulate Joel.
"I felt really good when I woke up this morning and flashed on what Andy would have said, 'I've got this!"
To use an old quote from John Witzig when Nat Young won the 1966 World Title in California, "We're tops again!"
Yes we are and together with Kingscliff's World Professional women's champion Stephanie Gilmore, Australia is back on top of the Surfing World for 2012! Congratulations to both Parko and Steph!! No doubt there will be a huge welcome home party!
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