Australian surfer Mick Fanning.
Australian surfer Mick Fanning. AAP

Two Cooly kids left in title clash

THE ASP world title is officially a two-horse race between ratings leader Mick Fanning and No.2 Joel Parkinson.

By winning the Rip Curl Pro Search in Portugal, Fanning has extended his lead over Parkinson by 380 points and the world title will now be decided in Hawaii at the Billabong Pipeline Masters from December 1-12.

The world title race scenario is as follows:

For Joel to win he needs to finish in the top three and Mick to bow out from ninth to 33rd.

Joel can win if Mick places fifth with Joel in second.

Joel can also win if Mick finishes third and Joel wins but if Mick is runner-up at Pipe and Joel wins, Mick would win the world title.

Joel must finish at least two rounds in front of Mick to claim his inaugural world title.

So it's still wide open at the moment but favouring Mick, depending on all the variables that can present themselves at Hawaii's Pipeline, making this one of the most exciting world title chases ever.

It's certainly the first time two Gold Coasters have been locked in for the title and one thing is for sure, an Australian will definitely be world champ, and a Gold Coaster at that.

Peter Townend was our first in 1976, followed by Rabbit Batholomew in 1978, Occy in 1999 and Mick in 2007.

The last time Hawaii or the Pipe decided the number one in surfing was back in 2004 during the Irons vs Slater clashes.

Both had made the finals of the last event and it was whoever won the final would also be crowned world champion.

Andy Irons was looking for his third consecutive world title and Kelly Slater, who had retired momentarily in 1998, was trying to win his seventh world title.

Surfing conditions were tricky and not living up to the Pipeline mystique but Irons was hungry and Slater desperate to win and in that four-man final was a young Joel Parkinson who was learning just how gnarly competition can get in the big-time arena.

Parko was very much in the AI camp. Both are sponsored by Billabong and all Andy supporters including Joel were wearing the AI cap.

The feared Hawaiian wolf pack was the vocal local supporters cheering on their boy Andy.

Slater was treated like the enemy by Irons and his supporters and the intimidation tactics surrounded this critical world title race were intense to say the least.

Slater, to his credit, kept his cool and even shook Irons' hand before the final, wishing his opponent good luck. This was perceived by Irons as one of Kelly's psychological warfare games.

Was it good sportsmanship or was Kelly playing with Andy. Of course, it all came down to who got the waves in pretty ordinary surf - 2-3ft mushy backdoor.

Irons was quick off the mark and took an early lead while Slater opted for surfing a peak up the beach to himself. It turned out to be a bad mistake as Irons kept extending his lead.

Then Kelly decided to enter the lion's fray. Irons is a Leo the lion and likes to roar like a lion - or he used to.

His brash statement that year was that Kelly's time was over and now it was his time.

This piece of trash talk only served to fuel up Kelly but at the time Slater was on the ropes and knew it.

It was Irons' time and then Kelly paddled back to jostle the line-up with both Irons and Parkinson.

A wave with high scoring potential turned up with minutes to go. Kelly was lining it up but Joel was further deep on the inside.

Slater could have turned this wave into a winner with world title written all over it but Joel paddled for it and then at the last moment pulled back and denied Kelly the wave.

In football terms this is called selling the dummy and when Joel pulled back, Kelly spat the dummy, accusing the young Queenslander of all sorts of things.

End game was Andy Irons won his third world title and Slater finished fourth in the final and runner-up to Irons for the world title.

It was a crushing blow for Slater, but then in 2005 the king returned to take Irons down and win his seventh world title.

Straddie Assault

CABARITA Boardriders are pumped after their best result at the Straddie Assault held last weekend at Main Beach, Point Lookout.

The Caba crew finished third behind Snapper in second and North Shore, who were runner-up last year and won the Teams for 09.

Local club Point Lookout won the pairs.

This weekend Cabarita board riders host their annual Rip Curl into Summer Junior comp.

One of their top juniors, Sam Ford, in still unconscious from a blow to his head in Coolangatta three weeks ago and his family are constantly by his side. The Caba crew is praying hard for him.

Best wishes for a full recovery, Sam.



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