Thursday, April 15, 2004 (Bells Beach, VIC, AUS) Australian Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast) today won the 32nd annual Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. Event #2 on the 2004 Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) resumed this morning with quarterfinal clashes, running right through until this year’s champion was crowned.
Perfect 4ft (1.3m) waves were again on offer, though unfortunately became inconsistent as the event progressed towards its climax on the lower tide.
The 35-minute decider against fellow Australian Taj Burrow (Yallingup, WA) commenced with one of the most dramatic starts to a heat all event. Parkinson stroked into an epic set wave and proceeded to surf it brilliantly for a near-perfect 9.63 score. Burrow, on the other hand, caught the wave behind, but creased his surfboard attempting a re-entry and was forced to return to the beach for his back-up board. Things never really improved for him.
‘Parko’ — last year’s event runner-up — posted the only perfect 10 of the tournament in the semifinals, also earning the highest overall tally with 19.5-points, to eliminate defending two-times Rip Curl Pro champ Andy Irons. Having last won a WCT during the Rip Curl Cup at the end of 2002 in Hawaii, today’s victory moved the 23-year-old into second position on this year’s adjusted ratings and banked US$30,000 prizemoney.
“I don’t know what to say, began Parkinson, after being carried up the beach by good mates and previous Rip Curl Pro winners Mick Fanning and Mark Occhilupo. “I didn’t expect that this morning, but I’m pretty much over he moon.
“A wave came and everything felt good, he continued, of his opening ride. “It feels so good not to get second. I got three last year and they were all to Andy, so it was great to beat him in the semis and finally win one. To get my name on the Bells trophy is one of the greatest achievements of my life. I knew Taj could comeback if he got a bomb out there, but I guess it was my day. Thanks to everyone for coming down and sharing it with me.
Burrow – last year’s world #3 – never gave up despite his initial disadvantage. The 25-year-old slightly bridged the massive gap created by his opponent, posting a 7.87 with a crowd-pleasing ride, highlighted by a trademark aerial maneuver on the inside. Ultimately he required another ride worth 9.27-points.
“It’s pretty hard to make a comeback when conditions are that inconsistent, especially when Joel gets a 9.63 first wave, reasoned Burrow. “All I could do was try, and I got within range, but inconsistently nailed me.
“It was my best board and I heard it crack when I tried to hit the lip, he added, of the initial situation. “It didn’t take long to change boards, but it did rattle me a little bit. Then I was just trying to fight back, but you can’t get angry that a wave didn’t come. The real deal would have be the one, but I’m content and stoked with the result.
Equal third were reigning two-times consecutive Rip Curl Pro and ASP world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW), as well as Californian Pat O’Connell. Both earned US$10,000 and a major boost to their 2004 world title aspirations.
Irons had earlier collected the highest overall tally during round three, but against Parkinson in a rematch of their 2003 final at Johanna, the 25-year-old was unable to stop his opponent going one better. The Kauaian led momentarily during the exchange, before ‘Parko’ locked in his perfect ride and stormed ahead. The defending champ opted to return to shore six minutes early, but still gained control of this year’s ASP ratings with another strong result.
“Joel got a 9.5 and then was really patient, picking off another set to score a 10 on it, so I was pretty much smashed, explained Irons. “He definitely got revenge, but at least it wasn’t the final. I would have been nice to be in the final again, but it wasn’t on the cards.
“Loving that, he added, of leading the ratings again. “The tour is a marathon, not really a sprint, so two good results already and I’m stoked. Just want to keep the momentum flowing throughout the year and keep it up.
O’Connell, who received a World Professional Surfers (WPS) wildcard for 2004 – following a knee injury late last year — justified the spot with his best result in more than a year. The 32-year-old began his day with a dream win over Bells’ roommate and six-time world champ Kelly Slater, but then had his campaign narrowly ended by Burrow. The Californian required an 8.28 with three minutes to go and snagged a clean set wave. After landing a big floater and emerging from a great barrel, the wave unfortunately faded out and his score returned an 8.23, slightly below mark.
“This whole contest has been such a blessing, reasoned O’Connell. “Every time someone else needed a wave against me the ocean went flat, and Kelly’s ride was a second too late, so… I didn’t expect anything and had a good time. I really wanted to get it, and it was fun surfing with Taj, as I really look up to his surfing. My last wave completely died, but gosh, I almost had it. I’m not disappointed at all though, and I think it was exciting for the people on the beach, which I feel is a big part of it.
Finishing equal fifth in the Rip Curl Pro were 2001 event winner Mick Fanning (Gold Coast, AUS), fellow Australian Toby Martin (Dee Why, NSW), six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) and 1998 event champ Mark Occhilupo (Gold Coast, AUS).
In what proved a wave-starved heat, Slater uncharacteristically fell on his first good ride and then tried in vain to catch O’Connell’s lead. As the final seconds elapsed an ideal set wave approached the Floridian, but by the time he had taken his hands from the rail of his surfboard to begin surfing, the siren had sounded to mark the heat’s completion. Adding insult to injury, the 32-year-old went berserk on the ride and almost surely secured the 8.0 score he required.
The 32nd annual Rip Curl Pro would not have been possible without the support of Surfing Victoria, the Surf Coast Shire Council, the Victorian Department of Tourism, Sport & The Commonwealth Games, and the Association of Surfing Professionals, plus the supporting sponsorship of Nintendo, Coca-Cola, Triple M, Tracks, Nokia, Telstra, Falls Creek, Frankston Yamaha, Holden and Beaumont’s.
Official Rip Curl Pro Results
1st Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.13 — US$30,000
2nd Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.04 – US$16,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 19.5 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 14.33
SF2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.2 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 16.16
Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinal; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.5 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.1
QF2: Andy Irons (HAW) 15.67 def. Toby Martin (AUS) 10.0
QF3: Pat O’Connell (USA) 14.5 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.77
QF4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.67 def. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 6.67
ASP Ratings After WCT#2/12
1. Andy Irons (HAW) 1,908-points
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 1,800
3. Michael Lowe (AUS) 1,680
4. Taj Burrow (AUS) 1.632
5. Taylor Knox (USA) 1,476
=6. Kelly Slater (USA); Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 1,464
8. Jake Paterson (AUS) 1,332
9. Victor Ribas (BRA) 1,212
=10. Guilherme Herdy (BRA); Paulo Moura (BRA) 1,200